Stewart-Haas Racing’s Daniel Suarez and Clint Bowyer swapped positions at the cutoff for the playoffs following the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
While Bowyer finished seventh, Suarez used stage points and an eighth-place finish to move to 16th in the standings. Suarez came into Bristol trailing Bowyer by six points and now sits two points ahead for the final transfer spot.
“I feel like that was probably the biggest thing of the day,” Suarez said about getting nine points for his Stage 2 runner-up finish. “I feel like that was an amazing call from my crew chief Billy Scott and I’m proud of that call. We have to just keep making those decisions.”
Bowyer rebounded from a spin to record only his second top-10 finish in the last 10 races this season.
“It’s short track racing,” Bowyer said. “You’re making split-decisions. I was trying to pass those two cars and get some more stage points for us and I clipped him. It wasn’t nothing he did, I was just trying to shoot the gap and I had a run on those guys and trying to do all I could do.”
Jimmie Johnson had a tough night and now trails Suarez for the final transfer spot by 26 points.
“For as beat up as that car is and the runs we did on old tires, we had a good night and just a lot of bad luck,” said Johnson, who finished 19th. “I have to look at the truth inside of this team and how strong this team is, how good this team is. I know the results are coming, it’s just a series of bad luck and it all started with a bad qualifying effort. We have to clean things up for sure. This team is really starting to gel and come along.”