The final race in the Round of 12 started with two drivers advancing based on wins the previous two weeks (Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney). A few drivers simply needed to start the race and they would likely advance to the next round. Then, there were drivers who needed to have a pretty good day (and avoid a disastrous day) to advance. While other drivers needed to have a great day with other drivers having a disastrous day or more likely win the race to advance.
The Kansas elimination race was full of excitement from start to finish with all the drivers aggressively chasing the outcome they need for their particular situation. A handful of cars showed they had the speed to contend for the win. The NASCAR Playoff picture kept changing as cars would race forward in the field and then drop back. Joey Logano won stage one and Denny Hamlin won stage two.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series post-season picture remained unfocused in the final laps of the race as some accidents led to late-race restarts and NASCAR overtime.
Chase Elliott looked as though he might be able to get the lead and get the win he needed to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs. Then, a caution came out. The first attempt of a green-white-checkered finish looked like it might leave Chase just short of catching leader Denny Hamlin to advance in the post-season. Just a split second before Denny took the white flag the caution light came on again. There would be another attempt at a green-white-checkered.
This time the race would make it to the white flag caution free and then the green flag. While Denny Hamlin was able to hold on to the lead and win the race, Chase Elliott claimed a second place finish. Kyle Busch took home the third place finish with Kurt Busch and William Byron in fourth and fifth places respectively. See the complete race results for the Hollywood Casino 400 here.
Remember earlier when I said some post-season drivers needed to “have a pretty good day (and avoid a disastrous day) to advance”? Well, Brad Keselowski was one of those drivers. Brad finished in 19th place a.k.a had a “disastrous day.” Chase Elliott appeared to need a win to advance until he finished 2nd and Brad finished 19th.
The four drivers eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs following Kansas are Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and Alex Bowman.
The drivers that still have a chance to win the championship by advancing to the Round of Eight are Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney. See the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings here.
The pressure only increases for the eight remaining NASCAR Playoffs drivers as they head to the short track for the first race in the Round of Eight. The First Data 500 is Sunday, October 27th at Martinsville Speedway.
By: Buck Stevens