Joey Logano (22) and Kevin Harvick (4) lead the pack at the start of a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Sunday, Oct 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Chase Elliott wins for 2nd time in 3 NASCAR playoff races

October 21, 2018 - 5:43 pm

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Chase Elliott won at Kansas Speedway on Sunday for his second victory in three races, cementing himself as a championship threat.

Elliott needed 98 career starts before he figured out how to close out a win. The breakthrough victory 11 events ago sparked his performance in NASCAR's playoffs and Elliott bookended this second round with wins.

His victory three races ago at Dover ensured Elliott a spot in the round of eight, and the Kansas victory showed he just might contend for the title.

The playoff field was trimmed to eight and those who didn't advance out of Kansas were Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski, both winners in the first round of the playoffs, Kyle Larson and Elliott teammate Alex Bowman.

Larson needed to win to make it into the third round and was frantically chasing Elliott in the closing laps but settled for third. He was docked 10 points by NASCAR earlier this week for an infraction at Talladega, his team lost two appeals of the penalty and he was in a must-win situation at Kansas.

Advancing into the third round of the playoffs were Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Joey Logano.

Stewart-Haas Racing has all four of its cars in the round of eight and Ford has five of the slots. Toyota has two entrants in Kyle Busch and defending series champion Truex, while Elliott is the only representative from Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports.

"This is a huge time of year. We've got a lot of work to do and a long ways to go," Elliott said.

More from Kansas Speedway:

ENGINE ISSUES: William Byron was knocked out of the race with an engine failure 55 laps into the race. A day earlier, Jamie McMurray had an engine failure during practice. Both engines are built by Hendrick Motorsports and neither driver is in the playoffs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., a former Hendrick Motorsports driver, opined in the NBC Sports broadcast booth what many wondered: The Hendrick engine department may have used Byron and McMurray's motors for research and development purposes.

UP NEXT: The opening race of the third round of the playoffs, at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner, while Clint Bowyer won at Martinsville earlier this year.

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