I reckon no NASCAR playoff driver wants to actually win in the NASCAR playoffs? Not Chase Elliott, the regular season champion. Not Kyle Larson, the defending champ. Not Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano or Kyle Busch, either.
More on Rowdy in a just a bit, by the way.
Nope. The opening round of the playoffs gave us one hell of a trio in Victory Lane: Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace and … Chris Buescher?
Yep. Chris Buescher! The guy who’s only win came over five years ago when he lucked into the perfectly timed rain delay at Pocono.
For those counting at home, that was 223 races ago. For those really counting at home, that would be 2,238 days.
“I didn’t count them,” said Buescher, who was apparently not one of those folks counting back at home.
“I don’t like that stat one bit. But at least it reset.”
Can’t imagine why!
More on Buescher’s Bristol breakthrough in a bit.
Along the way, we’ll talk about Kyle Busch throwing an all-time tantrum, Chase Elliott giving NASCAR some obvious advice it’ll never take, Kyle Larson essentially calling the sport cheap, and 89-year-old Red Farmer somehow winning a race.
Four tires and a can of Sunoco fuel, baby. Monday Morning Pit-Stop is LIVE!
Kyle Busch storms off track after playoff chances go up in smoke
Love the Chris Buescher story, but we have to start with Rowdy.
A whirlwind week that started with Busch signing with RCR for next season ended with a blown engine at Bristol, crushed playoff chances, and one long walk from the garage to the hauler.
Take us for a ride, Kyle!
Out of the car. Out of the race.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 18, 2022
Mesmerizing. NBC for some reason didn’t post the rest of the footage, but Kyle kept walking all the way to his hauler.
It’s not often that you see drivers ditch their car, get out, keep the helmet on, and walk all the way to the shower. Wild.
It’s been a pretty miserable season for Kyle, on and off the track. Rowdy really has had horrible luck, and I ain’t jumping on the excuse train. Don’t forget, he broke down at Darlington … from the lead … under caution … with 20 laps to go.
Doesn’t get much worse than that.
Well, until you blow an engine in a race you absolutely need to finish in order to advance in the playoffs.
“It just goes with our year. I don’t even know what to say. I’m flabbergasted,” said Busch, who was then asked if he planned to stick around for the end of the race.
“I’m going to the house. I’ve got kids at home,” he responded.
Dad on duty!
Kyle Larson blames penny-pinching spec parts for engine failures
NASCAR’s other Kyle – defending series champion Kyle Larson – managed to survive the first round of the playoffs and is moving on.
Larson finished fifth at Bristol while everyone else was either blowing an engine or a tire, and acknowledged he was a little nervous as the laps ticked down.
— Noah Lewis (@Noah_Lewis1) September 18, 2022
“That what you get when you have spec parts” is a sneaky vicious line from a savvy Kyle Larson, but he’s right. NASCAR moved to this Next Gen car, in part, to save money. Every team essentially uses the same parts now, and they’re cheaper.
The on-track product, of course, is gonna suffer in some way – at least in the short term.
When tires are blowing up left and right, people are losing engines (which shouldn’t happen in 2022), and cars are just randomly catching fire (Kevin Harvick missed the next round, too, but at least he’s not fried!), it’s obvious the product is cheaper.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Martin Truex Jr., who fell victim to a crappy car at Bristol.
— Steve Luvender (@steveluvender) September 18, 2022
So simple, yet so elegant. Love it.
Hard to beat good ‘middle-finger-to-inanimate-object’ humor. Always funny.
Chase Elliott tells NASCAR to stop competing with the NFL
Last year’s champion is telling NASCAR to stop being cheap, and the 2020 champ – Chase Elliott – wants the sport to alter the schedule.
And by alter, I mean wrap it up by Labor Day, fellas!
“Thirty-six, 45, 50, I don’t think it matters how many races we have,” Elliott said before taking the green at Bristol. “But I don’t see any reason in competing against NFL football when that starts. In my opinion, that’s not a battle we’re ever going to win. I think we should be smart about that.”
Yep. Chase is 1,000% correct. NASCAR should listen, but they won’t.
Look, let’s be honest. The Saturday night Bristol race was AWESOME back in the day, but then NASCAR moved it from August to September, and it ain’t the same.
And it’s so obvious why …
You’re putting it head-to-head with primetime college football! How dumb is that? The only thing dumber is having them race on Sunday afternoons in the fall.
Oh wait … they do that, too!
NASCAR could absolutely make it work logistically, by the way. Anyone remember them somehow getting all 36 races in back in 2020 despite losing two months to the pandemic?
You could mix in one mid-week race a week for 10 weeks to start your season, and then have your 10-race postseason take center stage all summer – when NOTHING ELSE IS GOING ON.
Just a thought.
Red Farmer, NASCAR Hall of Famer, wins race at 89
On our way out, let’s give Red Farmer some love.
Yes. Red Farmer. You know, the 89-year-old NASCAR Hall of Famer who is STILL racing, and winning, Late Model events.
Farmer was inducted into the Hall earlier this year, turns 90 next month, and has one hell of a track record.
And by that I mean he … survived the helicopter crash that took Davey Allison’s life. Survived COVID-19. And survived a tornado ripping his trailer to shreds.
Red Farmer’s house got hit with a tornado along with his Late Model. Thankfully, he is okay and looking at the damage! pic.twitter.com/f1At0v9dhO
— Dirt Racing Media (@DirtRacingMedia) March 25, 2021
Legend. Absolute legend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. drops some F-bomb knowledge
On our way out, Part 2 …
I’ll leave you with this tweet from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is constantly putting my brain in a pretzel.
So I was googling the historical usage of the F 💣 . We stopped using it in the early 1800s and then picked it back up just after 1950? Apparently, it was banned in print in the 1800s and didn’t show back up in dictionaries till the 1960s. #TheMoreYouKnow pic.twitter.com/Bnoc5jeZQ4
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 15, 2022
Who knew? Obviously, we were a far more civilized society back in the 1920s, and now we know it’s because we spoke with grace and elegance.
Those were the days.
Noah Gragson crushes White Claws during COVID
OK, this is the last one, I promise.
Noah Gragson, who will join Richard Petty’s NASCAR Cup team next season, is an absolute lightning rod in the sport and he should immediately inject some life into the Cup garage.
Noah Gragson was asked about his puking during his 'Door Bumper Clear' appearance earlier this week. Gragson talked about holding his breath and this 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/cfxB9MeKbj
— Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) September 17, 2022
Noah is just one of us, and that, folks, is what makes NASCAR great.