Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 (2:30 p.m ET, NBC, MRN) Race Preview

Who Will Win Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400

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Chase Elliott 

Three top four finishes in his last five Kansas starts to go along with his last three playoff race finishes in the Sunflower state being 4th, 1st and 2nd respectively makes Elliott a prime candidate for a win on Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr. 

He swept both races in 2017. He was second and fifth respectively in 2018. Truex, was sixth in last year’s playoff race to go along with third back in July.

Denny Hamlin 

Hamlin, has four top five finishes in his last six Kansas starts including two straight victories.

Kyle Busch 

He’s had nine top 10 finishes in his last 11 Kansas starts, seven of those nine being in the top five even. His only problem is, he’s only led five laps in his last five Kansas starts.

Brad Keselowski 

Worth something here. He has two top two finishes in his last three Kansas starts including a runner-up this past July.

Sleepers

Alex Bowman

He has three top 10 finishes in his last four Kansas starts. His worst finish in that time frame is 11th.

Kurt Busch

He has three straight top 10 finishes at Kansas and five in his last six tries overall. With his two wins with Ganassi being on like tracks (Kentucky, Las Vegas), Busch can steal a spot to Phoenix with a win on Sunday afternoon.

Hollywood Casino 400 Race Preview

The Round of 8 will begin Sunday afternoon at the Kansas Speedway. For the first time ever, the Fall race on the 1.5-mile track moves to a third round event as it’s been in the Round of 12 in the past. Now, Kansas moves into a prime spot on the schedule to likely advance a driver to the Championship 4 as a result.

Eight drivers enter and it’s likely one of them will win. But, who?

Kevin Harvick hasn’t been at his best on tracks like Kansas this year. He’s not been good at them lately anyways. Harvick, was fourth back in May but that’s his only top five in his last four Kansas starts. He said prior to Vegas that they’ve struggled to get a handle on these circuits and it further proved that.

Joey Logano has also struggled in Kansas. He’s only had one top five and just two top 10 efforts in his last seven Kansas starts. He was 15th and 17th respectively last year and 35th back in July.

The Hendrick cars are the sleepers. Chase Elliott’s last three fall race finishes on the track are 4th, 1st and 2nd respectively. Alex Bowman also has five top 11 finishes in six tries with HMS at Kansas. Kurt Busch is also a sleeper. He won on a similar track in Vegas and has five top 10 finishes in his last six Kansas starts.

Then you have the Joe Gibbs Racing tandem of Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. They’ve won four of the last seven races at Kansas with Hamlin winning the last two. Truex, was sixth and third respectively in those two races himself. They have to enter as the favorites, but Elliott, Bowman and Busch may have something to say about it.

Brad Keselowski is the outlier here. He’s been feast or famine at Kansas. He won the spring race in 2019 and was runner-up this past July. He has three top six finishes in his last four tries too. But, he’s also been 10th or worse in five of the last nine as well.

Betting The Kansas Speedway

Toyota has won four of the last seven Kansas races including two straight. All were by two different drivers and both are still alive in the playoffs.

Also, the eventual race winner scored stage points in every first stage under the stage era and finished in the top five in five of the seven races in Stage 2. The odd thing is, just once has the eventual race winner at Kansas actually won a stage in that race too.

Key Stat

Four of the last seven Kansas winners have come from the top four of the starting lineup. Three of the last four though have come from 10th on back.

1.5-Mile Parity Back

The top drivers on 1.5-mile tracks used to be a select, yet elite small group. If you wanted to win on the intermediate race tracks at NASCAR’s top level, you were going to have to go through Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson to do so. Now, they have some company up front.

Out of the last 74 races on 1.5-mile tracks, 57 of them have been won by a handful of drivers. Martin Truex Jr. (12) leads them but Kevin Harvick (11), Brad Keselowski (11) Jimmie Johnson (10),  Kyle Busch (8) and Joey Logano (7) have been at their best on intermediate race tracks too.

With Sunday’s race the Kansas Speedway being a 1.5-mile track, we’ve seen 11 different winners in the last 15 races on intermediates.

It all started well over a year ago, on June 30 at the Chicagoland Speedway to be exact, with Alex Bowman. Then, Kentucky Speedway (Kurt Busch), Las Vegas in the Fall (Martin Truex Jr), Kansas (Denny Hamlin), Texas (Kevin Harvick) and Homestead (Kyle Busch) to close out the season. This year, we’ve had Las Vegas (Joey Logano), Charlotte (Brad Keselowski/Chase Elliott), Atlanta (Harvick), Homestead (Denny Hamlin), Kentucky (Cole Custer), Texas (Austin Dillon), Kansas (Brad Keselowski) and Las Vegas 2 (Kurt Busch) following suit.

We’re running out of names to keep this going? All that’s left on the big teams are William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer or Aric Almirola.

Kurt Busch became the eighth different winner in nine races on 1.5-mile tracks this season to kick start the Round of 12.

Truex meanwhile, hasn’t won on a 1.5-mile track all season which is bizarre. He says the reason for the parity now is all due to how these cars race these days.

“I think it’s mostly the cars and the situations to where it seems we always have a late restart,” Truex said. “You look at the way that these cars drive and the way on restarts, we don’t have a lot of horsepower. You can’t get away from each other. You’re kind of at the mercy of the drag and the horsepower and we all end up in a big wad for 2-3 laps. That’s kind of where we’ve seen the different winners come from and it’s come at a pretty consistent basis.”

He’s right too. Busch benefitted from a late race caution which shook up the field in Las Vegas. It can happen again this weekend as well.

Only Busch, Harvick, Hamlin and Keselowski have won multiple times on 1.5-mile tracks during this time frame.

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. 

NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the series record for the most consecutive seasons with a victory at 18 from 1960 to 1977. 

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