Chase Elliott first had to determine how you can win at NASCAR’s prime degree. Now that he is obtained that dealt with, the son of 1988 champion Invoice Elliott is chasing a title of his personal.
Elliott gained at Kansas Speedway on Sunday for his second victory in three races, cementing himself as a title risk late in a season wherein mighty Hendrick Motorsports has lagged. He wanted 98 profession begins and possibly a dozen near-misses earlier than he lastly closed out his first Cup victory.
The breakthrough victory 11 occasions in the past sparked Elliott’s efficiency in NASCAR’s playoffs, the second spherical bookended by a pair of Elliott victories. Elliott opened the spherical with a win at Dover and closed it with the Kansas victory.
“We will maintain the hammer down,” Elliott mentioned. “I really feel like we’re amongst these guys that it’s a must to beat, and I feel that’s all you’ll be able to ask for.”
Elliott is the one Hendrick driver and single Chevrolet consultant within the spherical of eight. Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time champion, was eradicated within the first spherical of the playoffs and Alex Bowman was knocked out Sunday.
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Additionally eradicated Sunday had been Staff Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski, each winners within the first spherical of the playoffs, and Kyle Larson.
Larson wanted to win to make it into the third spherical and was frantically chasing Elliott within the closing laps however settled for third. He was docked 10 factors by NASCAR earlier this week for an infraction at Talladega, his workforce misplaced two appeals of the penalty and he was in a must-win state of affairs at Kansas.
“I am really glad that nothing silly took us out of the playoffs this 12 months — we had that battery come out at Dover a pair years in the past, blew up an engine right here final 12 months,” Larson mentioned. “I’d have appreciated to have made it into the following spherical, however I am glad (elimination) wasn’t something different than simply us not performing the place we wanted to be that saved us out of the following spherical.”
Advancing into the third spherical of the playoffs had been Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Joey Logano.
Stewart-Haas Racing has all 4 of its automobiles within the spherical of eight and Ford has 5 of the slots. Toyota has two entrants in Kyle Busch and defending collection champion Truex. Elliott is the one consultant from Chevy and Hendrick, which has struggled this 12 months with a brand new Camaro and a younger driver lineup.
NASCAR’s so-called “Massive Three” of Harvick, Truex and Kyle Busch are nonetheless within the playoffs. Harvick, winner of the second stage Sunday, and Kyle Busch, the runner-up to Elliott, have seemed like championship contenders all season. Truex has been scorching in spurts however was fifth at Kansas, the place he swept each races final season.
“These things is tough man. It reveals how tough it’s you understand to win each races right here final 12 months and run second within the spring after which come again attempting to be higher and battle all day,” Truex mentioned.
Keselowski briefly flirted with a title run by reeling off three consecutive victories, however he ran out of gasoline final week when Talladega went into additional time and it crushed his momentum. He was sixth Sunday.
“We wanted one thing to step up, but it surely simply wasn’t there,” Keselowski mentioned. “I’m happy with what we did down the stretch of the 12 months. We gained three races … however in fact the last word purpose is to win a championship and we cannot have a chance to do this this 12 months.”
Elliott has now taken over Keselowski’s slot as a late challenger to the “Massive Three.”
“This can be a enormous time of 12 months. We have got numerous work to do and a protracted methods to go,” Elliott mentioned.
Extra from Kansas Speedway:
RULING EXPLAINED: Certainly one of Bowyer’s tires appeared to roll to the sting of his pit field throughout a late cease however he was not penalized for what many thought was a violation. Had Bowyer been penalized, it may need helped Blaney keep away from elimination.
NASCAR mentioned after the race Bowyer’s tire was underneath management till it was introduced contained in the pit stall, and the rule states tires can cross into the adjoining pit bins on the within so long as they don’t impede one other automobile or go previous the midway level of the adjoining stall. Had a automobile been pitting in entrance of Bowyer, or if the tire had rolled previous the pit stall quantity painted on the wall, it will have been a penalty.
ENGINE ISSUES: William Byron was knocked out of the race with an engine failure 55 laps into the race. A day earlier, Jamie McMurray had an engine failure throughout follow. Each engines are constructed by Hendrick Motorsports and neither driver is within the playoffs.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., a former Hendrick driver, opined within the NBC Sports activities broadcast sales space what many puzzled: The Hendrick engine division might have used Byron and McMurray’s motors for analysis and improvement functions.
UP NEXT: The opening race of the third spherical of the playoffs, at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner, whereas Bowyer gained at Martinsville earlier this 12 months.