KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski was in position to advance to the third round of the playoffs until a poor restart ended his championship hopes.
Chase Elliott beat Keselowski by three points for the final transfer spot to the Round of 8, as Keselowski lost six spots on the final overtime restart Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
Keselowski entered the race 24 points ahead of Elliott.
Keselowski’s title hopes came down to the final second and final overtime restart Sunday.
“Just couldn’t get it to go on the restart,” Keselowski said after finishing 19th. “Inside lane restart. Didn’t capitalize on it. Needed to get up and I couldn’t get up and I got sandwiched. Somebody went three-wide and got me to the middle of (four-wide). Just all bad.”
Keselowski would have advanced to the Round of 8 had Denny Hamlin crossed the start/finish line before NASCAR called a caution for a multi-car crash on the frontstretch to send the race into the first overtime. NBC Sports replay showed the caution light on with Hamlin less than a car length from the start/finish line. Had Hamlin reached the line before the caution, the field would have been frozen and the race would have ended.
Instead, the race was headed to a second overtime restart.
Keselowski restarted 13th. He and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano held the final two transfer spots to the Round of 8 and were each three points ahead of Elliott.
But crew chief Paul Wolfe saw it as more than just the final two laps that eliminated the No. 2 team.
Keselowski finished 11th (Dover), 25th (Talladega) and 19th (Kansas) in this round.
“Just really frustrating,” Wolfe told NBC Sports. “We just haven’t been hitting on it. It’s not just here but in general all summer.
“We’re just not fast enough. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to advance. Just not running good enough. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to get better. I talked to Brad after we got done with the first round and said we were going to need to be better and we just haven’t been able to do that to advance.”