NASCAR’s Cup Series playoff standings were shaken up during the opening race of the Round of 16, Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington.
Kyle Busch, William Byron and Michael McDowell exited the race by Lap 200 of the 367-lap event, and defending series champion Chase Elliott went out with 41 laps remaining. All four drivers wrecked.
First, McDowell spun and crashed on Lap 31:
Then Busch made contact with Austin Dillon’s machine, spun and destroyed the rear end of his car on Lap 125.
Busch was steamed at his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team, not Dillon, after the wreck.
“We were running like s—, we got wrecked, so that’s what you get when you run like s—,” Busch told NBCSN. “Shouldn’t be there. I don’t know what our problem is.”
“The M&Ms Camry was not very good,” he added, “and we were running terrible and we got wrecked. Wasn’t the 3’s (Dillon’s) fault.”
Busch drew the attention of NASCAR Twitter for running over safety cones on his way to the garage.
(UPDATE: Busch was not called to the hauler, according to reports.)
Byron’s car skidded into the outside SAFER barrier on Lap 200 after the left front tire of the 24 car went flat.
“Nothing we could do,” Byron told NBCSN after exiting the infield care center.
Elliott also hit the wall after a left front went down. Contact with Christopher Bell’s car caused the flat.
Busch came into the race fourth in the playoff standings, Elliott fifth, Byron eighth and McDowell 13th. They ended the night 14th, 10th, 15th and 16th, respectively.
They have two more races to avoid elimination: Saturday’s race at Richmond and the Sept. 18 race at Bristol. A win will automatically get them into the second round, the Round of 12.
This article has been updated with Elliott’s crash and news on Kyle Busch.