What to Watch: 2022 Kansas Speedway playoff race

·7 min read

Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
(⏰ 3 p.m. ET | 📺 USA Network, NBC Sports App | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas, the second playoff event of the 2022 campaign.

Where: Kansas City, Kansas
Approximate start time: 3 p.m. ET | Weekend schedule
TV/Radio: USA, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio | Full TV schedule
The purse: $8,338,881
Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 75 degrees, according to NOAA.gov | Weather tracker
Race distance: 267 laps | 400.5 miles
Stages: 80 | 165 | 267
Pit-road speed: 45 mph
Caution car speed: 55 mph
Kansas 101: Get the full lowdown
Starting lineup:
Where drivers will start Sunday
Pit stalls: See where your driver pits Sunday
Cars to the rear: No. 10 (engine change) and No. 47 (unapproved adjustments)
Playoff grid: Print yours now

Key things to watch 🔑

Big story line

Darlington Raceway shook up the playoff outlook. Many contenders and predicted locks for the Round of 12, including title favorite Chase Elliott, found themselves off to a shaky start in their pursuit of a championship. Sunday’s crucial race at Kansas will set the stage for the first elimination race, letting each team know what it needs to accomplish before next week’s daunting Bristol Night Race. Four drivers below the cutline need to take the necessary risks to have a big points day. And those above need to avoid mistakes at all costs. Who will rise to the occasion?

Who’s hot? Who’s not? 

Christopher Bell is turning up the heat at the right time, rocketing up the playoff standings with a strong showing at Darlington. Bell has finished top eight in three of the last four races, with the only non-top 10 coming at Daytona International Speedway. The good news for Bell and the No. 20 team is that his run-of-form should continue at Kansas, where the Toyotas were on a tear in the spring and Bell finished fifth. If they can find success again this weekend, you may see a lot of folks adjusting their playoff predictions.

What happened to Ross Chastain? Chastain was arguably the fastest driver throughout multiple points this season, leading him to a pair of wins and close finishes at the top of the leaderboard. But lately, Chastain and the No. 1 crew have been reeling. The team has seven consecutive finishes of 18th or worse and is slipping down the standings a bit. A decent finish — 20th — at Darlington kept him in the hunt with misfortune for a handful of others. But he will need to right the ship this weekend at Kansas.

Driving under the radar

Amidst the title talk, Alex Bowman’s name generally gets lost in conversation. But Bowman has the potential to be a serious wild card and shake up the playoff outlook entirely. Though they ended the pre-playoff summer stretch reeling, a 10th-place result at Darlington could be the spark this team needed to make a run. Bowman has five top 10s in the last nine Kansas races and has scored stage points in eight of the 18 stages. It would not be surprising to see him have success on Sunday.

Saturday’s sessions

Tyler Reddick showed up Saturday with incredible speed, roaring past Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace to take the top spot in the lone practice session. Reddick put together a 32-lap run with a best time of 30.184 seconds. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. suffered from a blown rear tire, making contact with the wall and needing to make lengthy repairs after practice.

In a qualifying session without many surprises, Reddick proved to be a familiar face at the top of the board. Reddick earned just his second Busch Light Pole Award of the season, and first on an oval layout, with a blistering 29.899-second lap time. Reddick was the leader of five Chevrolets in the top 10, followed by Alex Bowman, Chastain, Kyle Larson and William Byron. Bell was the top Toyota and Joey Logano, joining Reddick on the front row, starts second to lead the Fords. | Full practice, qualifying recap

 

A view of the track from the infield tunnel.
A view of the track from the infield tunnel.

Race-day staples ✅

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

• Paint Scheme Preview: See the new schemes for Sunday | Pick a favorite
• Power Rankings: Christopher Bell looking like an early contender | Updated driver rankings
• NASCAR betting: Odds for 2022 Kansas playoff race | Underdogs, value bets
• Fantasy Fastlane: Which team will find the Yellow Brick Road? | Top plays, sleepers
• Title contenders: Analyzing the playoff drivers after Darlington | Read more

Catch the pack 💨

Read up on the top headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

• In-car: Cameras debut for full field at Kansas | Read more
• Rule change:
New changes to address fire issue from Darlington | Read more
• Suárez vs. Bell:
Suárez still heated after Darlington | Bell will watch his back
• Alex Bowman:
Hoping to shake off summer struggles at Kansas | Read more
• Kyle Busch:
Reportedly picks a team for 2023 | Full Jayski report
• 2023:
 North Wilkesboro set to hold All-Star Race | Read more
• Champion’s Week:
Event returns to Nashville for 2022 | Read more
• Kyle Larson:
Chimes in on Hendrick Motorsports vs. JGR at 1.5-mile tracks | Listen here
• Stacking Pennies:
Austin Dillon joins to recap the weekend | Full podcast

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

• BetMGM: Breaking down driver matchups for Kansas | Read more
• The Action Network:
Daniel Suárez battles Erik Jones | Matchup insight
• Play it LIVE: Full guide to 2022 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | New rules for playoffs
• Going all the way:
2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here
• The Action Network:
Why Elliott, Buescher are good race-day bets | Read more
• Fantasy update:
Dustin Albino’s lineup after Saturday’s action | Read more

Coming back to Kansas 🌻

Heading back to Kansas is always a treat, especially in the playoffs. Take a look at some important history. 

• Do you remember?: Memorable moments at Kansas Speedway | Relive them here
• Earlier this year:
Kurt Busch holds off Kyle Larson for electric win | Race recap
• Race Rewind:
Next Gen takes on Kansas for the first time | Watch highlights

Fast facts ⏩

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

All six Toyotas entered in May at Kansas finished in the top 10.
The pass for the win came in the final 10 laps in 15 of the 27 races in 2022.
Kevin Harvick is the only active driver with an average finish in the top 10 at Kansas.
The last seven playoff races were won by drivers under the age of 30.
The last time Ford won a playoff race was 15 races ago in 2020 at Kansas, won by Joey Logano.

Say what? 🎙

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

“We‘re looking forward to Kansas this weekend. We feel like this is an opportunity to run well based on how our season has gone and how we ran there in the spring. For us, we need to be a little bit better than what we were then, but we feel like we can certainly do that. It‘s also an exciting weekend welcoming Acumatica on board for their first NASCAR race, so we want to put on a good show for them and hopefully continue building momentum here in the playoffs.” — Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

“Racing at Kansas earlier this year, I felt like we made so many gains and learned so much as a team. Kaulig Racing has made some steps in the right direction over the past few weeks, so I‘m looking forward to getting back in the No. 16 Camaro with CURE Token onboard this week and showing the progress we have made together.” — Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

“Thankfully, the points situation is much better than I expected, but we‘ve still got to have two solid races. I felt like Darlington was where we‘d struggle the most out of these first three tracks. The plan for Kansas and Bristol is to get some stage points and be there at the end. We don‘t necessarily need a win, even though that would make it a lot easier, we just need to have a really good points day.” — Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.