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October 21, 2018

Who’s in, who’s out of playoffs following Kansas

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs field was whittled from 12 drivers to eight on Sunday following the playoff race at Kansas Speedway, where Chase Elliott won.

Kansas was the site of the third and final race in the Round of 12. The four drivers lowest in the standings were eliminated from the postseason and the ability to compete for a championship in Miami.

RELATED: Full race results

The following drivers advanced to the Round of 8, which will play out at Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway at Phoenix. This list will be updated with the official standings and points once confirmed by NASCAR.

1. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kurt Busch
6. Joey Logano
7. Chase Elliott
8. Aric Almirola

ELIMINATED: The four drivers eliminated from the postseason after Kansas were: Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman.

MORE: Memorable weekend pics

SETTING THE STAGE: With Brad Keselowski (-18) and Ryan Blaney (-22) facing big deficits entering the race, stage points were crucial. Blaney finished third in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2, good for 17 points to gain on the cutline. But his incredible run soured late, with Blaney scraping the wall fighting for position. That contact dropped him out of the top five and below the cutline in a frenetic final stage, and he could not recover.

TIRE TROUBLE: A poor-handling race car was problem No. 1 for Kurt Busch. An uncontrolled tire violation late in Stage 2 was the second problem, and a much bigger one at that. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was scored 23rd and one lap down following the penalty. He was below the cutline when he emerged after starting the day 30 points above it, but rallied in the final stage to just be clear of Blaney for the final transfer spot.

SO CLOSE!: The weekend couldn’t have started any worse for Kyle Larson. Larson damaged his car badly in Friday’s practice, showed no speed in qualifying and then learned his team’s L1-level penalty — which included a 10-point hit to his driver point total — was upheld on appeal. Moving to a backup car forced Larson to the rear of the field, already facing a likely must-win situation to advance.

And Larson nearly pulled it off. He hugged the top line like only Larson can do, churning through the field late but falling just short. He finished third.