Two overtime attempts and good fortune that went Chase Elliott’s way at Kansas Speedway will see the Hendrick Motorsports driver advance in the playoffs.
Elliott was in a 22-point hole going into the elimination race but made the penultimate round by three points. The No. 9 team scored nine points in Stage 1 and six points in Stage 2 before finishing second in the race.
Helping Elliott’s cause was the faltering of Brad Keselowski. As the race wound down, Elliott and Keselowski were separated by less than 10 points with Elliott running eighth and Keselowski 19th, one lap down. A caution with 15 laps to go sent the field to pit road and gave Keselowski the wave around.
Elliott charged on the restart with nine laps to go before a caution set up the first overtime attempt. With Elliott focused on winning the race, the points continued to fall his way as Keselowski made up no ground, even after taking tires for the second overtime attempt.
Elliott took the final transfer spot by three points.
“Honestly, I was just trying to win the race and the rest of it just kind of fell into our hands a little bit with the 2 (Keselowski) having some misfortune and the 22 (Joey Logano) being in that crash,” said Elliott. “Luckily, we got a good bit of stage points in that first one; got (six) more in the second stage; and battled for the win. I was proud of that.
“We weren’t the best car by any stretch, but I did feel like we came here with the mindset to win, and I was proud of that fact.”
From the beginning, Elliott was under the impression he needed to win the race and wasn’t doing any mental math throughout the day. He admitted he was in the right place at the right time, and a pit stop at the end of the race helped put him into position.
“I really thought we were out,” Elliott said. “I had a pretty good restart, gave Denny (Hamlin) a push, and I think William (Byron) didn’t get as good a restart. So, he wasn’t pushing me, and that was what I kind of needed, I felt like, to give Denny a run. Once we singled out, it takes more than a couple of laps to get the momentum up now. So, it was going to be really tough. Denny did a good job on the bottom at not making any mistakes. Like I said, from there, it was a lot luck.”
Elliott was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to advance to the Round of 8.