Kyle Busch will not make the NASCAR Cup Series championship race for a fifth consecutive season.
The defending champion was the most notable elimination from the playoffs following the Bank of America Roval 400 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. The two-time champion faced extreme odds to advance but just ran into too many problems to win his way into the Round of 8.
The other three eliminations were Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon. Moving on is Kevin Harvck, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Joey Logano and Roval winner Chase Elliott.
Busch remains winless through the first 32 races of the season and has never failed to win in a single season — a goal that becomes front and center over the remaining four races in 2020.
“It’s just been the year,” Busch said on the television broadcast after the race. “Nothing has played out and been on our side. It’s just been unfortunate circumstances, a lot of bad luck. These guys on this M&M’s team never give up and they fight all year long, every race and every lap.
“Man, one of them off years. A terrible year for me. As other sports greats could say there are many other drivers that would love to have a year that we’re having, but man it’s just frustrating to know how good we are and what we’re capable of and being champions from last year to not come out here and succeed and be able to win.”
Busch suffered a flat tire early in the race, placing him in an adverse strategy that required rain or several late cautions, inheriting the lead in the closing laps but on much older tires and with the least amount of fuel on the racetrack.
He ultimately ran out of fuel after losing the lead and finished 30th. He is the first reigning champion to not make the Round of 8 since the current playoff format began in 2014.
Bowyer entered the race needing nothing short than a win and went through much of the race without power steering and finished 10th. Almirola finished 16th and Austin Dillon finished 19th – each of them needing to win once the final stage began.
Meanwhile, this is how the Round of 8 will begin, a three-race stretch at Kansas, Texas and Martinsville, that will determine the final four of the Cup Series playoffs at Phoenix.
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