One thing is certain about these playoffs: to win, you have to beat the No. 78 team. But, at the same time, just making it into the next round has sometimes become a major battle.
Sunday’s race at Kansas had that kind of moment when there’s less than 100 miles to go, and a huge accident takes out many contending teams in the playoffs.
What ultimately cost one team is not following the rules.
Matt Kenseth came to pit road to repair damage on his car, and the moment he came in to start service, the five-minute clock began for repairs. It is treated just like a normal pit stop, mainly in the amount of crewman allowed over the wall.
NASCAR mandates six men over the wall for any pit stop, which consists of mainly the jackman, tire carriers, tire changers, and the gas man. A seventh is only required after getting permission from NASCAR to only take the tear-off from the windshield. That is the only job they do.
If this were a normal stop, the penalty is going to the back of the line for the restart.
But, because this was under the “crash car” policy that began this year, the penalty is a lot more severe. How severe? Well, Kenseth found out while on pit road under the ensuing red flag condition. The penalty for too many men over the wall when trying to repair under the five-minute clock is disqualification. Simply put, once the cars restarted from being under red flag conditions, Kenseth was to go to the garage and park the car. He was done.
This is a moment when video from the broadcast helped, because it showed clearly that seven men were working on the car. Despite that last man going back to the wall, the fact that he was sitting on it with his legs in the stall was still enough for the penalty.
That call now means Kenseth is not into the third round of the Playoffs.
Unfortunately, that is a rule, and teams knew this going into the season. Now, that wreck cost Kenseth a spot in the playoffs, along with Jamie McMurray.
So now we’re onto the third round, and it’s down to eight drivers. The next three races will set up our championship four. Let’s get racing.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch
STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
RESULTS: 1-Truex Jr. 2-Kurt Busch 3-Blaney 4-Elliott 5-Hamlin 6-Buescher 7-Earnhardt Jr. 8-Harvick 9-Almirola 10-Kyle Busch
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Johnson 13-Keselowski 29-Stenhouse Jr. 34-McMurray 37-Kenseth 39-Larson
CAUTIONS: 10 for 49 Laps. Lap 32-35 (Competition); 48-51 (#83 Incident-T2); 7886 (Fluid On Track From #42 / Stage 1 Conclusion); 157-159 (#83 Incident-T2); 162-166 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 176-179 (#17 Incident-T3); 189-192 (#48 Incident-T4); 194-197 (#48 Incident-T3); 199-204 (#20, 1, 77, 22, 31, 14, 43, 19, 6, 24, 3, 88, 2, 10 Incident-BS [Red Flag: 10 Mins, 10 Secs.]); 237-242 (#47 Incident-T4).
LEAD CHANGES: 14 among 7 drivers. M. Truex Jr. 1-34; K. Busch 35-47; B. Keselowski 48-50; R. Blaney (P) 51-53; K. Busch 54-81; K. Harvick 82; K. Busch 83-128; J. McMurray 129; B. Keselowski 130-144; K. Busch 145-156; K. Harvick 157; D. Hamlin 158-162; K. Harvick 163-197; K. Busch 198-210; M. Truex Jr. 211-267.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 11 Mins, 57 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 125.189 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.284 Seconds
PLAYOFF STANDINGS: 1. Truex Jr, 4069; 2. Kyle Busch, -27; 3. Keselowski, -43; 4. Harvick, -52; 5. Johnson, -52; 6. Hamlin, -55; 7. Blaney, -60; 8. Elliott, -63; 9. Larson, -1833; 10. Kenseth, -1885; 11. McMurray, -1931; 12. Kahne, -1943; 13. Kurt Busch, -1945; 14. Dillon, -1947; 15. Stenhouse Jr, -1950; 16. Newman, -1962.