It might have been Kansas, but the action was a whole lot like a Las Vegas slot machine. Gold bar. Gold bar. Grapes. Dammit!
Take Kevin Harvick, for example. He was second best on the opening stage. He was the best in the second stage. He was dominating the third stage, at least until he went speeding on pit road. Dammit!
Alex Bowman was needing a win. Then Daniel Suarez clipped him on the second lap. Then he hit the wall on his own. He soldiered on and finished ninth. Nice job, but he needed to win. Dammit!
Boys needing to pick up points did. Kyle Larson even contended for a time for the win, finishing third. Brad Keselowski came across the line in Kansas in sixth, one spot ahead of Ryan Blaney. Good results. Not enough. Blaney came the closest, but even with top three runs in both opening stages he still wound up six points shy of both Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer. Dammit!
As for Chase Elliott, Harvick’s miscue was to his benefit. He inherited the lead and held it. For the second time in this round, and the third time this season, Bill’s boy was a winner. Like Aric Almirola, he entered Kansas locked into the next round. After the opening stage, so was Harvick. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano followed after the second. That left it to Martin Truex Jr., Bowyer and the elder Busch, who was a lap down in 18th, to survive. They did.
Rowdy and Happy enter Martinsville and the third round of playoffs up by 40 and 39 points respectively in their quest to be among the final four at Homestead. Stay out of trouble, and they should be good as gold. Easier said than done. Almirola, in eighth, enters 12 points shy of Elliott in fourth place.
Some contenders have done well at the upcoming venue. Kyle Busch has a pair of wins. Bowyer has one. Logano, Blaney, and Harvick usually find themselves at least in the Top 15. Nothing but top ten finishes, however, should be the minimum goal. As for the top three among active drivers at Martinsville, that most definitely would include Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Keselowski. Unfortunately, all have already been eliminated from championship contention.