Monday, 27 January 2020

Ten drivers to watch in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Hollywood Casino 400 – Kansas City Star

Ten drivers to watch in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Hollywood Casino 400 – Kansas City Star
02 Nov

Kyle Larson (Dover) and Ryan Blaney (Talladega) have advanced in the NASCAR playoffs by virtue of their wins the past two weeks, and 10 drivers are vying at Kansas Speedway to claim one of the six remaining spots in the Round of 8.

Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota

Plus 56 points

Hamlin, generally acknowledged as the best active driver not to have won a Cup championship, has won four races this season, including the Daytona 500. Hamlin, 38, won the 2012 spring race at Kansas Speedway and has a 12.6 average finish in his last five starts at the track.

Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Toyota

Plus 48 points

Truex, 39, is the only driver to sweep both Kansas races when he did so en route to winning the 2017 Cup championship. Truex, who has won a series-most six races this season, has averaged a 6.6 finish in his last five starts at Kansas and has led 726 laps in 22 starts.

Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota

Plus 41 points

Busch, the 2015 Cup champion, won the spring race at Kansas in 2016 and owns a track-record seven victories at Kansas Speedway: one Cup, four Xfinity and two trucks events. Busch, 34, opened the season with a record-tying 11 straight Top 10 finishes that ended with a 30th at Kansas in the spring. He has won four races this season, but none since June 2 at Pocono.

Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford

Plus 36 points

Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion, won Kansas races in 2013, ‘16 and ‘18, and is one of three three-time winners, along with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Harvick, 43, also has a series-high five poles, three second-place finishes, eight top-threes, and has led the most laps, 855, in his 27 career starts at Kansas. Harvick has a series best 8.5 average finish at Kansas.

Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford

Plus 20 points

Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion, has won three races this season, including the May race at Kansas Speedway. Keselowski, 35, also won the inaugural spring race at the track in 2011 and has an average finish of 8.4 in 19 starts. Keselowski, 35, has an average finish of 12.8 in 18 starts at Kansas. He also has won at Atlanta and Martinsville this season.

Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford

Plus 18 points

Logano, the reigning Cup champion, won the fall races at Kansas in 2014 and ’15. Logano, 29, has started from the pole twice, including last fall when his eighth-place finish enabled him to advance to the Round of 8. Logano has won at Las Vegas and Michigan this season, and sitting in sixth place, has little margin for error on Sunday.

Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet

Minus 18 points

Bowman, 26, finished second at Kansas in May, his third top-10 finish in his last four races at Kansas, including his ninth last fall. Bowman earned his first career win in June at Chicago, a sister track of Kansas Speedway. Bowman was involved in a crash while leading Talladega on Monday but has three top-10 finishes in the five playoff races, including a runner-up finish at the Charlotte Roval.

Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet

Minus 22 points

Elliott, 23, needs to repeat his winning effort at Kansas Speedway last fall when his win catapulted him to the Round of 8. Elliott finds himself in a precarious position because a blown engine at Dover dropped him to a 38th-place finish. Elliott, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, which owns seven Kansas wins, has four top-10 and three top-five finishes in seven starts at Kansas and has led a combined 89 laps in the last two races.

Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Toyota

Minus 24 points

Bowyer, of Emporia, faces a must-win situation for his victory of the season and first win ever at his home track. Bowyer, 40, has three top-10s in five playoff races this season. He started on the outside pole at Kansas in the spring, led led 12 laps and finished fifth — one of three top fives and seven top 10s in 22 career starts at Kansas. He was 13th in last fall’s playoff race.

William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet

Minus 27 points

Byron, 21, will have to call on some of Hendrick’s magic to advance in his first playoff experience. Byron, the 2017 Xfinity champion, is still looking for his first Cup victory. He won a trucks race at Kansas as a teenager in 2016, but his best performance in three Cup starts at Kansas was 20th last May, when he led four laps.

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