Brad Keselowski dominated Saturday night at Richmond Raceway, leading 192 laps in the second playoff race and advancing into the next round.
On a night when the only caution flags were scheduled by NASCAR, leading to plenty of green-flag pit stops that jumbled the leaderboard, Keselowski kept rising to the top.
Kevin Harvick, the title favorite, won last week’s opener to earn the automatic berth into the second round. Hamlin, derailed at his home track of Richmond by a speeding penalty, finished 12th but still advanced into the next round based on points.
Keselowski also gave Team Penske a sweep of the day – Will Power won for the IndyCar arm of the organization earlier Saturday.
Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Keselowski are the only drivers locked into the next round of the playoffs. Hamlin has six wins, but just ne in the last nine races, leading to frustration.
Headed into next Saturday night’s elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney are below the cutoff line.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second at Richmond, followed by Keselowski teammate Joey Logano and Austin Dillon, who has opened the playoffs with back-to-back top-five finishes for the first time in his career. Harvick finished seventh.