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Comments from the eliminated playoff drivers

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

At the end of the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, four driver’s run at a Cup Series championship came to a close.

The drivers eligible for the championship dwindled from 16 to 12 after Saturday night’s race at the east-Tennessee racetrack.

Below is a breakdown of how each fared.

No. 41 Cole Custer (-28 points)
Custer entered the race eight points behind the cutoff, ranked 14th in the standings.

The rookie driver ultimately finished 23rd, three laps down.

“We just struggled here, I don’t know why,” Custer said. “I just can’t thank everyone enough at SHR… Man, I just wish we had a better night.”

No. 24 William Byron (-33 points)
Byron entered the race three points below the cutoff, ranked 13th in points.

Byron, who made the playoffs via his win at Daytona in August, was involved in a lap 232 crash with Christopher Bell while running tenth.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver started 15th and finished 38th, out of the race.

“Just ridiculous that that’s what takes us out,” Byron said.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

No. 12 Ryan Blaney (-37 points)
2020 marked Blaney’s fourth consecutive playoff appearance. The Team Penske driver entered the race 16th in points, 27 points behind the cutline.

Blaney started 14th and finished 13th, two laps down.

“We can still go try to win races,” Blaney said. “…We’ve got seven more races.”

No. 21 Matt DiBenedetto (-41 points)
DiBenedetto, in his first playoffs appearance, entered the Bristol race 15th in points, 25 points behind the cutoff.

DiBenedetto started 16th, led seven laps, and eventually finished three laps down in 19th,

“If we didn’t have any bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all,” DiBenedetto said.

“I can’t possibly explain to people the emotional roller coaster of doing this for a living. I am very appreciative to do it, and love it, and hope I am driving for this team next year.”

The highest any eliminated driver can finish in the driver’s standings is fifth.

The next three races for the Round of 12 are at Las Vegas (September 27), Talladega (October 4) and the Charlotte Road Course (October 11).


Dominic Aragon View All

I am a co-owner and reporter for

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