Charlotte Checkered and Black Flags

M.Truex Jr.

MRN's Pete Pistone presents his winners and losers from the weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Winners and losers from the weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Checkered Flags 

Martin Truex Jr.
Make it six checkered flags after Truex racked up win No. 6 in Sunday’s Bank of America 500. For once, Truex didn’t have the dominant car. But he was more than strong enough when it counted to lead 91 laps on his way to victory.

Chase Elliott
The Hendrick Motorsports driver suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of Kyle Busch last week at Dover. But he rebounded from that disappointment in fine fashion with a second-place Charlotte finish and Elliott now has three runner-up efforts in the opening four playoff races.

Kevin Harvick
It wasn’t a must-win for Harvick at Charlotte, but he sure needed a better finish than the way his first three races in the playoffs went for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver. He delivered, leading a race-high 149 laps and scoring a third-place finish.

Alex Bowman
The young driver is chomping at the bit to take over Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Cup Series ride at Hendrick next year. He showed one of the reasons why he got the opportunity by driving to his first career XFINITY Series win on Saturday for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Earlier Cup Start Time
NASCAR engaged its new policy of starting races up to an hour ealier if necessary in the case of any potential bad weather. The Charlotte area was surrounded by rain and rough weather. On Saturday, the decision to move the green flag up an hour to just after 1 p.m. (ET) was made. It proved to be a smart move as the entire 500 miles got in just ahead of a severe storm that hit the track late Sunday afternoon. Based on response from social media, the earlier start time was well-received by a number of fans that wouldn’t mind that becoming a more regular occurrence.

Black Flags 

Kyle Busch
His bid for three straight wins came to a crashing halt Sunday, literally and figuratively. Busch hit the wall in Friday’s practice and made several additional trips into it in Sunday’s race. He finished 29th with a battered and bruised Toyota that had endured so much damage, Busch had to be treated for overheating and inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide after the race.

Kyle Larson
A miscue on pit road by the Chip Ganassi Racing team potentially cost Larson a much better finish than 10th. Mistakes can cost teams championships and Larson’s needs to minimize those kinds of issues going forward.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver dug himself a hole to start the second round of the playoffs, just as he did in the opening round. Stenhouse’s miserable Charlotte afternoon put him in the basement of the post-season standings heading into what now becomes a critical Race 2 of Round 2 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Joey Logano
It’s been a long, trying season for Logano - who missed the playoffs thanks to his encumbered Richmond win back in April and continues to struggle as the schedule winds down. He was out of contention nearly all weekend at Charlotte, ending up with a 26th-place finish.

PJ1
The time has come to stop smearing the substance over every racetrack in hopes of creating more grip and, therefore, "better" racing. The PJ1 created the opposite on Friday with a slick condition sending several cars into the wall. Ryan Newman called it "fabricated," Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t a fan and other drivers say it’s a gimmick. The bottom line is that it worked at Bristol because of the unique concrete surface and that track’s layout. PJ1 is not the end-all and be-all some are making it out to be. As the Charlotte weekend proved, it can also create a detrimental situation.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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