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Drivers in danger of being eliminated from Cup playoffs at Kansas

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The Cup playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway is over and unless you were a driver for Stewart-Haas Racing, not much good happened to the 12 driver playoff field.

Aric Almirola won and joined Chase Elliott in the third round.

That leaves 10 drivers scrambling for the remaining six spots.

Outside the top eight, Kyle Larson (26 points behind cutoff) and specifically Alex Bowman (68) are in must-win scenarios as the bottom two drivers.

But who else is feeling the heat of maybe missing out on the next round after Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC)?

Clint Bowyer (21 points above cutoff spot)

Bowyer entered Talladega below the cutoff with Almirola and is in a better position after finishing second in both stages and the race.

He will look to make his spot in Round 3 permanent with a win in Kansas, which would be his first at his home track.

In his last three Kansas starts, Bowyer’s best finish was ninth in the spring 2017 race. He placed 19th and 15th in the next two.

“After the frustrating run at Dover, I had to gain some points,”  Bowyer said. “It didn’t do any good to get good stage points if the guys that I’m racing for this next round do it, as well.  I had to get separated some way, shape or form.

“I mean, that guy sitting in Victory Lane right there (Almirola), as happy as I am for him, that’s a spot that just went away for that next round.

“We have to go home, at Kansas take care of business.  I think we can do that.  We needed an opportunity here.”

Martin Truex Jr. (+18)

After a “miserable” run at Talladega ended in a 23rd-place finish, Truex is likely looking forward to a 1.5-mile track.

Truex owns the final transfer spot on the playoff grid entering Kansas – where he’s won two of the last three races and finished second in the spring.

“I think that’s a good place for us even if we had to win,” Truex said after Talladega. “I am not saying we’re going to go there and win. But anytime we can go to any of those tracks, I feel like we have a shot. It’s racing. A lot can happen as we saw today. We’ll give it everything we got and bring a great car to Kansas. We’ll try to get the checkered flag.”

Brad Keselowski (18 points below the cutoff spot)

The Team Penske driver and defending race winner saw his hopes of winning in Talladega vanish when he had to pit for fuel coming to the green flag in overtime. He finished 27th after he led 21 laps.

Keselowski is now on the outside looking into the top eight despite having won three of five races in September, including the playoff opener.

Keselowski has one top five in his last five Kansas starts (second in spring 2017). He’s placed 13th and 14th in the last two visits.

Ryan Blaney (-22)

After winning at the Charlotte Roval to advance to Round 2, Blaney’s playoff hopes are looking a bit dire.

Like Keselowski, Blaney also had to pit for fuel coming to the overtime restart.

As a result, Blaney has finishes of 11th (Dover) and 29th (Talladega) entering Kansas.

Like Truex, Blaney has some positive recent history at the 1.5-mile track.

He finished fourth and third there last year.

In May, Blaney led 54 laps before he was eliminated in an incident with Kyle Larson with 20 laps to go. He finished 37th.

Below is the playoff grid heading into Kansas.

Results, point standings after Xfinity playoff opener

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Christopher Bell punched his ticket to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs by winning Friday’s race at Richmond.

It’s Bell’s fifth win of the season.

He beat Ross Chastain, Daniel Hemric, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Tifft.

Earnhardt led a race-high 96 laps and won Stage 2 in his first NASCAR start since last year.

Click here for the results.

Points

With his win, Bell is the only driver who doesn’t have to worry about next weekend’s race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

He’s the first driver to lock a spot in the second round of the playoffs.

While Bell leads the standings, Hemric is second (-28 points).

The top five is completed by Justin Allgaier (-34), Chastain (-37) and Sadler (-38).

Austin Cindric (-62) and Ryan Reed (-63) are in the 11th and 12th spots.

Click here for the point standings.

Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Road America

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Justin Allgaier claimed his fourth win of the year, a career-best, after leading the final seven laps of Saturday’s Xfinity race at Road America.

Allgaier beat Matt Tifft, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Elliott Sadler.

Tifft earned the best finish of his career and Sadler earned his first top five since the July race at Daytona.

Click here for the results.

Points

With his win, Allgaier assumed the points lead. He has a five-point advantage over Christopher Bell heading into next week’s race at Darlington Raceway.

The top five is completed by Elliott Sadler (-12 points), Custer (-13) and Hemric (-33).

Click here for the standings.

Results, points after Xfinity race at Watkins Glen

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Joey Logano led 31 of 82 laps, including the final eight laps, on his way to winning the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

He beat AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Aric Almirola to earn his third Watkins Glen win in four years.

Christopher Bell placed ninth, ending his three-race win streak. It’s his first finish this year between sixth and 10th.

Click here for results.

Points

Bell has a 22-point lead over Cole Custer.

Daniel Hemric is third (-23 points), Elliott Sadler is fourth (-26) and Allgaier is fifth (-37).

Click here for the full standings.

Results, Xfinity point standings after New Hampshire

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Christopher Bell triumphed over Brad Keselowski to win Saturday’s Xfinity race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and claim his third win of the season.

The top five was rounded out by Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Tifft.

Click here for race results.

Points

Despite Christopher Bell claiming a stage win and the race victory, Daniel Hemric left the “Magic Mile” with the points leads.

Hemric has a six-point lead over Bell and a seven-point lead over Elliott Sadler, who had led the standings following 15 of the first 17 races of the season.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (-13 points) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the full standings.