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NASCAR Cup Series | Results and 3 takeaways from Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway

The path to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship just got a lot easier for Martin Truex Jr., center. Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Truex won his seventh race of the season and Kyle Larson’s engine blew, knocking him out of the playoffs.
The path to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship just got a lot easier for Martin Truex Jr., center. Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Truex won his seventh race of the season and Kyle Larson’s engine blew, knocking him out of the playoffs. AP

Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s playoff cutdown race at Kansas Speedway, which gives him seven victories this year, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 race:

1. The playoff leaderboard is a mess

Coming into Sunday’s race, there were some clear tiers on the NASCAR playoff leaderboard. Martin Truex Jr. was alone at the top, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson right behind him. Then there was a middle group that was safe to advance, and then there were the drivers fighting to stay alive: Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch. Well ... forget all that. Larson’s engine blew early and bumped him from the playoffs altogether, and Kenseth’s crew had a penalty that eliminated him prematurely, too. Whatever hierarchy there was is gone now, except for Truex as the man to beat. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are second and third in the standings now, respectively, but next week’s race at Martinsville could easily change that up entirely.

2. Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are still alive ... barely

It was always going to be close as to who was in and out of the third round of the playoffs, but things turned out even tighter than you would’ve guessed. Before the race Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Blaney were slated to be safe, with Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth scheduled to be out. Somehow, those results held, only Busch also replaced Kyle Larson, whose engine blew and shockingly removed him from the playoffs. Johnson spun out twice, skating across the infield grass once and banging into the wall, but he was able to keep his car together despite its wounds. That meant all he had to do essentially was finish the race and he’d be in over Larson, which he did. The seven-time champ kept it close, but safe is safe.

3. With Larson out, who challenges Truex now?

Truex has been the dominant driver all season, and no one will dispute that. But as for challengers, Larson has been just as consistent in constantly pushing Truex at the front of races and top of the NASCAR leaderboard. Now he’s gone, which leaves ... who? That’ll be the question moving forward. Kyle Busch was considered a challenger before his dreadful showings at Charlotte and Talladega tanked him down the standings, but he might still be able to make a run for the championship. Brad Keselowski also won a championship race, so he’s up there in the standings and could mount a challenge of his own. But it’s clear that with Larson out, Truex’s greatest threat is also done. His path to his first championship trophy just got a heck of a lot easier.

Hollywood Casino 400

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup

Sunday

At Kansas Speedway

Kansas City, Kan.

Lap length: 1.50 miles

St

Driver

Car

Laps

*

Rating

1

1

Martin Truex Jr

Toyota

267

0

43

2

15

Kurt Busch

Ford

267

0

35

3

40

Ryan Blaney

Ford

267

0

44

4

14

Chase Elliott

Chevrolet

267

0

39

5

4

Denny Hamlin

Toyota

267

0

50

6

20

Chris Buescher

Chevrolet

267

0

31

7

19

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Chevrolet

267

0

30

8

2

Kevin Harvick

Ford

267

0

47

9

25

Aric Almirola

Ford

267

0

28

10

7

Kyle Busch

Toyota

267

0

43

11

12

Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

267

0

32

12

23

Paul Menard

Chevrolet

267

0

25

13

10

Brad Keselowski

Ford

267

0

32

14

11

Austin Dillon

Chevrolet

267

0

23

15

21

Kasey Kahne

Chevrolet

267

0

22

16

29

Ty Dillon

Chevrolet

267

0

21

17

27

David Ragan

Ford

267

0

20

18

16

Michael McDowell

Chevrolet

267

0

19

19

9

Clint Bowyer

Ford

267

0

18

20

28

Trevor Bayne

Ford

267

0

17

21

17

Joey Logano

Ford

267

0

16

22

30

Matt DiBenedetto

Ford

267

0

15

23

31

Landon Cassill

Ford

265

0

14

24

35

Cole Whitt

Chevrolet

263

0

13

25

37

Reed Sorenson

Chevrolet

263

0

12

26

38

Jeffrey Earnhardt

Chevrolet

261

0

11

27

34

Corey Lajoie

Toyota

261

0

10

28

33

Gray Gaulding

Chevrolet

259

0

9

29

24

Ricky Stenhouse Jr

Ford

256

1

0

8

30

36

BJ McLeod

Chevrolet

254

0

0

31

32

Brett Moffitt

Toyota

238

0

0

32

26

AJ Allmendinger

Chevrolet

232

1

0

5

33

18

Ryan Newman

Chevrolet

203

1

0

4

34

8

Jamie McMurray

Chevrolet

198

1

0

13

35

6

Erik Jones

Toyota

197

1

0

8

36

5

Daniel Suarez

Toyota

197

1

0

1

37

3

Matt Kenseth

Toyota

197

1

0

10

38

22

Danica Patrick

Ford

197

1

0

1

39

13

Kyle Larson

Chevrolet

73

2

0

1

40

39

Derrike Cope

Chevrolet

35

3

0

1

*Reason out: 1-accident, 2-engine, 3-handling.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 125.193 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 11 minutes, 57 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 2.284 seconds.

Caution Flags: 10 for 49 laps.

Lead Changes: 14 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: M.Truex 1-34; Ky.Busch 35-47; B.Keselowski 48-50; R.Blaney 51-53; Ky.Busch 54-81; K.Harvick 82; Ky.Busch 83-128; J.McMurray 129; B.Keselowski 130-144; Ky.Busch 145-156; K.Harvick 157; D.Hamlin 158-162; K.Harvick 163-197; Ky.Busch 198-210; M.Truex 211-267

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): Ky.Busch, 5 times for 107 laps; M.Truex, 2 times for 89 laps; K.Harvick, 3 times for 34 laps; B.Keselowski, 2 times for 16 laps; D.Hamlin, 1 time for 4 laps; R.Blaney, 1 time for 2 laps; J.McMurray, 1 time for 0 laps.

Wins: M.Truex, 7; Ky.Busch, 4; K.Larson, 4; J.Johnson, 3; B.Keselowski, 3; D.Hamlin, 2; R.Stenhouse, 2; R.Blaney, 1; Ku.Busch, 1; A.Dillon, 1; K.Harvick, 1; K.Kahne, 1; J.Logano, 1; R.Newman, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. M.Truex, 4069; 2. Ky.Busch, 4042; 3. B.Keselowski, 4026; 4. K.Harvick, 4017; 5. J.Johnson, 4017; 6. D.Hamlin, 4014; 7. R.Blaney, 4009; 8. C.Elliott, 4006; 9. K.Larson, 2236; 10. M.Kenseth, 2184; 11. J.McMurray, 2138; 12. K.Kahne, 2126; 13. Ku.Busch, 2124; 14. A.Dillon, 2122; 15. R.Stenhouse, 2119; 16. R.Newman, 2107.

NASCAR Driver Rating Formula

A maximum of 150 points can be attained in a race.

The formula combines the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish.

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