ELLIOTT WINS AT KANSAS TO MAKE CONTENDER STATEMENT HEADING INTO ROUND OF 8 PLAYOFF SEGMENT
Here’s a weekly glance at the four-round, elimination-style Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that make a stop at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 4, for the AAA Texas 500, the middle race of the Round of 8. Brief recaps of the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Playoffs also are included as both series will compete at Texas Motor Speedway as part of a NASCAR Playoff tripleheader weekend set for Nov. 1-4.
Playoff Field: The eight-driver field that advanced to the three-race Round of 8 consists of defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing; Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports; Joey Logano of Team Penske; 2014 champ Kevin Harvick, 2004 champ Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing; and 2015 series champ Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Race Recap: Elliott made a playoff statement by winning Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway for his second victory in the three Round of 12 races. The Round of 12 elimination race had no bearing on Elliott, who already secured a berth in the next round by virtue of his win at Dover two weeks ago, as well as any of the eight drivers that entered Kansas above the cutline. All eight advanced, including the quartet from Stewart-Haas Racing, while Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman were eliminated. “We just can’t get complacent,” Elliott said. “This is a huge time of year. We have a lot of work to do and a long way to go.” Elliott took advantage of a pit road speeding penalty by Harvick, the race leader, on Lap 214 of 267 and inherited the lead when Keselowski stayed out to gain the lead and was forced to pit 10 laps later. Elliott led the final 44 laps and held off a hard-charging Kyle Busch by .903 of a second for his third career Cup win. Larson finished third, Erik Jones fourth and Truex Jr. fifth.
Click https://goo.gl/5PCSSR for the race recap at NASCAR.com.
How They Stand: The Playoff field was trimmed from 12 to eight drivers with Blaney, Keselowski, Larson and Bowman being eliminated following Kansas. With the start of the Round of 8 beginning this weekend at Martinsville, the championship points are reset at 4,000 with drivers also carrying over Playoff points. The Playoff standings heading in are Kyle Busch (1st, 4,055 points), Harvick (2nd, 4,054), Truex Jr. (3rd, 4,038), Elliott (4th, 4,018), Bowyer (5th, 4,015), Logano (6th, 4,015), Kurt Busch (7th, 4,015) and Almirola (8th, 4,006). A victory in a Round of 8 race by a championship-contending driver advances him to the next round and the remaining positions to advance are based off points earned in those three races. Four more drivers will be eliminated from championship contention following the Round of 8.
Next Up: The Round of 8 three-race segment begins with Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: SiriusXM, MRN).
Coming Soon: The AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is the middle event of the three-race segment in the Round of 8, where eight drivers will remain in contention for the Cup championship. The Round of 8 concludes Sunday, Nov. 11, with the Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix (1:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC, Radio: SiriusXM, MRN). These three races will determine which four drivers will head to the Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 19, (TV: NBC, Radio: SiriusXM, MRN) to vie for the series championship.
Xfinity Series Playoff Update: John Hunter Nemechek, a non-playoff contender, won Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway in the Round of 8 opener that was a disaster for some of the top playoff contenders. Nemechek coasted to the win by 5.2 seconds over playoff contender Daniel Hemric, who led 128 laps of the 200-lap race and now moved into first in the Round of 8 Playoff points standings. It was Hemric’s finish coupled with four Playoff contenders – Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer – being involved in an opening lap, multi-car accident that shuffled the Playoff picture. Cole finished 26th, Bell 37th, Allgaier 38th, and Cindric 39th. The other Playoff contenders took advantage with Elliott Sadler finishing third, Tyler Reddick fifth and Matt Tifft sixth. The four drivers currently above the cutline are Hemric (+23), Sadler (+14), Reddick (+11) and Bell (+1), who was able to do so based off the Playoff points he previously earned. The series is idle this week and returns to action at Texas Motor Speedway for the second of three Round of 8 races on Saturday, Nov. 3, with the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Camping World Truck Series Playoff Update: The series was idle this week and returns to action for the opening of the Round of 6 with Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway (Noon CT,TV: FOX Sports 1, Radio: MRN). The drivers that advanced to the Round of 6 are Noah Gragson, Justin Haley, Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Brett Moffitt. Texas Motor Speedway will play host to a Round of 6 race Friday, Nov. 2, with the JAG Metals 350.
Note-While the championship fields are reduced by virtue of elimination in each of the rounds, each race continues to have a full field competing.