NASCAR returns to Kansas Speedway for the 267-lap Hollywood Casino 400, the second event in the ‘Round of 12’ in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With 40 drivers on the entry list, they all will make the show. The grid will be set with three rounds of group qualifying. 24 cars will advance to round two and 12 to round three.
Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval located near the intersection of Interstate 70 and 435 in Kansas City, KS. The four turns have a banking of 17-20 degrees while the front stretch is 9-11 degrees. The backstretch features a banking of five degrees. Since the track opened in 2001, hotels, an outdoor retail mall, and movie-theater complex have made an impact on the surrounding area.
Joey Logano is the defending race winner. In fact, the driver of the No 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford has won the two previous fall Kansas races. After a 36th-place finish in last week’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Logano is currently in the bottom four of the Chase standings and has some ground to make up if he wants to advance to the ‘Round of Eight’. Logano’s 2016 Cup record includes a win at the June Michigan race, along with 11 top five’s and 20 top 10’s. He’s also currently ranked 12th in the playoff standings with 3006 points.
Kyle Busch is looking for a Heartland sweep. The last time the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota set wheel on the Kansas asphalt, he won the Go Bowling.com 400, leading 69 of 267 laps. The defending Cup champion is currently holding down third in the Chase standings with 3036 points after a sixth-place finish in last week’s Bank of America 500.
Coming into this weekend, Busch is sticking with his game plan. He has also learned some things from his teammate and No. 20 DEWALT FLEXVOLT Toyota driver, Matt Kenseth.
“We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done – same preparation, nothing different,” Busch said in a Toyota Racing advance. “In the spring (race) earlier this year, (Matt) Kenseth has always been fast at Kansas, so we looked at a lot of his stuff, a lot of how his car was set up and we learned some of those things from those guys who I felt helped us and got us better in the ballpark for Kansas in the springtime when we won there. There was a lot of work done for that and on my behalf that I think helped out. We’ll just do the same things this time around. It’s no different than what we typically do each and every week.”
Along with the previous Kansas win, Busch has visited Victory Lane at the spring races at Martinsville and Texas as well as Indianapolis last summer. The Las Vegas native also has recorded 13 top five’s, 20 top 10’s and so far, led a total of 8061 laps.
Jimmie Johnson is looking to keep the momentum up on the way to a possible seventh Sprint Cup championship. “It’s definitely more realistic because we are alive and transferring to the Round of 8,” the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driver said in a Team Chevy advance. “There is still so much racing between now and then. We have had some consistent runs, so definitely building confidence in that.”
With his win in Charlotte, Johnson is leading the playoff standings with 3045 points. “The Victory is a huge boost there is no way around that for myself, my crew members, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” he said. “We are definitely building momentum at the right time, it’s probably later than we would’ve liked, but at least it’s going in the right direction. We will see where it goes from here. We clearly are in that Round of 8, but man, this Chase, I think some felt like it got off to a calm start. Then last weekend with half the Chasers having issues in the race, I think it just shows anything can happen.”
Johnson visited the Kansas victory circle back in May of 2015 and finished 17th at this year’s spring race.
Martin Truex Jr. will be making his 400th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend. “I didn’t even know about it until (David) Ferroni (public relations) told me what – two, three days ago? – and asked me what I thought about it, so it was kind of a wow moment for me,” Truex said in an earlier press conference, also the Toyota Racing advance. “It’s obviously a big deal, but it’s hard to believe it’s went – that many races have went by so fast. It felt like just yesterday I started my Cup career, so it’s very cool. I’m very proud to be around for this long and even more proud that some of our best days have been here of lately and hopefully we can keep that going for a long time.”
For Truex Jr’s race team, Furniture Row Racing, which is based in Denver, Colo., Kansas is considered a home track. The driver of the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/ TRACKER boats Toyota led 172 laps in the May event but had to settle for a 14th-place finish after a pit road issue.
“It’s always been a difficult place for us. Like we said, we’ve been so close,” Truex said. For Barney (Visser, team owner), for our team, this is the closest race track to Denver, Colorado, so it’s kind of – this is kind of their home track and we get a lot of fans from Colorado that say, ‘Hey, we came out from Denver to support the team,’ which is awesome. We get a lot of that here and it’s the shortest trip for Barney to come on Sunday and usually brings the bigger part of his family here than he does at most places, so, yeah, it’s great for those guys that don’t get to come to the race track all the time, but it’s cool for a lot of our fans from out in Colorado and west of the Mississippi (River) just to get a race to support their team.”
Truex Jr. has a total of four wins. He won the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bojangles’ Southern 500 during the regular season. Since the Chase began, he’s won races at Chicago and Dover. He also has netted seven top five's and 15 top 10's.
Qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 is scheduled to take place this afternoon at 5:15 PM CT (track time) on NBCSN. The race commences Sunday afternoon at 1:15 PM CT on your local NBC affiliate. MRN and Sirius XM Channel 90 have radio coverage.