CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson cemented their spots in the second round of the playoffs by finishing second and third, respectively, in the final race of the Round of 16.
The field is now trimmed to 12 as four drivers were eliminated following the Dover race. Kasey Kahne was one of them.
He finished 14th at Dover and it was not enough to advance him to the second round.
“Just track position was one of the biggest challenges for us,” he said. “Had a pretty decent car, but it was a bit of a struggle to pass guys that were running the same speed, so we just kind of ran in that spot and tried to use some strategy to get up. It seemed to really work, but then on the long end of it, it didn’t work out. (No. 5 team crew chief) Darian (Grubb) did a good job.
“The guys worked hard and that was the best we could do.”
While Kahne’s postseason run has come to a close, Elliott and Johnson were among the 12 drivers to advance and have their points reset to 3,000.
They then had any playoff points accumulated tacked on to their total.
That sets up Johnson as the fifth seed entering the second round with 3,017 points.
He earned the 17 playoff points due to three race wins, a stage win and his finish in the regular-season standings.
Elliott is seeded 10th with 3,006 points.
His playoff points came thanks to two stage wins and his position in the final regular-season standings. He did not receive an additional playoff point for his stage win at Chicagoland Speedway due to a post-race infraction.
“I think when we unloaded on Friday, we realized how much speed all of our Hendrick Motorsports cars had,” Johnson said of the organization’s performance at Dover, which included three top-10 finishes. “As we look back over the summer, it just seems like tracks with more banking, our combination works well, and we were able to exploit that this weekend.”
The second round of the playoffs begins this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Charlotte is a great track for us, as well, and typically when we run well at Dover, it carries over to Charlotte,” Johnson said. “So, we're optimistic about next week, too.”