Denny Hamlin led a dominating 153 laps to win and advance to the next round of the playoffs. Although 10 drivers officially led laps, Kyle Larson was next in line with 60 and Martin Truex, Jr. led 33. After that, no single driver led more than 7 laps.
The race wasn’t a total bore, nor was it sit on the edge of your seat until the latter stages of the race. A few late restarts and the battle for the final transfer spot made it worthwhile.
The beginning of the race saw a few new names up front. Daniel Hemric and David Ragan made up the front row and Michael McDowell started sixth. Hemric finished 31st, Ragan 26th and McDowell 24th. While their finishes didn’t match their starting positions, it was fun to see them up front, especially Ragan who is not competing full time next year.
In this round, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney won the last two races to advance to the next round. Both were kind of a surprise to me but that is what makes this fun right now. Kyle Busch charged hard at Kansas but he was missing just a little something. Chase Elliott was able to outrace him on the short run over the last couple of restarts and take second place. Elliott had to outrun Busch in order to advance. Even though Brad Keselowski was struggling, he only needed a couple of positions to advance over Elliott. But even with 4 new tires, Keselowski was unable to retain his position to move to the next round.
My picks to not advance through this round were Byron, Blaney, Bowman and Bowyer. I had Keselowski as one of my bubble drivers.
The drivers not advancing are Byron, Bowman, Bowyer and Keselowski.
So not too bad for my picks. The next three races are Martinsville, Texas and ISM (Phoenix).
Martinsville may be the place that Kyle Busch comes back to life. He still leads the points but hasn’t won in a long time. He has a win and hasn’t finished worse than 4th in the last 4 races. This is also the perfect track for someone like Bowyer or Keselowski to play the role of spoiler and take a win away. This Is not the greatest track for Kyle Larson so he will need to step it up in order to advance.
Texas is also not a great track for Kyle Larson and may be the comeback track for Kevin Harvick who has had 2 recent wins and dominated in terms of laps led.
Phoenix has been Kyle Busch’s playground as of late where he has dominated even the once unbeatable Kevin Harvick. Busch has 2 wins and leads in laps led by more than 2:1 over other drivers.
So, who advances to the finale at Homestead? I am glad you asked. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. seem to be locks. Denny Hamlin has been mistake-free and fast, even though these next three tracks may not be his strongest. If he continues to be mistake free, he will advance. That leaves one more spot to fill and where this gets tough. Chase Elliott has been one of the fastest Chevy’s every week and his record at the next three tracks is solid. He will have to beat Harvick and Logano for the final spot. Logano seems to be faster than Harvick right now but Phoenix may be his downfall. My picks to advance:
- Kyle Busch
- Martin Truex, Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
Enjoy the next few races!