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Kansas is already behind us, which means that the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs faced another cut.
Four more drivers are out of the championship hunt, and only eight remain.
Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney both scored upset wins, securing an automatic spot in the Round of 8.
The two drivers would otherwise have been eliminated on points, which ended up raising the cutoff line.
In the end, Brad Keselowski was the odd man out as Chase Elliott worked an incredible comeback to advance.
As expected, Clint Bowyer, William Byron and Alex Bowman all dropped out of the fight.
Let’s take a look at the current championship picture.
What: First Data 500
Where: Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA
When: Sunday, October 27th at 3:00 PM EST
How: NBCSN (TV) | Motor Racing Network (Web radio) | NBC Sports App
Keselowski’s elimination came as a real surprise, considering that the Team Penske driver was in the top 4 following the Round of 16.
The 2012 champion looked like a very solid pick for a second title, having finished all three Round of 16 races in the top 5.
But he failed to repeat these results in the Round of 8, failing to score a single top 10 finish.
A retirement at Talladega combined with a poor showing at Kansas sealed his fate.
This means that the top 4 in points has a new member.
That would be regular season champion Kyle Busch, who now leads the points again following the reset.
Busch bounced back from a disappointing performance in the Round of 16, moving to third at the end of round 2.
The 2015 champion has a very comfortable 20 points margin over the fifth place cutoff.
That being said, Busch remains winless this postseason, which leaves very little room for error.
Denny Hamlin has led the standings following Kansas, topping it off with a dominant win.
Just like his teammate, #11 had a disappointing Round of 16, scoring only one top 5 finish.
Hamlin went back to his regular season form in the Round of 12, however, and finished all three races inside the top 5.
It looks like 2019 could finally be his year.
Martin Truex Jr. made it three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the top 3.
The 2017 champion did well in the Round of 16, finishing second at Dover and sixth at Kansas.
A crash at Talladega relegated him to 26th, which is his only non-top 10 finish in this year’s playoffs.
So far, Truex and Hamlin look like the strongest contenders.
With Busch retaking the championship lead following the reset, #19 and #11 have dropped back to second and third respectively.
Truex sits 14 points above the cutoff, while Hamlin has a less comfortable cushion of nine points.
Considering their positive record at Homestead, the teammates could go head-to-head for the championship in November.
Kevin Harvick, meanwhile, quietly worked his way into fourth.
The Stewart-Haas driver also got involved in a crash at Talladega, finishing down in 17th.
Harvick still managed to score a top 5 at Dover and finished ninth at Kansas last weekend.
The 2014 champion has only missed out on the top 10 once this postseason.
He has dropped behind Joey Logano following the Round of 8 reset, but is two points behind the cutoff.
Given his consistency and better pace compared to the reigning series champion, Harvick looks like a safer pick for the Championship Four.
The odds for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup are provided by Unibet NJ.
|Winner||Odds on Unibet NJ|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+350|
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