Stories to monitor during Sunday‘s running of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, which can be heard live on the Motor Racing Network starting at 1:30 p.m ET.
Sunday is the last race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12. Four drivers will be eliminated from the championship picture when the checkered flag flies on Sunday‘s race. Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer and William Byron are the four drivers below the cutline coming into Sunday‘s deciding race.
Good on the Long Run
Kyle Busch, who has finished in the top 10 in eight of the last nine races at Kansas and won in 2016, was the best driver in final practice in the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 consecutive lap averages. Twenty drivers completed 15 consecutive laps with Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounding out the top five.
Hendrick in Danger
Three of those four drivers fighting for the playoff lives are from Hendrick Motorsports as Bowman, Elliott and Byron try to keep the organization‘s hopes for another title alive. Bowman ran second in the first Kansas race of the season Mother‘s Day weekend while Elliott is the defending Hollywood Casino 400 winner so there is optimism inside the team for success on Sunday. Read More
Bowyer Home Drought
Kansas native Bowyer has yet to win at his home track and if the Stewart-Haas Racing driver can pull it off on Sunday it may be the biggest victory of his Cup career. Bowyer more than likely needs to find Victory Lane in order to advance but he‘ll have work to do as he carries an average finish of 18.5 over the last 10 Kansas races into the weekend. Read More
Kevin Harvick will have to come from the rear of the field after experiencing issues during pre-qualifying inspection. Harvick‘s car failed three times and did not make a qualifying attempt. He‘ll start 40th in Sunday‘s race. He is sixth in the playoff standings. Read More
There are several candidates outside the Playoff Grid of the 12 remaining drivers looking to steal the spotlight. Ryan Newman, who came up just .007-seconds short of winning last week at Talladega when he was edged at Talladega, is hoping to erase that bitter memory on Sunday with his first win of the season. Jimmie Johnson was sixth at Kansas in the spring and has been running well in recent weeks. Erik Jones is another driver to keep an eye on after his strong third-place Kansas effort in May.
The May Kansas race was heralded as maybe the best example to date of the intention to generate better competition with this year‘s new rules package. The Mother‘s Day Eve affair featured three and four wide racing, intensity and nearly non-stop action as drivers were able to navigate their way around the 1.5-mile track in nearly ideal conditions. Whether Sunday‘s race, which will come under predicted sunny skies unlike the May night race, produces the same kind of competition is a big question.