By Jonathan Fjeld
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Four drivers were eliminated from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship contention following Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman will be reverted back to their pre-playoff points totals along with the points they accumulated through the Round of 16 and Round of 12.
The highest any of the drivers can finish in the final championship standings is fifth.
All four drivers finished inside the top 10 Sunday, with Larson being the highest finisher of the four in third.
“The first round was good for us,” Larson said. “We had really good cars everywhere and then the first two races of this round we were not as competitive as we needed to be to contend to make it to the next round but then today at Kansas, I felt like we were back to normal and challenged like we normally do.”
“I’m just glad that this year didn’t come down to bad luck.”
Keselowski was the second highest finisher of the four in sixth place, with 26 laps led.
“I am proud of what we did down the stretch of the year,” Keselowski said. “We won three races and did all that. I feel like we can go win Martinsville next week so I am excited about that but of course the ultimate goal is to win a championship and we won’t have an opportunity to do that this year.”
Blaney finished in seventh behind teammate Keselowski. Blaney led nine laps and was in contention for the win for much of the race until hitting the wall in the final stage.
“I pushed too hard and got in the fence,” Blaney said. “It is all my fault. Whether it would have worked out for us or not, I don’t know. I don’t think we had the speed the 9 or 4 had. The 9 was super fast. I don’t know. I messed up and cost us a shot.”
Bowman finished ninth in the race and in Stage 2.
“We were a little off in the last two runs and had to fix some damage throughout the day,” Bowman said. “A little frustrated, we had a better car than that. I don’t know if we had a race winning car, the 9 was super good on long runs. I felt much better than him on the short runs, but on the long runs he ate us up. Congrats to him, but we’ll move on to next week.”
The next Cup Series race is next Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, the opening race for the Round of 8.