Tha Sports Junkies 101

Truex Jr. Wins Crazy Kansas Elimination Race



The day started with 12 drivers in the championship hunt; after 400 miles at Kansas, 4 would be eliminated. The Kansas elimination race was a drama-filled and unpredictable race. In the end, Martin Truex Jr. won his record 7th race of 2017.

Stage 1 and 2 Highlights

Starting the day, Truex Jr. was on the pole. Winning this pole had added significance, as it means the 78 team will have the first pit-stall selection next week in Martinsville. As is typical, the 78 looked strong on a mile and a half track. Truex would lead every lap through the lap 30 competition caution.

Also in this first run, Ryan Blaney would gain an impressive 25 positions. He started the race last due to a qualifying inspection failure. In addition, Truex surpassed the 2,000 laps led mark for 2017 on lap 23. Many thought that a poor starting position would result in Kansas elimination for Blaney.

Truex won the race off pit road and restarted up front. On the restart, he was penalized for changing lanes before the start-finish line. He went below the white line, causing him to be sent back to 31st. With Truex’s struggles, Kyle Busch inherited the lead.

On lap 67, Kyle Larson came to pit road with an engine issue. He would lose 3 laps, and his engine expired on lap 77. These misfortunes would cause Kansas elimination for Kyle Larson. He was considered a championship favorite.

Due to the caution brought out by Larson, Stage 1 ended under caution, with Kyle Busch out front. This was stage win number 14 for the 18 team.

Truex again had troubles in Stage 2. He made an unscheduled pit stop on lap 92 due to a loose wheel. Another caution came out late in Stage 2. NASCAR determined this to be a ‘quick yellow,’ meaning that Stage 2 would end with a 1 lap shootout. 6 drivers stayed out under the abbreviated yellow, and Denny Hamlin won Stage 2.

Calamity Breaks out in Final Stage

Kevin Harvick started the final stage as the leader after Hamlin was speeding on pit road. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought out a caution on lap 175 by hitting the wall. In the end, the 17 team was also victim to Kansas elimination. This caution mixed up strategies, as the field was divided between who pitted or stayed out.

With 50 laps remaining, Jimmie Johnson got loose in front of Kurt Busch and spun, bringing out a yellow. The 48 car spun again on lap 194. However, the 48 was able to continue on with minimal damage.

Lap 198 was a major turning point in the complexion of the race. On the restart, Erik Jones got loose, over-corrected, and made major contact with Daniel Suarez. Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, and Joey Logano were all involved. This wreck was damaging enough to bring out a brief red flag.

Under the caution prior to the red flag, Matt Kenseth’s pit crew was attempting to fix his car. They had 7 crew members over the wall while on the crash repair clock. As a result, Kenseth was parked for the rest of the race, ending his championship chances.

Race Finish

Back under green flag conditions, Kyle Busch was leading again. While Busch did have a fast car, Truex was faster. On lap 211, Truex passed Busch for the lead. Consequently, Truex would survive a late-race caution to win in Kansas. This win marked Truex’s 7th victory of 2017, as well as his 6th this year on a mile and a half. This is a new NASCAR record, surpassing Carl Edwards’ mark from 2008. In addition, Truex swept both races this year in Kansas. He is the first driver to win both Kansas races in a single year.

Lastly, this win was dedicated to Jim Watson. He was a Fabricator for Furniture Row Racing, who passed away Saturday due to a heart attack. He was 55 years old.

In conclusion, the 4 drivers who Kansas eliminated from the Playoffs were Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Only 8 drivers remain to battle for 4 spots in the championship race. The Round of 8 will begin with next week’s First Data 500 from Martinsville Speedway.