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The last elimination race of the season is here. NASCAR’s playoffs are coming to an end and in these last two races the complicated system is pretty straightforward. In this race, four drivers advance to the Championship Four in Phoenix. In the next race, the highest placed in this group wins a title.
Kyle Larson has already advanced with two wins in the lap. This leaves three places for seven drivers. Two of them, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, are 32 or more points from the intersection and should progress with every clean race tomorrow. It’s a little harder for the other five.
All of Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski are within 6 points of the final cutoff line while Joey Logano is 26 points behind. If Elliott and Hamlin have normal races and finish in the top 15, there is a good chance that the top finishers from Busch, Blaney, Truex and Keselowski will advance. With so many cars to overtake, Logano either needed the bad luck for four cars and a great race or a win to advance.
All of these scenarios play out on the unpredictable short circuit in Martinsville, so expect Don’t think this will be easy. Last year, this track caught title favorite Kevin Harvick early and put him in a position he couldn’t recover from before the end of the race and ended his season before the championship race in Phoenix. That led directly to Chase Elliott winning his first career championship.
That will be the thought above the heads of the two contenders who have not yet officially qualified for the finals. Could Denny Hamlin, who has stood near Kyle Larson all season and shown the best speed of all on short intermediates with the 750hp package used at Phoenix all year round, on his best track today getting caught? Could Chase Elliott get caught up in something on the track and be eliminated before he can defend the title? If either one slips, Busch, Blaney, Truex, Keselowski and Logano will all be pushing to take their place in the final race of the season.