Cup Series Playoff driver outlook heading into the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway

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Entering the first race of the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Kansas Speedway this weekend, none of the postseason contenders can clinch a spot in the Championship 4 round on points, making this week’s win and automatic bid to advance that much more important. 

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) enters the Round of 8 seeded first in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 4,067 points. Harvick is 45 points ahead of the Championship 4 cutoff and is looking to make the final round for the sixth time in his career (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019). Harvick has made 29 series starts at Kansas posting five poles (series-most), three wins (tied for series-most), nine top fives and 16 top 10s. He also leads several key categories in the pre-race Loop Data at Kansas with an Average Running Position of 8.906, series-best, a Driver Rating of 108.6, series-best and 5,351 Laps in the Top 15 (80.6%), series-most. He finished fourth at Kansas earlier this season.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) enters the Round of 8 seeded second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 4,054 points. Hamlin is currently 32 points ahead of the Championship 4 cutoff and is looking to make the final round for the third time in his career (2014, 2019). Hamlin has 24 series Kansas starts under his belt having posted three wins (tied for series-most), eight top fives and nine top 10s. He also ranks in the top 10 of several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 13.004, ninth-best, a Driver Rating of 90.4, ninth-best and 4,359 Laps in the Top 15 (68.4%), fifth-most. Hamlin has won the last two consecutive races at Kansas Speedway (2019 Playoffs, 2020) and enters this weekend looking to become first driver in series history to win three in a row. 

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) arrives in the Round of 8 seeded third in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 4,035 points. Keselowski is currently 13 points ahead of the Championship 4 cutoff and is looking to make the final round for the second time in his career (2017). The Michigan native has made 21 series starts at Kansas Speedway posting one pole, two wins, five top fives and 11 top 10s. He also ranks in the top 10 in several key Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 12.645, eighth-best, a Driver Rating of 92.8, seventh-best and 4,057 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), eighth-most. Keselowski finished runner-up to Denny Hamlin at Kansas Speedway earlier this season.

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) enters the Round of 8 seeded in the fourth and final transfer spot to the Championship 4 round in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 4,027 points – just five points ahead of the Championship 4 cutoff. Elliott is looking to make the final round of the Playoffs for the first time in his career. Elliott has made nine starts at Kansas Speedway posting one win, four top fives and five top 10s. He also ranks in the top 15 of several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 12.583, seventh-best, a Driver Rating of 95.2, fifth-best and 1,724 Laps in the Top 15 (71.3%), 14th-most. Elliott finished 12th in the series’ first stop at Kansas earlier this year.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) joins the Round of 8 seeded fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 4,022 points – just five points behind Chase Elliott in the final transfer spot to the Championship 4. Logano is looking to make the Playoff’s final round for the fourth time in his career (2014, 2016, 2018). Logano has made 22 series starts at Kansas putting up two poles, two wins, seven top fives and eight top 10s. He also ranks in the top 15 of several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 15.234, 13th-best, a Driver Rating of 87.4, 12th-best and 3,345 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7%), ninth-most. Logano will be looking to rebound at Kansas Speedway this weekend, after a disastrous showing earlier this season that resulted in a 35th-place finish due to an incident.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) enters the Round of 8 seeded sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 4,017 points. Truex is currently 10 points behind Chase Elliott in the final transfer spot into the Championship 4. The New Jersey native, Truex, is looking to make the Playoff’s final round for the fifth time in his career. The 2017 series champion has made 24 starts at Kansas Speedway posting two poles, two wins, nine top fives and 11 top 10s. Truex also ranks in the top five of several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 11.215, fourth-best, a Driver Rating of 100.7, fourth-best and 4,565 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), third-most. Truex led 44 laps and finished third in the Kansas Speedway race earlier this season.

Alex Bowman (No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) arrives in the Round of 8 seeded seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 4,009 points. Bowman, who recently signed a new deal to drive the Hendrick Motorsport’s No. 48 in 2021, is currently 18 points behind his teammate Chase Elliott in the fourth and final transfer spot to the Championship 4 round. Bowman is looking to make the Playoff’s final round for the first time in his career. The Arizona native, Bowman, has made 10 series starts at Kansas Speedway posting one top five and four top 10s. He also ranks in the top 25 of several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 22.106, 25th-best, a Driver Rating of 69.8, 21st-best and 1,094 Laps in the Top 15 (40.7%), 18th-most. Bowman finished in the top-10 (eighth) in the Kansas race earlier this season.

Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) enters the Round of 8 seeded in the eighth and final position in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 4,006 points. Busch is currently 21 points behind Chase Elliott in the final transfer spot to the Championship 4 round. Busch is looking to make the Playoff’s final round for the first time in his career. The 2004 series champion, Busch, has made 29 series starts at Kansas posting one pole, four top fives and 12 top 10s. He also ranks inside the top 15 in key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 14.196, 12th-best, a Driver Rating of 88.6, 11th-best and 4,301 Laps in the Top 15 (64.8%), sixth-most. Busch finished ninth in the series’ first stop at Kansas earlier this season.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Kansas sells out available seats – NASCAR announced this week all available grandstand inventory for the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, October 18 has been sold out. 

“We are certainly excited that our fans are eagerly anticipating being at the track to enjoy the intensity that Playoff racing offers,” said Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren.  “Hosting them comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility, and our staff is working diligently to provide all of our guests with a great experience.” 

Kevin Harvick looking to make history – If Kevin Harvick wins at least one race over the next four races to close out 2020, he will become the 11th different driver to win 10 or more events in a single season in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present). It will be the 17th time in the series’ Modern Era (1972-Present) the feat has been accomplished and just the second time by a Ford driver; joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott with 11 wins in 1985. The last driver to win 10 or more races in a single season was Jimmie Johnson in 2007 with 10 victories (13 years ago). NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon holds the record for the most seasons with 10 or more wins at three (13 wins in 1998, 10 wins in 1996 and 1997). NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (13 wins in a Dodge in 1975) and Jeff Gordon (13 wins in a Chevrolet in 1998) lead the series in wins in a single season during the Modern Era (1972-Present) with 13 victories each. Petty also holds the NASCAR Cup Series all-time record for the most wins in a single season with 27 victories in 1967.

Kansas native Clint Bowyer’s last go at his home track – It was announced last week that Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer would be hanging up his helmet at the conclusion of the 2020 season to pursue a venture in television joining the FOX Sports team to cover NASCAR in 2021. As a result, that makes this weekend the last time Kansas area fans will have a chance to see their local hero compete at the highest level at his home track. Bowyer has made 24 series starts at Kansas posting three top fives and eight top 10s. Though he has yet to win at his home track, his best result on the 1.5-mile speedway was a runner-up finish back in 2007.

Kyle Busch’s consecutive wins streak might be in jeopardy – With 56 NASCAR Cup Series wins to his credit, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch – a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion – is a lock to make the NASCAR Hall of Fame. But the Las Vegas native is currently in a winning slump and hasn’t visited Victory Lane since the season finale of 2019 at Homestead-Miami Speedway putting his 15-year streak of consecutive seasons with a win in the NASCAR Cup Series – the longest current active wins streak – in jeopardy. Busch is currently tied for the sixth-most seasons with a win in the series at 15 with NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip (1975-1989), Dale Earnhardt (1982-1996) and Tony Stewart (1999-2013).

Busch has made 25 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway collecting one win (2016), seven top fives and 11 top 10s. Busch finished in 11th-place at Kansas Speedway earlier this season.

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