The tumult of Talladega is behind and that final lap changed things significantly.
Had Ryan Newman won the phone finish instead of Ryan Blaney, then Blaney would not have secured a spot in the next round and it would have changed the cutline, putting Alex Bowman in the final transfer spot.
Instead, Blaney won, secured a spot in the next round and moved the cutline up, creating a gap between Joey Logano, who holds the final spot, and those behind.
Now, the focus turns to Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
DRIVERS WHO CAN ENJOY THE WEEKEND
Ryan Blaney (Talladega) and Kyle Larson (Dover) don’t have to worry about anything this weekend because their wins in this round have put them into the Round of 8. Enjoy it now before the next round begins the following week and the pressure intensifies.
FEW WORRIES INDEED
Denny Hamlin is 56 points ahead of Alex Bowman, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the next round. It would take quite a series of circumstances for Hamlin not to advance to the next round.
SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
While Kevin Harvick didn’t have a memorable Talladega — few playoff drivers did — his 17th-place finish left him 36 points ahead of Bowman. Harvick also should be in good shape to advance provided nothing catastrophic happens to his car at Kansas.
JUST AVOID TROUBLE
Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano hold the final two transfer spots entering this weekend. Keselowski is 20 points ahead of Bowman. Logano is 18 points ahead of Bowman. Keselowski won at Kansas in May.
“Brad and I are l looking OK,” Logano told NBC Sports after the race. “It’s better than being 18 behind. We’ve just got to be smart (at Kansas) … and no crashing.”
NO HOLDING BACK
Bowman trails Logano, who holds the final transfer spot by 18 points. Elliott trails Logano by 22 points. Bowyer is 24 points behind Logano. Byron trails Logano by 27 points.
All can get in via points but realistically, it’s going to take a win.
“I think we need to go and try to win,” Elliott said after Monday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.
3114 — Denny Hamlin
3106 — Martin Truex Jr.
3099 — Kyle Busch
3094 — Kevin Harvick
3078 — Brad Keselowski
3076 — Joey Logano
3069 — Kyle Larson (Dover win moves him to next round)
*3058 — Alex Bowman
3056 — Ryan Blaney (Talladega win moves him to next round)
*3054 — Chase Elliott
*3052 — Clint Bowyer
*3049 — William Byron
* Outside a transfer spot to the Round of 8