The legitimacy of the champion produced by the playoff system in NASCAR has been, and will be debated for years to come with fans are either side of the fence. However, the post-season is producing what the sanctioning body wanted – drama.
Eyes were focused in on the final laps of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, with everyone wondering who the eight drivers transferring to the Round of 8 would be. Certainly the late race caution helped up the stakes, but there were plenty of things to watch at the end, from Chase Elliott‘s late-race charge to challenge for the victory, to Brad Keselowski trying to salvage a decent day and losing ground at the end.
Ultimately, Keselowski saw his championships hope end courtesy of a mere three points. Although you could blame the sub-par performance on Sunday, there was also a crash at Talladega Superspeedway and an 11th-place finish at Dover International Speedway. If only he would have finished three spots further up the board any of those times.
Though essentially, Keselowski struggled and handed Elliott a gift – in which he capitalized when necessary.
Elliott gets another breath of life by transferring. After a stellar first round with the comeback win at the ROVAL, an engine failure at Dover to start this round certainly took some wind out of the sails. Though showing he could contend for the victory on Sunday, combined with statistically having done well at both Martinsville Speedway and ISM Raceway, he could be someone to watch moving forward.
Denny Hamlin will enter the Round of 8 with the most momentum, courtesy of his victory on Sunday after pacing the field much of the second half. Historically known as one of the best at Martinsville and solid statistics through the other two tracks, he could certainly mount a charge for the championship. After all, he has finished four of the six playoff events thus far in the top-five.
Putting aside the drama in the final laps involving the playoffs, the Hollywood Casino 400 was still a great race to watch from the fan’s perspective. Between the aged surface and a new tire compound, drivers were using multiple grooves across the surface to try and gain time on their competitors. This allowed for side-by-side racing throughout the entire duration of the event, including a couple battles for the lead.
If every race could be like what we saw on Sunday, then perhaps other gimmicks would not be necessary for fan excitement.
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