Nick Wass/Associated Press
Chase Elliott earned his second win in three weeks at the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
The No. 9 car already had clinched a spot in the next round of the Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs, but he now has even more momentum heading into the championship stretch after a victory in Sunday’s elimination race.
Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Alex Bowman were the four drivers eliminated after failing to get enough points to reach the Round of 8.
1. Chase Elliott (9)
2. Kyle Busch (18)
3. Kyle Larson (42)
4. Erik Jones (20)
5. Martin Truex Jr. (78)
6. Brad Keselowski (2)
7. Ryan Blaney (12)
8. Joey Logano (22)
9. Alex Bowman (88)
10. Aric Almirola (10)
Full results available at NASCAR.com.
Although Elliott finished third in laps led with 44, he controlled the action down the stretch and avoided any problems to easily earn the checkered flag:
Retweet to congratulate @chaseelliott on his second win in the Round of 12!
#NASCARPlayoffs | #di9 https://t.co/MV070Aj686
This victory also meant only he and Aric Almirola were guaranteed spots in the Round of 8 thanks to their recent wins, leading to the rest of the field coming down to points.
Jamie Little @JamieLittleTV
Those advancing to the round of 8: Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch. Eliminated: Larson, Keselowski, Blaney, Bowman.
It eliminated accomplished drivers, although it wasn’t for a lack of trying:
Nick DeGroot @ndegroot89
It really says something about the strength of this year’s playoff field when the four drivers eliminated all finished inside the top-ten in this race. #NASCARPlayoffs
Larson appeared closest to earning the much-needed victory but couldn’t get into the top spot.
It was a relatively clean race throughout, with only three cautions over the 267 laps. Joey Logano began on the pole and controlled the action, eventually winning Stage 1. Meanwhile, much of the focus was on the overall standings as the race continued:
Bob Pockrass @bobpockrass
After opening stage, not counting where they run (Harvick now clinched) … KyBusch +49, Logano +45, KuBusch +26, Bowyer +21, Truex +14, Blaney -14, Keselowski -18, Larson -36 (Bowman already must win, can’t do it on points).
Kevin Harvick won Stage 2 despite not needing any extra points, but the action behind him was once again important in this elimination event:
Dustin Albino @DustinAlbino
Between the two stages @Blaney ourscored @MartinTruex_Jr by 17 points. He came into the race 22 points behind the No. 78 for the final spot. #NASCARPlayoffs
Meanwhile, Harvick appeared to be in great shape to win his eighth race of the year with 76 laps led until a penalty on Lap 216 set him back:
Penalty: @KevinHarvick called for speeding on pit road!
#4TheCup | #NASCARPlayoffs https://t.co/eadFtn2rK1
This opened the door for Elliott to move to the front of the pack, and he never relented despite some challenges from Kyle Busch and Larson.
There are now four races left in the 2018 season, with the next three races determining who will compete for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16. The Round of 8 will begin next Sunday at Martinsville Speedway with the First Data 500.