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Crashes collect a pair of playoff drivers in the NASCAR postseason opener at Darlington

Lou Bezjak, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

DARLINGTON, S.C. — NASCAR’s Cup Series playoff opener wasn’t kind to Kyle Busch.

The two-time series champion had an early exit on Sunday in the Cookout Southern 500 at Darlington.

Busch hit the wall on lap 124 after contact with Austin Dillon, ending his night. This is the first time in his career that he doesn’t finish a race at Darlington.

The crowd gave a big cheer after Busch’s accident. Busch was clearly frustrated and ran over the cones going back to the garage area.

During an interview with NBC Sports Network, Busch didn’t put the blame on Dillon.

“Wasn’t the 3 (Dillon’s fault). We will just take our lumps. We were running like (crap) and that is what you get when you run like (crap),” Busch said. “I don’t know where our problem is. Every time I go to simulator and we have a good sim session, we suck. I’m done with that.

“The M&Ms Camry isn’t very good and we got wrecked. But it wasn’t the 3’s fault.”

Busch entered the playoffs with the third best odds to win the championship at 7-1. He won twice this season at Kansas and Pocono.

 

Busch wasn’t the only playoff driver that had problems on Sunday.

Michael McDowell, the winner of the season-opening Daytona 500, crashed on lap 30 on Sunday at the Cookout Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Sunday’s race was the first in NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

McDowell qualified for the 16-team playoffs with his win in Daytona, but was considered a long shot in the postseason. His odds are even more daunting for making the next round, which is cut to 12 drivers after Bristol on Sept. 18.

“We know what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to go out and win a race. We’ll fight hard, that’s what we do,” McDowell said in an interview with NBC Sports Network.

McDowell’s accident came on lap 30, when he lost control of the car coming off Turn 2, which was repaved before the race.

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott (tire rub), Alex Bowman (hit the wall) and William Byron also had damage to their cars early on in the race, but they were able to remain in the race.

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