After next Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway, eight drivers will advance to the next round of the playoffs while four will be eliminated.
Last Sunday’s race at Talladega included multiple crashes that involved playoff drivers, and it drastically impacted the standings. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski are locked into the Round of 8 after their wins over the last two weeks, but the rest of the spots are up for grabs.
The four drivers currently on the outside looking in are Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray.
Seeing Busch on that list is the most surprising considering he had just won back-to-back races to finish the first round of the playoffs, and he’s been one of the fastest drivers all season. He has four wins this season, which is tied for second with Kyle Larson behind Martin Truex Jr.’s six wins. But Busch finished 27th on Sunday at Talladega, and he’s seven points behind Jimmie Johnson on the cutoff line.
Jamie McMurray crashed and left the race during Stage 1, which certainly hurt his chances of making it into the next round since he’s now 29 points back. Unless he wins or comes very close, he will likely be eliminated.
Matt Kenseth is eight points behind Johnson, and he suffered a similar fate to Busch during the massive wreck at Talladega. Stenhouse is 22 points behind, and like McMurray, he will likely need a win or at least stage wins to advance.
Truex and Keselowski are first and second in the points, followed by Kyle Larson (plus 29), Kevin Harvick (plus 22), Denny Hamlin (plus 21), Chase Elliott (plus 20), Ryan Blaney (plus 9) and Johnson.
A lot can change in one race, and Sunday’s race at Kansas promises to be full of drama and tension.
(h/t NBC Sports)