By: Ashley McCubbin
Bristol Motor Speedway grew a reputation for being a venue fans wanted to attend for years due to tight racing around the bottom of the short track. Thanks to a bit of PJ1 traction being laid down, the old form seems to be back.
Throughout the Food City 300, the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers fought for space at the bottom of the track, the groove becoming where you wanted to be through the run – except a restart if the first row spun the tires. In an effort to be down there, drivers would nudge each other, use the bumper, and sometimes slot in holes that did not look big enough. The results was some sparks flying, fenders bent, but a good ‘ol classic short track battle.
The icing on the cake was the final laps coming down to a bump and run. Chase Briscoe was able to close the gap to Austin Cindric, giving the classic maneuver in textbook application to get the No. 22 up the track to take the lead and victory. The Team Penske driver, meanwhile, was wondering left what if he hadn’t ran into the power steering issues and been able to dish a fair fight in return.
Aggressive style of racing brought forth three of the drivers who have showcased this through select highlights to this point leading to the playoffs, with Ross Chastain joining the Ford duo on the podium. If there’s anybody whose been pushing the limit, the Kaulig Racing driver showcased that with several moves questioned over the past couple months. For what reason? Simply, the emotion displayed post-race in wanting to prove himself and get the checkered flag.
The racing aside, tonight was a perfect display of what the playoffs could easily feature. Cindric and Briscoe have become the dominant forces in splitting wins back and forth, and will enter the postseason as the favorites. It’s just a question of whether the momentum remains.
But as the event showed, they will have challengers. Kaulig has speed in Chastain and Justin Haley, if they can put the pieces of an entire event together.
Justin Allgaier can never be forgotten, but like so many times this year showed speed through the first half, and fell apart in the second. This time, it was a poor pit stop and ill-handling car that took him out of contention after dominating the first two stages. If the veteran can carry it through a whole race, as you’d expect with his experience, he could be someone to discuss moving forward.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series has been rough and tumble this year, with a couple fights and contact on the track. The composite bodies have allowed for aggressive driving to prevail in places where you wouldn’t expect. With lots of young names hoping to cement their future in the sport, we could be in for a wild ride with the playoffs.