by Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor
(NASCAR)—Denny Hamlin dominated but had to scramble to win at the Kansas Speedway just outside Kansas City. The race determined which eight drivers would advance to the championship round. Hamlin’s win guaranteed him a slot.
Clint Bowyer, who started the day 24 points out of the eighth and final place in the next round of playoffs, grabbed another top-ten but it wasn’t good enough to make the Great Eight round. He finished 21 points below the cut line, his run for the next round crippled by a spin at Talladega last week that cost him two laps and left him needing to win at Kansas to advance.
Late-race crashes and restarts cost 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski his place in the semi-finals. Keselowski went into the race twenty points up on Chase Elliott, fifth in the standings, but was 13th on the last restart and got shuffled back to 19th while Elliott came within .128 of a second of beating Hamlin. Alex Bowman, who went into the race in eighth place in the points ran 11th in the race and missed the cut, too.
The round of eight is Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr., Hamlin, defending series champion Joey Logano, 2014 champion Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney. The next three races, starting next weekend at Martinsville, will determine the four drivers who will race for the championship in Atlanta a month from now.
Bowyer (with three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart when he joined the team for 2017) will be staying with Stewart-Haas Racing at least one more year. Before the Kansas Race, SHR announced that his contract had been extended through 2020. “There’s a lot of pride to be part of the sport like this, something you grew up doing since you were a little boy,” Bowyer said. He’s finishing his third year with SHR this year. Two of his eight career Cup victories have come with Stewart-Haas.
(INDYCAR)—The announcement from Andretti Autosport that it is expanding to five cars, the expansion of Chip Ganassi Racing to three teams, and dominance of the three-car team of Penske racing raises concerns from the owner of a one-car team that IndyCar could hurt itself by overwhelming smaller teams’ chances of growing into winners.
Trevor Carlin has told Motorsport.com, “It’s not really in the spirit of competition and the reason I came to IndyCar was because there’s always the chance of the underdog getting a big result. There still is, but it we end up with—and it’s not a huge stretch at all—a seven-car Andretti team, a four-car Penske and a four-car Ganassi, you’re going to be lucky to get in the top fifteen. So the chances of a team like ours making a breakthrough becomes almost impossible, and that’s when we would probably pack up our bags and leave.”
Carlin Racing moved into IndyCar in 2017 after being one of the leading teams in the Indy Lights feeder series.
NASCAR limits teams to four cars, although the teams are allowed to form alliances with other teams using the same brands of cars.
(FORMULA 1)—Formula 1 heads to Mexico City next weekend for the Grand Prix of Mexico. The series will have only five races after that one.
(Photo credit: Getty Images/NASCAR)