Four teams were eliminated after completion of the Hollywood Casino 400 last Sunday, and there were a couple of surprises. Kyle Larson, ranked third going into the race, had an engine blow up at the 73-lap mark. He could not overcome his 37th-place finish, showing no lead is comfortable. After four seasons in Cup racing, this is the first time Larson did not finish a race because of a blown engine.
The other surprise was the elimination of Matt Kenseth, who had to overcome many obstacles in order to advance into the Round of 8, but was eliminated because of rules. Involved in a crash, Kenseth came to the pits for repairs and was put under the 5-minute rule.
After seven crewmen went over the wall, NASCAR informed the team it had to park the car for rules violations. The rule states that while under the 5-minute clock, only six crewmen can go over the wall to make repairs. A 7th man can go over the wall to service the driver.
“I don’t know what any of the rules are,” Kenseth said. “It seems like we have a lot of stuff that gets changed so often, I honestly can’t keep up.”
This is not a new rule and the crew chief has got to know the rules.
Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both had to win the race but early problems put them both out of playoff contention.
Martin Truex Jr. won the Hollywood Casino 400, but not in the dominating way he has won in the past. Overcoming a lap-36 restart violation and a loose wheel on lap 92, Truex bounced back to win for the seventh time in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Of his seven wins this year, Truex won six of them on “cookie cutter” 1.5-mile tracks.
The three tracks in the Round of 8 are Martinsville (half mile), Texas (1.5 mile), and Phoenix (1 mile). Truex has finished well on all three tracks earlier this year and with his huge lead in points, should advance to the Championship Round.
Kyle Busch is seeded second going into the Round of 8 after finishing 10th last Sunday. Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Jimmy Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, and Chase Elliott round out the field for the Round of 8.
Qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 also determined the order for pit stall selections in Martinsville. This gives Truex, who won the pole in Kansas, another huge advantage for Martinsville, as if he really needed it.