And then there were eight.
Chase Elliott was the only driver below the cutline to save his title hopes in Kansas. Elliott (photo above) went from facing an uphill climb to knocking out a former champion on his way to the Round of 8. In so doing, Elliott became the last man standing for Hendrick Motorsports.
The Joe Gibbs Racing trio of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin still lead the way in this year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs race. Hamlin’s fifth win of the season gives him a renewed sense of momentum going to his favorite racetrack, Martinsville Speedway, with just one more round to survive if he’s going to get another chance at chasing his first championship.
“I love where we’re at, no doubt about it,” said Hamlin. “I cannot wait to get to Martinsville. This week was just supposed to be a fun week for us, kind of check things out and make sure that we are good once we get down the road as we get to other tracks; and I’m pretty happy about where we’re at.”
Each of the three manufacturers is well represented: Toyota and Ford have three drivers in the penultimate round while Chevrolet has two.
Four of the eight drivers are not only former Cup Series champions, but champions with just one title to their name – Kyle Busch, Truex, Logano, and Harvick.
And speaking of Logano, his title defense is still alive after scratching and clawing for every point in this last round.
“The intensity just ramps up every round and every race,” said Larson. “It’s going to get wild.”
Reseeded playoff grid:
Kyle Busch 4,046 points
Martin Truex Jr. + 14
Denny Hamlin + 9
Joey Logano + 2
Kevin Harvick – 2
Chase Elliott – 6
Kyle Larson – 19
Ryan Blaney – 21
The races in the Round of 8 are Martinsville, Texas, and ISM. In last year’s playoffs, Joey Logano won at Martinsville with Kevin Harvick taking Texas, and Kyle Busch winning at ISM.