THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. One advances
Thanks to a blown engine by Kyle Larson at Kansas, followed by Denny Hamlin wrecking race leader Chase Elliott at Martinsville, Kyle Busch has gone from the brink of elimination in the NASCAR playoffs to second in the standings, with a pass to the Championship Round in three weeks. “I wanted to win Charlotte, Martinsville and Homestead and that’ll make us this year’s champions, so we’ve got one more,” Busch said.
2. Refreshing feud
It was hard to find a sinister word spoken after the crash-o-ramas at Talladega and Kansas. Who would have figured Martinsville would supply a spark for an emerging feud? You have to keep an eye on Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott over the next three races after Hamlin shoved Elliott’s Chevy into the wall. The 21-year-old showed his emotions, and the crowd loved it. Hamlin wisely apologized on social media afterward.
3. Playoff outlook
Martin Truex Jr. has enough spare playoff points to get a seat for the Championship Round at Homestead, so realistically, there are six drivers battling for the two remaining positions at Homestead. Kyle Busch got in on his win Sunday. Fourthplace Kevin Harvick is on the points bubble 26 points behind Brad Keselowski. Only eight points separate Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney and seventhplace Denny Hamlin.
In the past two weeks, Kyle Busch went from nearly exiting the NASCAR playoffs to earning a spot in the Championship Round.