Playoff participant Blaney penalized before Southern 500

Playoffs begin with 14 drivers chasing Harvick and Hamlin

Playoffs begin with 14 drivers chasing Harvick and Hamlin

Once they touched and hit the wall, things opened up for Harvick, who suddenly found himself out front. Before the accident, Elliott tried taking the low side of the track to make sure Truex could not pass him, a decision that NBC Sports commentators questioned. Martin Truex Jr. led most of those laps, 196 of 367, and was well-positioned for a top-three finish.

"Anytime you can win the Southern 500 is a good day", Harvick said.

Harvick's May victory at Darlington came in NASCAR's return after a 10-week pause at the start of the pandemic. When he won that race - held without spectators - he pointed into the television camera and told the fans how much they were missed.

With seven wins going into the playoffs and the team's goal to get that number to 10 by the championship race, Childers said the team wanted to continue to build momentum into the postseason. "I felt like I had enough of a run and enough space there that the last foot or so he (Chase Elliott) was going to understand that if I was committed, we both weren't going to make it", Truex described the incident with Elliott.

"Just not enough room there for both of us", Truex said about the botched pass for the lead. I think it was close, obviously. The Team Penske driver was outrunning his competitors in the Spring before getting swept up in an accident with a lapped vehicle.

Erik Jones, the defending Southern 500 victor who is being replaced at Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season, finished fourth in a Toyota.

The 10 point deduction drops Blaney to the bottom of the playoff field for the start of the first round. Elliott's run to the lead was a testament to the No. 4 team's strategy, since Elliott, who led the second-most laps of the evening, pitted around the same time as Harvick.

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Elliott was disappointed with the result after leading 114 laps and being in position for the win. I hate it for the 9 team [of Elliott]. "Thought I had a gap".

NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 following an internship at The Washington Post. The top 12 drivers advance to the second round after three races.

NASCAR docked Blaney 10 points and issued a one-race suspension for his crew chief Todd Gordon after the auto failed pre-race inspection.

In pre-race inspection, NASCAR discovered improperly mounted ballast on the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang.

Crew chief Todd Gordon also was suspended for Sunday's race.

Blaney's owner, Team Penske, said in a statement that a 5-pound bag of lead normally used to simulate fluid weights prior to installing the race engine "was accidentally left in the auto".

Dillon, in a Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, was second.

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