The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Kansas Speedway this weekend in the midst of quite the battle.
The Round of 16 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs continues with the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), which serves as the penultimate race of the postseason’s opening round.
Get set for the 267-lap contest here:
FAMILIARIZING THEMSELVES WITH THE TRACK
Teams will have roughly 20 minutes to practice on Saturday (12:05 p.m. ET, NBC Sports App) with teams broken into Groups A and B. Once both groups have completed their practice sessions, single-car, single-lap qualifying will begin to set the starting lineup (12:50 p.m. ET).
With the postseason underway, playoff drivers and teams will be ordered by their previous race metrics and assigned to Group A or B by the usual odd/even metric procedures. Playoff teams will be the final cars to qualify in their respective groups.
The five fastest overall drivers from each group will advance to the final round of qualifying, where those 10 drivers will each set one more timed lap to fight for the Busch Light Pole Award.
KANSAS STORY LINES
— Seventeen different drivers have won through 27 races, tied for the record through 27 races set in 1961.
— The pass for the win came in the final 10 laps in 15 of the 27 races this season.
— Tyler Reddick, who finished third last week at Darlington, has the longest active top-10 streak at three races.
— Christopher Bell‘s win at New Hampshire is the only win by Toyota in the last 13 races.
— Chase Elliott‘s best finish following a last place finish is a win, which came in 2019 at Watkins Glen. Elliott finished last a week ago at Darlington.
— All six Toyotas entered at Kansas in May finished in the top 10.
Source: Racing Insights
Goodyear returns to Kansas Speedway, hoping the flat tires that appeared in May are a thing of the past.
Further tire testing produced new tire setups, including this weekend’s right-side tire that debuted at Pocono Raceway in July. Both left- and right-side tire codes are updated from the May event, with the left-side compound ready to perform in its inaugural race.
“We obviously started 2022 with a new car, and all those involved in the sport have learned a lot over the ensuing months,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “The loads generated on this Next Gen car are quite different than the past, so we evaluated what we saw early in the season and designed some construction updates that we were able to test on track before we unveiled the right side enhancements at the Pocono and Michigan races earlier this summer.
“We had good feedback from the drivers throughout the process and have had good results on the track since. The combination we are running at Kansas this week, which will also be run at Texas and Las Vegas, introduces a left-side construction enhancement to be paired with that right-side already introduced. This combination was confirmed in testing at Charlotte in early August.”
— In 1997, Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, were selected as the site for a new Midwestern speedway at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 435. That December, International Speedway Corp. (ISC) announced plans to build a 1.5-mile speedway to seat approximately 75,000.
— Architecture firm HNTB designed the facility and Turner Construction provided construction management. Construction began on the 1,200-acre, 1.5-mile speedway in May 1999.
— The NASCAR Cup Series ran its first event at the facility on Sept. 30, 2001. Jeff Gordon won the race after leading 53 of 267 laps.
— Kansas has hosted a race every season since 2001 and has hosted two races a season since 2011.
— Kansas was repaved and reformatted between races in 2012. This will be the 20th race on the new surface at Kansas.
— This is the 19th playoff race at Kansas. There has been a playoff race at Kansas every year of the playoff era (2004-2022).
— The last five Kansas races were won by different drivers
— Kyle Larson was passed for the win in two of the last three Kansas races and won the other.
— The winners of the last 23 Kansas races have all also won a Cup Championship except for Denny Hamlin.
— Kurt Busch passed Kyle Larson with nine laps to go at Kansas in May, the latest the final lead change has occurred in the last eight Kansas races.
Source: Racing Insights
WHO’S YOUR MONEY ON?
Four Toyotas were among the six cars with the best odds to win Sunday’s playoff race, according to BetMGM’s opening board. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, both at 6-1, opened as co-favorites with Martin Truex Jr. (9-1) and Christopher Bell (12-1) not far behind. Bell has yet to win at Kansas in the Cup Series, but the other three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have combined for seven victories at the 1.5-mile track with Hamlin leading the way with three wins.
Hamlin won this particular race in 2019, and Busch last won here in the spring of 2021. Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson is the defending winner of the Kansas playoff race, and he comes in at 7-1 odds.
Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which reset for the playoffs. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $10,000 prize for the playoff winner.
The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (934), Joey Logano (842), and Ryan Blaney (827).
In addition to Fantasy Live, NASCAR.com is offering the Playoffs Grid Challenge presented by Ruoff Mortgage during the playoffs.
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.
NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.