The NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight started with Kyle Larson dominating at Texas Motor Speedway. He locked up a spot in the championship race while four former title-winners saw their dreams begin to dwindle. Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano are all under the cutline heading toward Kansas Speedway.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang was the first playoff driver to exit the race. His engine expired on Lap 299, ending his day and relegating him to a 30th-place finish. Logano did not earn any points during the first two stages, and he now sits 43 points below the cutline with Kansas and Martinsville remaining in the Round of Eight. According to NASCAR.com’s Zack Albert, this is the first engine failure for Logano since June 2014’s race at Pocono.
Truex was the next to leave the race after he hit the wall and destroyed the side of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry. He and Daniel Suarez made contact. He tried to correct it “but went into the SAFER barrier. Truex immediately headed to pit road and finished 25th overall. Truex is now 22 points below the cutline with two races remaining in the Round of Eight.
Keselowski’s Strong Performance Didn’t Lead to Major Movement
The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang entered the Round of Eight in the eighth position and 16 points below the cutline. Keselowski needed to have a very strong run in order to make some moves, and he did everything that he could.
Keselowski gained points during all three stages to keep himself in the mix. He finished Stage 1 in the 10th position and then Stage 2 in the fifth position. The 2012 Cup Series champion then battled through the seven restarts in the final stage to lock up a fourth-place finish.
Keselowski remains below the cutline despite the strong performance. He entered Texas 16 points below the cutline and will now head to Kansas 15 points below the cutline. Though Keselowski did overtake both Logano and Truex in the standings.
Elliott Dealt With Tire Issues Throughout the Race
The defending Cup Series champion did not experience a great trip to Texas Motor Speedway. He started the race near the rear of the field after failing pre-race inspection twice, and then he dealt with tire issues throughout the race.
Elliott navigated his way through the field and cracked the top-10 before the end of Stage 1. However, he said over the radio that he was dealing with a vibration, which indicated tire issues. The No. 9 team made some changes, but they did not resolve the issues. Elliott continued to deal with excessive tire wear for the remainder of the race, but he still ended the day seventh overall.
“I appreciate everybody fighting through that and getting our car a lot better,” Elliott told NBC Sports after the race. “We were decent by that point. Obviously, too late, and we had another one vibrate after that. I’m not sure what we had going on there. Still currently confused.”
Elliott is now eight points below the cutline. He is fifth overall with two races remaining in the Round of Eight, and he will have to track down either Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin in order to secure a spot in the championship four.