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Playoff Update: What Just Happened At Kansas?

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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The NASCAR Playoff Race at Kansas Speedway is officially in the books and it has been a difficult round so far for our Playoff contenders! Today’s race was littered with tire issues and pit road woes. So, who’s in and who’s out heading into the Round of 16 finale at Bristol? Let’s talk about it.

Safe!

Here’s a cool statistic: The No. 45 car for 23XI Racing has won 3 of the last 4 races at Kansas Speedway! That’s right, Tyler Reddick won today’s event, joining him with Kyle Larson as the two drivers locked into the round of 12! These are currently the only two drivers who are mathematically safe heading into the next round.

Tyler Reddick was so happy to score his second win of the season at Kansas, a track that Denny Hamlin (who won there in the spring) and his 23XI seem to have conquered the last couple of years, that he was hanging out of the car while doing a burnout!

On to the round of 12 for Tyler Reddick!

The Darlington race winner, Kyle Larson (who is also locked into the round of 12) won the first stage of the Kansas race. He would finish the race in the 4th spot.

A Good Points Day

RFK seems to be continuing their hot streak. While Chris Buescher ran into a late-race incident, team owner and driver Brad Keselowski won the second stage of the race and finished in 9th after a botched overtime restart. That said, he is currently 5th in the playoff standings, 33 points over the cutline. Pretty solid and we’re about to head to one of his best tracks–a race he almost won one year before.

Denny Hamlin was strong all day, leading over 60 laps. While he didn’t win a stage, he was consistently in the mix, running in the top-5 until he got the lead late and it would appear that he had the race well in hand. But it would be a late-race caution which would cost Hamlin some track position on pit road. That in tandem with a bad restart virtually eliminated Hamlin from scoring the victory. Still, was able to rally home and finish second behind his 23XI-owned car. That’s a good points day for him and the No. 11 team. After Kansas and heading into Bristol, he sits 3rd in the playoff standings, 49 points to the good.

Tire and Pit Road Issues For Playoff Drivers

Kansas has historically been a trouble track for many NASCAR playoff hopefuls and this year was no different. While many of the problems were careless mistakes on pit road, the more major ones involved flat right rear tires. The first victim of this nature was none other than regular season champion, Martin Truex Jr., who suffered a flat right-rear tire. He would end up hitting the wall and would be done for the day. Starting the playoffs with the huge 15-point bonus the regular season champion gets along with his other playoff points for winning stages and races, Martin Truex Jr. now sits on the outside looking into the Round of 12, 7 points behind Kevin Harvick who just barely snuck in today by staying out of trouble in his final Kansas race. If Truex can inch back into the top 12, he’ll start the Round of 12 with a similar points advantage as he entered the playoffs. If he can’t, he will exit the playoffs unceremoniously in the 13th place.

Despite sitting currently 4th on the Playoff Grid, 44 points to the good, William Byron also had his share of misfortune at the Hollywood Casino 400 today. Good thing he had that points cushion heading into the round! Later on in the playoffs, issues like this will be enough to eliminate a team from contention. Byron would rally back to finish 15th.

The driver of the No. 20 for JGR, Christopher Bell would also suffer from some tire problems, making contact with the wall. He would also have some pit road troubles. He would rally back to finish the race in 8th. He currently sits 10th on the playoff grid, 13 points to the good.

Bubba Wallace’s playoff misfortunes continue as the driver, like so many others, suffered a flat right-rear tire. He finished the race in 32nd off the pace. Already on the outside looking in, Bubba Wallace is now 19 points out of the top-12 in the 14th position in points.

The final caution of the race was caused by yet another Playoff driver Chris Buescher having, you guessed it, a tire failure. He was running pretty decently prior to this. He’d ultimately finish the race in the 27th spot. Heading into the Round of 16 finale at Bristol, he currently sits as the 9th seed, 13+ of the cutline. Thank goodness for his string of fantastic races and the fact that he is the defending winner at BMS!

Must Win

Right now, though not mathematically true, I would classify Michael McDowell as being a must-win driver heading into Bristol. He’s currently the last seed amongst the playoff drivers and is in a steep hole at -40 points. A lot of miracles would have to be performed for McDowell to walk out of Bristol still in the playoffs without nabbing that elusive win. At this point, it looks unlikely.

How has Kansas shaken up your Playoff Brackets, NASCAR fans? Are you having to rearrange things like I am? Do you think Martin Truex Jr. will make it through to the next round or be a 1-round exit driver? Who could’ve predicted that!? Let us know what you think and keep it right here at dailydownforce.com for all of your Playoff updates and drama going on through this 2023 postseason!

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts