Erik Jones surprised a lot of people and turned a lot of heads when he captured the opening playoff race at Darlington two weekends ago. Less of a surprise but a surprise nevertheless was Bubba Wallace’s victory on Sunday at Kansas, where he went to Victory Lane for the first time in a non-superspeedway race. What these two wins have in common, of course, is that they came courtesy of drivers not in the hunt for the 2022 Cup Series championship. So will a non-playoff driver go to Victory Lane for the third weekend in a row, rendering title contenders completely winless in the Round of 16?
Don’t rule it out. Bristol is a track where just about anything can happen and wrecking someone for the win is generally considered fair game. Throw in the circumstance that it’s a playoff elimination race, and there’s no telling what’s liable to go down. And that includes the possibility of a third non-playoff driver going to Victory Lane in as many weeks. One driver who missed the playoffs but is plenty capable of being this week’s spoiler is Martin Truex Jr.
After being denied a playoff berth by just three points, the 2017 Cup Series champion would love nothing more than to rain on the parade of those who are in contention for the title – especially since he’s winless in 31 Bristol starts. Truex has undoubtedly never been hunger for a win at Bristol, or anywhere, based on the fact that he’s surprisingly winless in 2022 and has endured a disappointing season by his lofty standards.