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Bubba Wallace Continues Playoff Chaos With Win at Kansas

Denny Hamlin managed to trim into Bubba Wallace’s lead down the stretch, but the co-owner with Michael Jordan of the No. 45 car for 23XI Racing ultimately ran out of time. Wallace took the checkered flag for his second NASCAR Cup Series victory, and made it back-to-back weeks that a non-playoff driver won a postseason race.


Wallace got around playoff contender Alex Bowman for the lead with 67 laps to go, then built a 2-second cushion over a parade of drivers in the title hunt, each trying to earn the win that would ensure their spot in the round of eight.


Hamlin wound up at the front of it, finishing second to climb into third in the playoff standings.


Wallace, who became the 18th different driver to reach victory lane this season, also won during last year’s playoffs at Talladega, when he was likewise out of the title picture. And his victory Sunday came after Erik Jones, who also missed out on the postseason this year, won a chaotic race a week ago at Darlington.


Kurt Busch stepped out of the ride while dealing with a concussion. He was quick to tweet his congratulations.


Bell finished third and Bowman fourth with playoff outsider Martin Truex Jr. in fifth. William Byron, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez — all firmly in the playoff hunt — rounded out the top 10.


Bell was the only driver to clinch a spot in the next round on points. The other 11 are up for grabs heading to Bristol.


Kevin Harvick spent the week ruing an inferno that ruined his playoff opener, and led to renewed discussions of safety in the Next Gen car. But it was the aerodynamics of the car that ruined Sunday and left his playoff hopes in peril.


The trouble began when Harvick was caught four-wide shortly after a competition caution. Ross Chastain drifted in front of him, took the air off Harvick’s nose and made him loose. The three-time Kansas winner touched the wall out of Turn 4, then hit hard again across the start-finish line, leaving him with heavy damage to the right side.


Tyler Reddick’s brilliant weekend, which included his first pole on an oval, also ended in the first stage when his right rear tire went down. That sent his No. 8 sliding into the wall, breaking the upper control arm in the right front.


Stage 2 was just as frustrating to playoff hopefuls. Many had problems on pit road, including Kyle Busch, who not only had a penalty for an uncontrolled tire but later spun into the grass and went a lap down. Busch finished 26th and fell below the playoff cut line along with Harvick, Chase Briscoe and Austin Dillon.


Busch trails Suarez by six points and Reddick and Austin Cindric by two heading to Bristol. Dillon is another point back.


The final race in the round is Saturday night on the concrete at Bristol, where Busch won the Cup race on dirt in April.

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