Chase Elliott was running good enough to get himself into the Round of 8. He just had some bad luck at times in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The Hendrick Motorsports driver won in the opening round’s cutoff race on the Charlotte ROVAL. It was his second win of the season. He then blew an engine just seven laps into the opening race of the Round of 12 at Dover. He then was involved in a crash in the next race at Talladega, but still rebounded to finish eighth with a wrecked race car.
Elliott, would finish runner-up in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 and advance to the third round of the Cup playoffs for the third consecutive year. That’s not in all too surprising. But, his lack of stage/playoff points is why he was even in the position that he was in. But, it was the few playoff points that he had as to why he moved on too.
Brad Keselowski came into the Round of 12 with five top five finishes in his last six races of the season. But, he also hasn’t won a race since May 11 either. He finished 11th, 25th and 19th respectively in a terrible round for him. Counter Elliott having eight top 10 finishes, two of which being wins and five being top 10’s over the last 11 races and you get a driver with enough playoff/stage points to get past Keselowski.
But, Keselowski and arguably the other three that were eliminated from championship contention on Sunday had a much stronger case to advance on over Joey Logano.
Remember, I said Keselowski had five top five finishes in his last six races entering this round. What if I told you that as we sit here today, Joey Logano has just one top five finish in his last 15 starts on the season. He also has just five top 10’s in that timeframe. Keselowski, has eight in that same span.
Logano moves on and Keselowski not. Logano, finished ninth, 11th and 10th in Round 1 and 24th, 11th and 17th in Round 2.
Clint Bowyer was also sent home but he had seven top 10 finishes over his last nine starts on the season himself. He finished better than Logano in four of the six playoff races including the one on Sunday. But, he leaves Kansas eliminated from championship contention.
So does Alex Bowman. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had three top six finishes in six playoff starts. He was second in Charlotte, third in Dover, sixth in Vegas. He placed ahead of Logano in four of the six postseason races as well. He too saw Logano advance on instead of himself.
So did Bowman’s HMS teammate of William Byron. The North Carolina native earned a top five finish in his No. 24 Chevrolet in the Hollywood Casino 400. He had four top seven finishes in his last seven starts on the season.
So, how did Keselowski, Bowman, Byron and Bowyer get eliminated and Logano move on?
The answer is simple – playoff and stage points.
As I said, Keselowski hasn’t won since May 11. The others struggled heading into the playoffs and lacked points.
Bowyer, may have seven top 10 finishes in his last nine starts on the season but he had just four in his previous 14 tries. Bowman, came into the postseason with one top 10 finish over his last nine regular season starts and one top five over his last 14 overall. Byron, had three top five finishes all season. They had nine playoff points combined. Logano, had 30.
Then, just look at the stage points. Logano, scored 32 over the last two weeks alone. Byron, had 27, Keselowski 21, Bowman 18 and Bowyer 13 in all three races combined.
Stage points and playoff points got Logano by and the others not.