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Kevin Harvick kept main challenger Kyle Busch at bay on Saturday night, scoring his ninth season win of the NASCAR Cup Series as the playoff field was reduced from 16 to 12 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
RELATED: Unofficial Results
Harvick’s # 4 Ford Stewart-Haas Racing led 226 of the 500 laps in the annual Bass Pro Shops Night Race, which was first held during the playoffs. His third win at the 0.533-mile Tennessee track was the 58th of his Cup Series career.
Busch finished second for the fourth time this season in the number 1
Harvick and Brad Keselowski had already secured a spot in the next three races in the 10-game post-season, based on their previous round of 16 wins. Denny Hamlin was already in the round of 16 with his points ahead. Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Busch, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Almirola and Kurt Busch also advanced on points.
Rookie Cole Custer, William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto were eliminated from the playoffs.
Byron’s fate was the first to be decided. His Chevrolet No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports retired after just 232 of 500 laps, taking front terminal damage in a tangle with Christopher Bell and Joey Gase. Byron finished 38th in the field of 40 cars.
DiBenedetto crashed three laps after making an unscheduled pit stop with the Ford Wood Brothers Racing no. 21 for a loose wheel on the 186th lap. He bounced back to head back early in Phase 3 but finished three laps back to 19th and out of the playoffs.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is the South Point 400, scheduled for September 27 (7pm ET on NBCSN / NBC Sports App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event is the first of three rounds of 12 post-season races.
This story will be updated.