THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Imperial Valley Press - - NASCAR THIS WEEK - — God­win Kelly, god­win.kelly@news-jrnl.com

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.

[AP/STEVE HELBERT]

In the past two weeks, Kyle Busch went from nearly ex­it­ing the NASCAR play­offs to earn­ing a spot in the Cham­pi­onship Round.

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