Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch win stages as playoff drama heats up in Phoenix


Chase Elliott won Stage 1 Sunday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix in dramatic fashion as he took advantage of a flat tire for Kevin Harvick with two laps left to go to take the lead. Harvick, who led the first 72 laps and appeared to be cruising to yet another stage win, had to come to pit road after the right-front tire went down.

Because pit road was closed, Harvick would have to start from the tail of the field to begin Stage 2. Harvick also lost a lap by coming to pit road and at the time was four points below the playoff cutline. Harvick finished in 25th place in the opening stage.

RELATED: Stage 1 results

Harvick, who has nine career wins at ISM Raceway, entered Sunday’s race three points above the Championship 4 cutline after 40 points were deducted from his total earlier in the week for a penalty following his victory at Texas. Elliott, who entered 17 points below the cutline, likely needed a win to advance.

Finish Driver Team Race Points
1 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 10
2 Ryan Blaney Team Penske 9
3 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 8
4 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing 7
5 Brad Keselowski Team Penske 6
6 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 5
7 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 4
8 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing 3
9 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 2
10 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 1

Stage 2 recap

Kyle Busch won Stage 2 as the dramatic twists and turns continued in the NASCAR Playoff elimination race at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. Playoff drivers Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer were involved in separate wrecks in Stage 2 that brought out cautions.

On the Bowyer caution, lead car Kurt Busch was penalized for passing the pace car before entering pit road. The No. 41 SHR Ford, who entered Sunday below the playoff cutline, was held on pit road for a lap, putting him one lap down at the end of the stage.

RELATED: Stage 2 results

For Logano and Bowyer, the wrecks both ended their days. Logano, who won at Martinsville, will move on to the Championship 4, but Bowyer, who entered the day 51 points below the playoff cutline, saw his dreams of advancing dashed.

Harvick, who had trouble in Stage 1, got back on the lead lap because he was the beneficiary on the Logano caution. He moved up to fourth by the end of Stage 2.

Finish Driver Team Race Points
1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 10
2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske 9
3 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing 8
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 7
5 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 6
6 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 5
7 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 4
8 Ryan Blaney Team Penske 3
9 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 2
10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 1
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