NASCAR Playoffs Down to the Round of 12
With three NASCAR playoffs races already behind us, we’re now down to the Round of 12, as we head into the midway stages of the championship fight. There have been some exciting races in the past few weeks, and with four drivers already eliminated, the racing will now get much more serious. If you’re going to continue following the post season, then you’ll need to know who’s involved, and we’ve put together all of the most important information that will help bettors and casual viewers cash in on NASCAR odds.
Kyle Busch Wins the Final Race of the Round of 16
The last race in the Round of 16, at the Dover International Speedway, was won by one of the playoffs favorites – Kyle Busch. The win for him and his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry was not guaranteed, and came from a late steal over Chase Elliott, leaving fans with the most exciting finish of the post season so far.
With 40 laps to go and four seconds separating Busch and Elliott, it didn’t look like Busch would be able to take the lead position. His moment came when Elliott was held up by some of the lapped traffic, cutting down the gap and giving Busch the opportunity to cut through. His experience was an advantage in this situation, just as Elliott’s relative lack of experience was his undoing. This was Busch’s second win of the post season, and now makes him a clear favorite as we head into the next round. When talking after the race, Busch was still on a high from the win. He told the media:
“Man, I saw the carrot out there, and I wanted to go and get it. I got within five lengths and I stalled out and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I think that was it.’ you know? But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling. Chase was kind of plugged up with the lapped cars in front of him, so I think the lapped cars actually helped us with that one. But, overall, just a great day for us. Great job for the team being able to get in Victory Lane here in Dover. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in Victory Lane here, and it’s hard to come by wins here because Jimmie [Johnson] takes up all the darn monster trophies. But, it’s nice to have a third or fourth in my collection… I can’t remember.”Busch was clearly ecstatic to have won the race, and this puts him up to 2nd place in the NASCAR playoffs Round of 12 standings.
Chase Elliott Was Devastated to Lose the Victory in the Final Moments
While Kyle was understandably excited and pleased to take the win, Chase Elliott was devastated after the race. Having held the lead, the young driver imagined that this would be his first victory in NASCAR. Unable to make his way around traffic quickly, he ultimately lost out. When Elliott finished second, it took a long time for things to sink in as he sat in his car in the pit road, with his head in his hands. When he was finally able to speak to the media, he said simply: “I gave it away.”
This isn’t the first time that Elliott has let a victory slip away from him, and this will be something for him to consider over the next week, as he prepares for the next race. He praised his team, saying that: “I appreciate my team and their efforts today. The pit stops were great and they kept us in the ballgame. I didn’t.” If not for his difficulty in passing traffic during the late laps of the race, there’s little doubt that Elliott would have been able to win at Dover.
He was perhaps not aggressive enough in clearing the traffic, which is not the right way to drive when you’re in the elimination stages of the season. Elliott said that “I thought if I had a clean track, I could have run as fast as [Busch] did. But, I didn’t, and I should have done something different. So that’s just on me, and he did a better job than I did. At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.” Kyle Busch was sympathetic, but also had some critique for Elliott’s choice to stay on the back of the traffic, rather than aggressively move around.
After the race, Busch said that “The only thing Chase could have done differently was just moved around and tried to get out of the wake of the cars that were in front of him. He could have just tried to blitz them on the top and get around them sooner, but other than that, I think he was just so focused on what he had [been doing] all day long, making the bottom work, that he just stuck with it. When you have been leading for that long, and you’ve lost that amount of distance to the car behind you, you’ve got to move around. You can’t give up four seconds of the lead and not do something else. I feel like that’s kind of where they lost it today.”
Still Some Positives for Hendrick Motorsports
Busch’s observations will be shared by many who watched the race, and Elliott will learn from this experience. At just 21 years of age, Chase doesn’t have close to the amount of experience that Busch does, and there’s still plenty of time for the victories to come to him. The fact that he was so close to winning, further proves that anything can happen in these playoff races. Hendrick Motorsports can still take some good things from this race. Although Chase ultimately lost the lead position, he still finished in 2nd place, and teammate Jimmie Johnson was not far behind him in 3rd. This is great news for the team, as they will ultimately aim to get both drivers into the Round of 8. At the moment, they’re both comfortable in the Round of 12, with Elliott in 10th place, and Jimmie Johnson in 5th.
Current Standings in the Monster Energy NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12
- Martin Truex Jr. – 3,059 points
- Kyle Busch – 3,041 points
- Kyle Larson – 3,034 points
- Brad Keselowski – 3,020 points
- Jimmie Johnson – 3,017 points
- Kevin Harvick – 3,015 points
- Denny Hamlin – 3,013 points
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 3,010 points
- Ryan Blaney – 3,008 points
- Chase Elliott – 3,006 points
- Matt Kenseth – 3,005 points
- Jamie McMurray: – 3,003 points
Martin Truex Jr. is still the bookmakers’ favorite for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup title, but Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are close behind. Both Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson are also in the top 10 most favorable odds, so there are still plenty of opportunities for bettors before the season ends.