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What Happened at Bristol? 2023 NASCAR Playoffs 2nd Round Reset

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Joshua Lipowski

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The Round of 16 is now in the rear-view mirror, and the Playoff field has been cut to 12. Let’s take a look at those whose Championship hopes have come to an end and those who will continue to compete in the Round of 12.

Those Eliminated

Michael McDowell

This was unfortunate, but not unexpected for Michael McDowell. He qualified in the top 10 for each race in the first round, but he could not translate that into good results, particularly at Darlington and Kansas. Regardless, this is a good year for McDowell and Front Row Motorsports, and they can easily build off of the success of this year

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Again, not an unexpected cut from Round One. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. recorded four top-10 finishes in the first nine races, but he has only had three in the 20 races since. He just has not been one of the 12 fastest drivers week-in and week-out, so, his not advancing is not a surprise. However, a season in which you win the Daytona 500 is not a failed season by any stretch.

Kevin Harvick

This is a gut punch to Harvick and his fans in his final season. A poorly timed caution ruined a potential win at Darlington, but he still had a seven-point cushion heading into the final race at Bristol. He just flat-out was not fast at Bristol, and he will not win a Championship in his final season.

Joey Logano

Joey Logano was not at the top of his game for most of the season, but a top-5 at Kansas put him in a clinching position. Unfortunately, he was caught up in a wreck while racing near the back of the pack. He becomes the first defending champion to be eliminated in the Round of 16.

Previewing The Round of 12

The Round of 12 field has now been set. The standings will begin as follows:

  1. William Byron (+25)
  2. Martin Truex Jr. (+25)
  3. Denny Hamlin (+21)
  4. Kyle Larson (+12)
  5. Chris Buescher (+10)
  6. Kyle Busch (+8)
  7. Christopher Bell (+5)
  8. Tyler Reddick (+3)
  9. Ross Chastain (-3)
  10. Brad Keselowski (-3)
  11. Ryan Blaney (-12)
  12. Bubba Wallace (-14)

With this in mind, here are some storylines to follow as the Round of 12 begins.

The Championship is Wide Open

Round One proved that anyone is vulnerable with Martin Truex Jr. nearly missing the Round of 12. Now, the field tightens up as the Round of 12 begins. The gap for the top two seeds is only 25 points, and eight drivers find themselves 14 points or fewer above or below the cut-line. The Round of 12 is also the round of wild cards with the final two races of the round being Talladega and the Charlotte Roval. It truly is the Round where anything can happen.

Bubba Wallace Shocks the World

Bubba Wallace was someone that many felt would be eliminated after the first round, but he proved everyone wrong. He came from being down 19 points heading into Bristol to advancing to the Round of 12. Talladega is the track to watch for in the Round of 12 for Wallace as it is the place he got his first win in 2021.

Watch Out for Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson led laps and finished in the top-5 in each of the First Round races. It is some much-needed consistency for a race team that had six DNFs in the first 19 races of the season. If he can continue to keep his car out of the fence throughout the Playoffs, Larson can be a Championship threat.

Conclusion

Now that the focus is on to the Round of 12, the Playoffs become that much more intense. Who will get themselves through the Round of 12 this year?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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