The NASCAR Cup Series begins its playoff schedule at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Unlike years past, Las Vegas will be the first race of the playoff schedule. NASCAR hosted some events on the Las Vegas Strip to give people an exposure to the world of NASCAR. Going forward, it would be great to see NASCAR’s attempts in bringing more fans into the sport pay off. Hopefully, this effort will allow them to gain some footing out west.
Starting the race, Joey Logano passed up pole sitter, Erik Jones for the lead. Logano held onto the lead until it was time for the drivers to start cycling through green flag pit stops. Once everyone cycled through, Kevin Harvick took control of this race. However, Martin Truex Jr. would not let Harvick out of his sight. Truex Jr. raced down Harvick and was able to make a pass for the lead late in the stage. The former champ, Truex Jr. won the first stage.
Martin Truex Jr. continued to lead going into the second stage of the race. After a few cautions, Brad Keselowski won a race off of pit road and he took the restart from the first position. Keselowski and the rest of the Penske team showed great speed all day long. Keselowski continued his hot streak and won the second stage of the race.
Multiple playoff drivers struggled in the third stage of the race. Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin were some of the drivers that had some hard wrecks in the final stage. The Penske team continued to stay out front with Keselowski, Logano, and Blaney stayed within the top-five.
Multiple cautions occurred late in the race allowing for some very exciting restarts between the top-five drivers. The race came down to an overtime restart again, and it was between teammates Logano and Keselowski on the front row. Logano spun his tires on the restart and backed up the high line allowing Keselowski to separate himself from the field and the rest was history. Keselowski continued his winning ways and won his third straight race; advancing him into the next round of the playoffs.
Multiple playoff drivers had some bad luck today. Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones finished in the back of the field due to a wreck in stage two. Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin also wrecked out late in the third stage of the race. Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson also cut a tired and lost multiple positions as they were running top-ten all afternoon.
With these miscues for multiple playoff drivers, the playoff picture now looks like this: Denny Hamlin(16), Erik Jones(15), Chase Elliott(14), and Jimmie Johnson(13) are currently projected to be the first four out. Alex Bowman is hanging onto the last spot to advance, but all this can change in the following weeks.
Brad Keselowski is red hot after winning his third straight, and Martin Truex. Jr had a great bounce-back race after struggling the past few weeks.
Next week’s race will be run in Richmond for some short track action. We will see if some of these drivers that struggled on Sunday will be able to have a strong run next week.