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Playoffs come to an end for four drivers at Bristol

William Byron talks about his third-place finish at Bristol that propelled him into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 and what his outlook is in the upcoming postseason races.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell each were eliminated from the Cup playoffs Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Each had their struggles throughout the race and couldn’t overcome it in the final laps.

Reddick had to pit a second time for a loose lug nut on the right rear tire on Lap 255 of the 500-lap race. He had finished the second stage ninth but the extra pit stop dropped him to 26th. He spent the rest of the race trying to make up the deficit. His 12th-place finish left him two points behind William Byron for the final transfer spot.

“We certainly gave up more than two spots over the course of this first round,” Reddick said. “Darlington, getting stuck down a lap at Richmond. Not just one key opportunity, but there was a number that was the difference.

“The situation tonight doesn’t really stick out as the one that makes it sting. It was just unfortunate getting to the playoffs. We don’t really have the pace that we had to just point our way into the playoffs leaderboard.”

Almirola also finished two points behind Byron for the final transfer spot. His team had to fix an oil line that leaked and caused his car to smoke. The team finished the work by Lap 174.

He was 27th by the time the line was fixed. Almirola was running 12th with 100 laps to go but faded and finished 18th. That was six lost points.

“Disappointed to have it end like that just because we had battled so much adversity throughout the night, got into a position where we were running top 10, doing what we were needing to do,” he said.

“That caution came out at the end where we had 18 laps on our tires. We stayed out. For whatever reason when we fired off on those tires, the car was up on the top of the racetrack skating. Wouldn’t turn. Struggling.”

Busch struggled with his car’s handling much of the race and finished 19th. He was six points behind Byron for that last transfer spot.

Michael McDowell needed to win to advance. Instead, he finished 24th, seeing his first run for a title come to an end after three races. He was 49 points behind Byron.