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Kansas Speedway Marks the Midway Point of NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16

Switching gears and mashing the gas has this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs off to a feverish start and for the first-time in series history not one of the 16 Playoff drivers are locked into the Round of 12 following the postseason opener. That’s because Petty GMS and driver Erik Jones, a non-Playoff competitor this season, snatched the victory at Darlington Raceway last weekend, leaving the Playoff standings shaken-up like never before.

NASCAR Cup Series

  • Next Race: Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook
  • The Place: Kansas Speedway
  • The Date: Sunday, September 11
  • The Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • The Purse: $8,338,881
  • TV: USA, 2 p.m. ET
  • Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
  • Distance: 400.5 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),
  • Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 165), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

Now the Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook on Sunday, September 11 at 3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, the second of three races in the Playoffs’ Round of 16.

The 2022 season marks the first-time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ second race has been hosted by Kansas Speedway. Kansas is the fourth different track in NASCAR Cup Series history to host the second race of the Playoffs; joining Dover Motor Speedway (2004-2010), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2011–2017) and Richmond Raceway (2018-2021).

A total of 13 different drivers have won the second race of the Playoffs, led by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson with three wins (2005, 2009, 2010); followed by Kyle Busch (2017, 2018), Matt Kenseth (2013, 2015) and Martin Truex Jr. (2019, 2021) with two victories each.

Second Race Of The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Race Winners (2004-2021)
DateTrackPlayoff Race Winners
Saturday, September 11, 2021RichmondMartin Truex Jr
Saturday, September 12, 2020RichmondBrad Keselowski
Saturday, September 21, 2019RichmondMartin Truex Jr
Saturday, September 22, 2018RichmondKyle Busch
Sunday, September 24, 2017LoudonKyle Busch
Sunday, September 25, 2016LoudonKevin Harvick
Sunday, September 27, 2015LoudonMatt Kenseth
Sunday, September 21, 2014LoudonJoey Logano
Sunday, September 22, 2013LoudonMatt Kenseth
Sunday, September 23, 2012LoudonDenny Hamlin
Sunday, September 25, 2011LoudonTony Stewart
Sunday, September 26, 2010DoverJimmie Johnson
Sunday, September 27, 2009DoverJimmie Johnson
Sunday, September 21, 2008DoverGreg Biffle
Sunday, September 23, 2007DoverCarl Edwards
Sunday, September 24, 2006DoverJeff Burton
Sunday, September 25, 2005DoverJimmie Johnson
Sunday, September 26, 2004DoverRyan Newman

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2004, Kansas Speedway has participated in the postseason each year, and this season will mark the seventh different positions on the Playoff schedule the track has occupied:

  1. From 2004, 2005, 2011, 2013 and 2014 Kansas Speedway hosted the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
  2. From 2006-2010 Kansas Speedway hosted the third race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
  3. From 2015-2016 Kansas hosted the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
  4. Then in 2012, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Kansas Speedway hosted the sixth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
  5. In 2020, Kansas Speedway hosted the seventh race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
  6. In 2021, Kansas Speedway hosted the eighth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
  7. This season, Kansas Speedway will host the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

A total of 13 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Kansas Speedway:

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Race Winners – Kansas Speedway
DateTrackRace WinnersRace No.
Sunday, October 10, 2004KansasJoe Nemechek30
Sunday, October 9, 2005KansasMark Martin30
Sunday, October 1, 2006KansasTony Stewart29
Sunday, September 30, 2007KansasGreg Biffle29
Sunday, September 28, 2008KansasJimmie Johnson29
Sunday, October 4, 2009KansasTony Stewart29
Sunday, October 3, 2010KansasGreg Biffle29
Sunday, October 9, 2011KansasJimmie Johnson30
Sunday, October 21, 2012KansasMatt Kenseth32
Sunday, October 6, 2013KansasKevin Harvick30
Sunday, October 5, 2014KansasJoey Logano30
Sunday, October 18, 2015KansasJoey Logano31
Sunday, October 16, 2016KansasKevin Harvick31
Sunday, October 22, 2017KansasMartin Truex Jr32
Sunday, October 21, 2018KansasChase Elliott32
Sunday, October 20, 2019KansasDenny Hamlin32
Sunday, October 18, 2020KansasJoey Logano33
Sunday, October 24, 2021KansasKyle Larson34

Team Penske’s Joey Logano leads the NASCAR Cup Series in Playoff wins at Kansas Speedway with three postseason victories (2014, 2015, 2020); followed by four other drivers with multiple Kanas Playoff wins: Tony Stewart (2006, 2009), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2011), Greg Biffle (2007, 2010) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (2013, 2016). The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson, is the most recent Playoff race winner at Kansas Speedway.

Winning the second the race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has been a springboard for several competitors throughout the years. When Dover Motor Speedway hosted the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004-2010), twice the winning driver went on to win the series title that same season – Jimmie Johnson (2009 and 2010). When New Hampshire Motor Speedway moved to the second race in the Playoffs (2011-2017), only one driver won the event and went on to win the title that same year – Tony Stewart (2011). Stewart won five races in the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (a series-record tied with Kyle Larson, 2021). None of the Playoff race winners at Richmond Raceway (2018-2021) went on to win the title in the same season.

Twice the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Kansas Speedway has gone on to win the title that same season. In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won the Kansas Speedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race from the pole, leading 124 laps, and then went on to win his third consecutive series title later that season. Kansas was the third race of the Playoffs in 2008. The Kansas win was the first of three Playoff wins for Johnson en route to the 2008 title. Then in 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won the Kansas Speedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race from the pole, leading 91 laps, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title later that season. Kansas was the sixth race of the Playoffs in 2017. The Kansas win was the second of four Playoff victories for Truex en route to the championship in 2017.

A non-Playoff driver has never won the second race on the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs schedule, but what is interesting is three non-Playoff drivers have won a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Kansas Speedway, which makes us bode the question, will it happen again?

In 2004, Joe Nemechek became the first non-Playoff driver to win the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Kansas Speedway. He was ranked 21st in the point standings at the time of the win. In 2006, NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Kansas Speedway and was ranked 11th in point standings at the time of the victory – the first spot outside the postseason. In 2007, Greg Biffle won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Kansas Speedway and was ranked 14th in points at the time of the win.

The worst finish in a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Kansas Speedway by a driver that went on to win the championship later that same season was 15th by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in 2011.

The worst finish by a driver in the second race on NASCAR Cup Playoffs schedule that went on to win the title that same season was:

  • At Dover Motor Speedway (2004-2010) – the 2005 series champion Tony Stewart finished 18th.
  • At New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2011-2017) – the 2015 series champion Kyle Busch finished 37th.
  • At Richmond Raceway (2018-2021) – the 2018 series champion Joey Logano finished 14th.
  • Last season’s champion, Kyle Larson, finished sixth at Richmond Raceway, the second race of the 2021 Playoff schedule, and went on to win the title that same season. Larson’s 2021 Playoff run tied NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart’s 2011 run for the most wins (five) during a Playoffs’ single season 10 races.

 The Rundown: NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway

A staple in the NASCAR Cup Series postseason since the inception of the Playoffs in 2004, Kansas Speedway has provided some great side-by-side racing and this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook on Sunday, September 11 at 3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, shouldn’t disappoint.

Groundbreaking for Kansas Speedway was held on May 25, 1999, and the official opening of the 1.5-mile paved four-turn track was in 2001 with the first events being an ARCA Menards Series race and an ARCA Menards Series West race on the same day – June 2. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway was on September 30, 2001, and the race was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon.

For the most part Kansas Speedway has remained unchanged since it was built, but did undergo a repave during the 2012 season, between the April and October events, adding variable banking in the corners (17 to 20 degrees).

In total there have been 33 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway, one event from 2001 – 2010 and two races per year since 2011. The 33 Cup races have produced 17 different pole winners and 17 different race winners.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Kansas Speedway with five poles (fall 2013, 2014 sweep, spring 2018 and spring 2019). Six of the 17 NASCAR Cup Series Kansas Speedway pole winners are active this weekend.

Active Kansas Pole WinnersPolesSeasons
Kevin Harvick52013, ’14 sweep, ’18, ’19
Martin Truex Jr22016, ’17
Joey Logano22015, ’18
Christopher Bell12022
Ryan Blaney12017
Brad Keselowski12015

Of the 17 different NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Kansas Speedway, 11 have won multiple races at the 1.5-mile track. Five drivers are tied for the lead in wins in the NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway with three victories each: Jeff Gordon (2001, 2002, 2014), Kevin Harvick (2013, 2016, 2018), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2011, 2015), Denny Hamlin (2012, 2019, 2020), Joey Logano (2014, 2015, 2020). Eight of the 17 NASCAR Cup Series Kansas Speedway winners are active this weekend.

Active Kansas Race WinnersWinsSeasons
Denny Hamlin32020, 2019, 2012
Joey Logano32020, 2015, 2014
Kevin Harvick32018, 2016, 2013
Brad Keselowski22019, 2011
Kyle Busch22021, 2016
Martin Truex Jr22017 sweep
Kyle Larson12021
Chase Elliott12018

 23XI Racing’s driver Kurt Busch is the most recent winner at Kanas Speedway grabbing the victory back in the No. 45 Toyota back in May, but Busch has since sustained an injury that has currently sidelined him. In his stead this weekend at Kansas, his 23XI Racing teammate Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 45 car and NASCAR Xfinity Series standout Ty Gibbs will pilot the No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota.

This weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series on-track activity will begin with practice (Sept. 10 at 11:05 a.m. ET) followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 11:50 a.m. ET. Qualifying will be streamed on the NBC Sports App starting at noon ET.

Clinch Scenarios: Kansas Speedway

Petty GMS driver Erik Jones threw a wrench in the hopes of the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field of taking home the Playoff opener win last weekend at Darlington Raceway, when the Michigan native grabbed his first win of 2022. As a result, for the first-time since the inception of the elimination format in 2014, none of the Playoff drivers has clinched a spot in the Round of 12 coming out of the postseason opener.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 12th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Joey Logano, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman or Kyle Busch.

  • Joey Logano: Could only clinch with help
  • William Byron: Could only clinch with help
  • Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help
  • Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help
  • Tyler Reddick: Could only clinch with help
  • Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help
  • Kyle Larson: Could only clinch with help
  • Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help
  • Chase Elliott: Could only clinch with help
  • Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Daniel Suárez or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 11th winless driver in the standings.

  • Joey Logano: Could only clinch with help
  • William Byron: Could only clinch with help
  • Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help
  • Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help
  • Tyler Reddick: Could only clinch with help
  • Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help
  • Kyle Larson: Could only clinch with help
  • Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help
  • Chase Elliott: Could only clinch with help
  • Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Joey Logano, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick

Playoff Bubble: Outside Looking In After One Race

With just two races to go in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 16, tensions are rising as none of the 16-drivers in the postseason have locked themselves into the next round.

Currently Team Penske’s Joey Logano holds the top spot in the Playoff standings after Regular Season Champion and No. 1 seed coming into Darlington Raceway, Chase Elliott, was in an early-race incident dropping him to ninth in the postseason points. Logano is 38 points up on the Round of 12 cutoff, while Elliott is only 14 points above the cutline.

Four drivers are outside the Round of 12 cutoff and chasing Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez in the 12th and final transfer position to the next round on points, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric in 13th (-2 points), Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon in 14th (-4) and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Chase Briscoe in 15th (-10) and veteran Kevin Harvick in 16th (-13).

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Outlook Following Darlington Raceway (Playoff Race #1)

RankPlayoff DriversPointsRace WinsStage WinsPlayoff PtsPts From Cutoff
1Joey Logano2,065252538
2William Byron2,059241532
3Denny Hamlin2,057231330
4Christopher Bell2,055121128
5Tyler Reddick2,050221223
6Ryan Blaney2,047051320
7Kyle Larson2,044231917
8Ross Chastain2,042252015
9Chase Elliott2,041454014
10Alex Bowman2,03711610
11Kyle Busch2,03513118
12Daniel Suarez2,0291272
13Austin Cindric2,027116-2
14Austin Dillon2,025105-4
15Chase Briscoe2,019149-10
16Kevin Harvick2,0162012-13

Of the four drivers below the Round of 12 cutline, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has the biggest hill to climb. But Kansas Speedway is one of the 10 tracks that make up the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and of Harvick’s 60 career Cup Series victories, 23 have come at the remaining playoff venues. Three of those wins have been at Kansas, while Harvick also has three wins apiece at Bristol and Texas. He has two wins at Las Vegas and one win each at Talladega, Homestead-Miami and Martinsville. The remaining nine wins were earned at Phoenix Raceway, home to the NASCAR Championship Race. The only Playoffs track where Harvick doesn’t have a win is the Charlotte ROVAL.

Top 16 Playoff Driver’s Cup Series Career Performances at Kansas Speedway

RankDriverRacesPolesWinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFsAverage FinishDriver Rating 
1Joey Logano2623810417.187.7
2William Byron90015216.185.1
3Denny Hamlin28031011213.792.0
4Christopher Bell51013014.887.7
5Tyler Reddick60002017.785.6
6Ryan Blaney151036216.995.0
7Kyle Larson150157214.6101.1
8Ross Chastain70001122.459.2
9Chase Elliott130168011.297.9
10Alex Bowman140026116.975.5
11Kyle Busch29021014415.294.0
12Daniel Suárez110001222.364.0
13Austin Cindric20000016.575.7
14Austin Dillon180005116.373.8
15Chase Briscoe30000021.055.9
16Kevin Harvick3353121919.1108.5

At Kansas this weekend, six of the 16-driver Playoff field are former winners at the 1.5-mile track, including Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Lee Greenwood to perform ‘God Bless The USA’ at Kansas –  As a tribute to our nation’s military and first responders on a solemn day of remembrance, Lee Greenwood will sing his patriotic hit “God Bless The USA” prior to the start of the Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook on Sunday, Sept. 11 at Kansas Speedway.

Greenwood has made appearances at various NASCAR events throughout the years to perform the chart-topping song, a classic at sporting events and patriotic celebrations across the country. “God Bless the USA” earned two Grammy nominations and has been in the top five on the country singles charts three times (1991, 2001, and 2003), the only song in any genre to achieve that feat.

“To have Lee Greenwood perform such an iconic song at Kansas Speedway on such an important day is truly momentous,” said Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren. “‘God Bless The USA’ always fills me with great pride and emotion, and it really has the power to bring people together. I’m looking forward to hearing it live.”

An international country music star, Greenwood has earned multiple CMA and ACM awards, as well as a Grammy for Top Male Vocal Performance on his song “I.O.U.” With seven No. 1 songs and 25 charted singles, Greenwood’s impressive discography spans over four decades. He previously served on the National Endowment of the Arts Council under three different US presidents and has performed at some of the country’s greatest venues, now adding Kansas Speedway to that list.

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

Erik Jones vs. Daniel Suarez (Fan Vote) – What a Sunday it was for both of these drivers, as Erik Jones became a two-time winner of the Cook Out Southern 500 in the first race of the Playoffs at Darlington. With multiple Playoff drivers having car troubles in the last 50 laps, Jones hung around and used a late restart to hold off Denny Hamlin and Tyler Reddick to win his first race of the 2022 season. Daniel Suárez had an uphill battle all day after having to do a pass-through penalty at the start of the race for failing pre-race tech three times. A lap down to start the race, Suárez got his lap back after the caution came out for rain on Lap 6. Suárez worked his way all to the front and was running comfortably in the top 10 before a speeding penalty on pit road put him another lap down. Even though he wound up finishing 18th, he attained 2 points in Stage 2 and showed that he had a ton of speed in the No. 99 car. Looking ahead to Kanas, Jones has two top fives in his last seven races here and owns a 16-point advantage over Suárez in driver rating at the 1.5-mile track.

Kyle Busch vs. Denny Hamlin – Kyle Busch looked like he had the best car all day at Darlington last weekend. It looked like the 18 car was going to find his way to Victory Lane for the first time since Bristol, but an engine issue caused his car to smoke under caution while running first and ended his race with 22 laps to go. His JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin also had a great car all day. He was in contention all race, running in the top five most of the day. He gave it his best shot at running Erik Jones down in the final 20 laps, but ultimately settled for a second-place finish. Both of these championship contenders will be motivated to find Victory Lane after what could have been at Darlington and are headed to a track where both have been dominant. They’ve combined for three wins and eight top fives in the last seven races at Kansas, so expect both Busch and Hamlin to be battling it out for the lead once again. They finished third and fourth in the spring race earlier this season when Kurt Busch won.

Kyle Larson vs. Chase Elliott – It wasn’t the start of the Playoffs that Chase Elliott or Kyle Larson was looking for. Both Hendrick teammates had their fair share of struggles throughout the day, starting with Kyle Larson who found himself on pit road with possible engine failure. Luckily, Cliff Daniels and company fixed the issue, but Larson was three laps down early in Stage 2. His Hendrick counterpart and Regular Season Champion, Chase Elliott spun and hit the wall on Lap 113. The damage was so severe that Elliott was unable to fix his car under the DVP clock and had to retire from the race in last place. Elliott fell from first to ninth in the standings. Larson was able to get back on the lead lap in Stage 3 and battled back for a 12th-place finish. For two of the top Playoff contenders, they’ll look to have a better performance at Kansas. Larson holds one win and an average finish of 8.8 in his last five races at Kansas. Elliott boasts an average finishing position of 8.6, so these Hendrick teammates will be poised to regroup and find their stride in the Playoffs.

Ryan Blaney vs. Joey Logano – Keeping the theme going with teammate matchups, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano are our final Featured Matchup for Kansas. Joey Logano’s weekend started out perfect, as he won the pole and the best pit stall for Darlington. However, a long pit stop shuffled him back in the field, and he had to battle the rest of the night for track position. Battle he did, as Logano raced his way to a fourth-place finish, and currently sits atop the Playoff standings. Ryan Blaney avoided trouble all night, and although he didn’t have the car he wanted, he picked up eight combined stage points and finished 13th. These two Team Penske Ford’s will head to Kansas hoping for better results this time around. Earlier this season at Kansas, no Fords finished inside the top-10. That will have to change if Logano wants to maintain the top spot in the Playoff standings. Logano does have one victory to his resume, but Blaney holds the edge in driver rating at 90.8 compared to Logano’s 85.1.

Another different winner brings 2022 NASCAR Cup Series total to a record 17 – Petty GMS driver Erik Jones won the Cookout Southern 500 last weekend at Darlington Raceway, becoming the 17th different winner of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season tying 1961 season for the most different winners (17) through 27 races of a single season.

The most winners all-time in a NASCAR Cup Series season is 19 different winners and it has occurred four times in the series – 1956, 1958, 1961 and 2001.

In 1956, the 19th different winner was named at the third to last race of the year at Martinsville Speedway (Race No. 54 of 56 on the schedule) – Jack Smith won the event.

In 1958, the 19th different winner was named with seven races left on the year at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California (Race No. 44 of 51 on the schedule) – Parnelli Jones won the event.

In 1961, the 19th different winner was named with 10 races left on the year at Darlington Raceway (Race No. 42 of 52 on the schedule) – Nelson Stacey won the event.

The 2001 season is the only season to reach 19 different winners in the Modern Era (1972-2022). In 2001, the 19th different winner was named season finale race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Race No. 36 of 36 on the Schedule) – Robby Gordon won the event.

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