NASCAR at Kansas Speedway Oct 15 – 16 2016

2016-oct-14-318537

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400
Kansas Speedway Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps)
Sunday, Oct. 16 2:15 p.m. ET TV: NBC, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR XFINITY Series Kansas Lottery 300
Kansas Speedway Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Saturday, Oct. 15 3 p.m. ET TV: NBC, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fred’s 250 powered by Coca-Cola
Talladega Superspeedway Distance: 250.04 miles (94 laps)
Saturday, Oct. 22 1 p.m. ET TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

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Wild Charlotte Race Leads To Round of 12
Charlotte shook up the Chase Grid as five Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers finished 30th or below while Jimmie Johnson sped to victory to clinch the first automatic berth in the Round of 8. Here’s how the Chase Grid shakes out heading into Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (2:15 p.m. ET on NBC) – Jimmie Johnson (1 win), Matt Kenseth (31 points above Austin Dillon on the cutoff line), Kyle Busch (+27), Brad Keselowski (+25), Kurt Busch (+24), Carl Edwards (+20), Martin Truex Jr. (+19), Denny Hamlin (+3), Austin Dillon (three points behind Denny Hamlin on the cutoff line), Chase Elliott (-3), Joey Logano (-6), Kevin Harvick (-8).

The results for the 12 Chasers at Charlotte: Johnson (first), Kenseth (second), Busch (sixth), Keselowski (seventh), Kurt Busch (eighth), Edwards (12th), Truex (13th), Hamlin (30th), Dillon (32nd), Elliott (33rd), Logano (36th), Harvick (38th).

Johnson Advances To Round Of 8 For First Time Under New Chase Format
Jimmie Johnson advances to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Round of 8 for the first time under the new “win and you’re in” format following his record eighth victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday.

The Championship 4 race at Homestead is likely to include Johnson. The Round of 8 features Martinsville where he leads active drivers with 8 wins. It also includes Texas where Johnson boasts a track record six victories and has taken the checkered flag in the last two fall races. Johnson’s Charlotte triumph snapped a career-long drought of 24 races without a win. After struggling through the summer with only four top-10 finishes from the Charlotte spring race through the regular season finale at Richmond, the No. 48 Chevrolet driver claims three top-10 results in the first four Chase races. In NASCAR’s playoffs, he’s led the most laps at Chicagoland (118) and Charlotte (155).

Although Johnson can’t earn bonus points for the Round of 8 with a win in his next two races, he can block an automatic qualifying spot from a Chase driver. Two of his biggest threats, past Championship 4 participants Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick, are both below the cutoff line in points and would have a lesser chance of making the Round of 8 if Johnson were to win again in the next two races.

Kansas could easily be the site of the next Johnson win. He is tied with Jeff Gordon for the track record with three victories at the 1.5-mile circuit. In 20 starts at Kansas, he also has eight top fives and 16 top 10s. Among active drivers, he boasts the top Kansas average finish (7.9), average running position (9.5) and driver rating (110.4).

That Winning Feeling: Chase Drivers Who Have Won At Kansas
It’s been stated over and over again, “win and you’re in” is the name of the game in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, especially during the Chase. Seven Chase drivers have won at Kansas previously: Jimmie Johnson (three times), Matt Kenseth (twice), Joey Logano (twice), Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

How Chasers Fared In The Spring Kansas Race
There are only two tracks in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are venues the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits just once a year – Chicagoland Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Here’s a look at how the drivers in the Round of 12 performed at the first Kansas race of the season in May: Kyle Busch (first), Kevin Harvick (second), Kurt Busch (third), Matt Kenseth (fourth), Austin Dillon (sixth), Chase Elliott (ninth), Brad Keselowski (10th), Carl Edwards (11th), Martin Truex Jr (14th), Jimmie Johnson (17th), Denny Hamlin (37th), Joey Logano (38th).
Truex led a race-high 172 laps, while Busch paced the field for the second-most go-arounds (69).

Chase Drivers At Intermediate Tracks In 2016
Kansas marks the third intermediate track of the Chase. Four drivers have two wins each in the eight races on intermediate tracks this season – and all are still alive in the Chase – Brad Keselowski (Kentucky and Las Vegas), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta and Charlotte), Kyle Busch (Kansas and Texas) and Martin Truex Jr (Charlotte and Chicagoland).

Here’s how the Chase drivers rank in average finish at 1.5-mile tracks (including 1.54-mile Atlanta) this season: Keselowski (7.0), Kurt Busch (7.0), Truex (7.9), Kyle Busch (8.5), Johnson (9.1), Carl Edwards (11.0), Kevin Harvick (11.75), Matt Kenseth (12.13), Austin Dillon (14.4), Chase Elliott (16.88), Denny Hamlin (17.4), Joey Logano (17.6).

Here’s how the Chase drivers stack up in driver rating at 1.5-mile tracks (including 1.54-mile Atlanta) this season: Truex (119.90), Johnson (109.39), Harvick (106.39), Kyle Busch (105.99), Keselowski (103.53), Kenseth (101.90), Edwards (97.08), Elliott (96.40), Logano (93.01), Kurt Busch (92.90), Hamlin (86.69).

Truex’s 817 laps led are more than double the laps led of the next-best driver (Johnson, 406). The two are followed by 3. Harvick (273), 4. Elliott (179), 5. Kyle Busch (165), 6. Edwards (125), 7. Keselowski (109), 8. Kurt Busch (103), 9. Kenseth (87), 10. Logano (82) and 11. Hamlin (64). Austin Dillon is the only Chase driver outside the top 11 in laps led at intermediate tracks. He ranks 18th with three.

Elliott Looks To Continue Strong Chase Run
Chase Elliott’s 33rd-place finish was not indicative of his of his overall performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 20-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner led 103 laps before a wreck on Lap 258 ended his day. He also posted the second-best driver rating on the afternoon (116.4). As a result of the wreck, he sits three points behind Denny Hamlin for the final transfer spot to the Round of 8.
In the Chase, the No. 24 Hendrick Motosports driver has finishes of third (Chicagoland), 13th (Louden), third (Dover) and 33rd (Charlotte). He has led 176 laps in NASCAR’s playoffs, accounting for more than half of his 342 laps led on the season.
Elliott will attempt to continue his strong Chase at Kansas where he finished ninth in his lone start there this spring.

Past Kansas Winners Attempt To Spoil Chase Berth
A few non-Chasers have experienced success at Kansas and will attempt to spoil a berth in the Round of 8. Of the non-Chasers, Greg Biffle (twice), Tony Stewart (twice) and Ryan Newman have all won in the Jayhawk State.
Biffle (96.8, fourth), Kasey Kahne (91.8, seventh), Kyle Larson (91.8, eighth) and Stewart (89.1, 10th) are non-Chasers who rank in the top-10 in active Kanas driver rating.
Kahne (fall of 2011 and spring of 2013) and Larson (fall of 2014) have both finished runner-up at Kansas.

Ryan Blaney (fifth), Ryan Newman (seventh) and AJ Allmendinger (eighth) were the only non-Chase-eligible drivers to finish in the top-10 at Kansas this spring.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.
Truex Set For 400th Career Start

Martin Truex Jr. will make his 400th career start in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. For his career, he owns seven wins, 47 top-five and 132 top-10 finishes.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

KSL 300 on white

NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase: The Round Of 8 Is On
With the conclusion of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 12, four drivers were eliminated from title contention – Ty Dillon, Ryan Sieg, Brennan Poole and Brandon Jones – leaving eight championship contenders to battle it out at the next three tracks. Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway will determine who has makes it into the Championship Four and a shot at the title in Miami.

Now five organizations make up the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 8: Joe Gibbs Racing (Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones), JR Motorsports (Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier), Richard Childress Racing (Brendan Gaughan), Roush Fenway Racing (Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace Jr.) and Kaulig Racing (Blake Koch).

All three manufacturers are represented in the Round of 8: Chevrolet (four), Toyota and Ford (two each).
The next three tracks in the Round of 8 each have their own unique characteristics.
Kansas Speedway (Kansas City, Kansas) – is a 1.5-mile asphalt speedway with variable banking in the turns that changes from 17 to 20 degrees. The NASCAR XFINITY Series has held 15 races at Kansas Speedway producing 12 different winners, led by Kyle Busch with three wins. None of the eight Chase contenders have won at Kansas. This weekend’s race, the Kansas Lottery 300, can be found on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. ET.
Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth, Texas) – is a 1.5-mile asphalt speedway with 24 degrees of banking in all four turns. The NASCAR
XFINITY Series has hosted 31 races at Texas Motor Speedway with 15 different drivers taking the checkered flag, led by Kyle Busch with eight victories. Of the eight remaining title challengers, Erik Jones is the only one that has won at Texas Motor Speedway (April, 2015). The Texas Chase race, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, will be broadcast on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Phoenix International Raceway (Phoenix, Arizona) – is a 1-mile track with nine degrees of banking in Turns 1 and 2, and 11 degrees of banking in Turns 3 and 4. The NASCAR XFINITY Series has run 29 races at Phoenix International Raceway producing 15 different winners, led by Kyle Busch with nine wins. Of the eight remaining Chase drivers, Elliott Sadler is the only one that has won at Phoenix International Raceway (March, 2012). Phoenix’s Chase race, the Ticket Galaxy 200, will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

And Then There Were Eight
Below is a look at the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 8 drivers in order of their current seeding:

1. Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry – enters the Round of 8 with some serious momentum holding the No. 1 seed. The Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next graduate also leads the series in average finish (2.0) over the last three NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase races; finishing second at Kentucky, winning Dover and placing third last weekend at Charlotte. Suarez’s season seems almost destined to contend for the title. In 29 starts this season he has posted two wins (Michigan and Dover) and a series-leading 15 top fives. Last season’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Suarez, made his series track debut at Kansas Speedway last fall, starting sixth and finishing ninth.

2. Elliott Sadler – No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – rockets into the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 8 with the championship in focus. The veteran driver, Sadler, much like Daniel Suarez, had a stellar Round of 12, posting an average finish of just 3.3 over the last three races – second only to Suarez. Sadler, seeking his first series title, looks hungry this season. In 29 starts he has posted three wins (Talladega, Darlington, and Kentucky), 12 top fives and a series leading 26 top 10s. Sadler wants to bring JR Motorsports their second title in three years, but to do that he will need to make it to the Championship Four. Sadler has made six series starts at Kansas Speedway, posting two top fives, and four top 10s.

3. Justin Allgaier – No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – has built his title run on consistency, posting the second-most top 10s this season at 24. But keeping up with the top two seeds, Suarez and Sadler, has been no easy task. Allgaier hasn’t visited Victory Lane yet this season, but his 12 top fives and 24 top 10s have kept in lock step with the front-runners. In the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 12, Allgaier posted an average finish of 6.0 – third-best among title contenders. Allgaier’s solid runs should continue this week at Kansas, in his five previous series starts there he has posted four top 10s and an average finish of 7.2.

4. Erik Jones – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry – has rebounded from a disastrous start to his NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase to make it to the Round of 8 after finishing 26th at Kentucky due to an accident, 16th at Dover and placing fifth this past weekend at Charlotte. Jones now sits in the fourth seed after posting an average finish of 16.7 in the Round of 12, and luckily for him the points have been reset to 3,000 bringing all the eight remaining title contenders back to even. Jones’ 2016 season looks title worthy though; having posted four wins (Bristol, Dover, Iowa and Chicago), 14 top fives, 17 top 10s and a series rookie record of nine poles. But bad luck seems to bite Mr. Jones every so often (four DNFs this season – most among Chasers). Jones will be making his series track debut at Kansas Speedway this weekend, but don’t think it will slow him down much, on 1.5-mile tracks this season he has posted an average finish of 9.6.

5. Brendan Gaughan – No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro – enters the Round of 8 as the lone driver carrying the RCR banner after teammate Ty Dillon missed the cut. Now the 40-year-old veteran, Gaughan has the chance to bring the title back to RCR for the first time since Austin Dillon captured the championship in 2013. Gaughan has turned it on during these playoffs, posting the fourth-best average finish (9.6) among Chase drivers over the three races in the Round of 12. Gaughan’s season has seen four top fives, 15 top 10s and an average finish of 10.8. In four starts at Kansas, Gaughan has posted two top 10s; including a 10th-place finish in this event last season.

6. Ryan Reed – No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang – is another Chase contender that has found another gear during these playoffs. In his last three starts (Round of 12), he has posted an average finish of 10.7, which is nearly six positions better on average than his season-long average finish of 16.0. Reed’s 2016 season has amassed one top five and six top 10s. Heading into Kansas this weekend, Reed will need his recent success to continue, having made four starts at the 1.5-mile speedway, posting an average finish of 14.5.

7. Darrell Wallace Jr. – No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang – is looking to turn his series playoff run around and making it to the Round of 8 just might be the reset his title chances need. Wallace kicked the Round of 12 off strong, but his finishes faded as the round went on, finishing eighth at Kentucky, 11th at Dover and placing 20th last weekend at Charlotte. Wallace has made 29 starts this season posting three top fives and nine top 10s. Now turning his attention to Kansas, Wallace can focus on making the Championship Four. Wallace made his series track debut last season at Kansas, starting 14th and finishing 11th.

8. Blake Koch – No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro – and first-year team Kaulig Racing are pulling off nothing short of a miracle during this season’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase by making it to the Round of 8, beating out four serious title contenders for the final seeding. Koch’s production during the Round of 12 was night and day compared to his regular season; over the last three races Koch has posted an average finish of 12.3 (sixth-best among Chase drivers). Koch’s playoff performance thus far has been, on average, nearly six positions better than his regular season average finish of 18.1. Don’t count Koch out of this next round either; he has posted an average finish of 18.3 on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Koch has made five starts at Kansas, posting a best finish of 25th.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.
Jennifer Jo Cobb will attempt season debut – Over the last three seasons, Jennifer Jo Cobb has competed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at just one track – Kansas Speedway. Cobb, a series regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will be attempting to make her series season debut this weekend at Kansas. In Cobb’s last three series starts at Kansas she has posted an average finish of 26.3. If Cobb makes the race she will become the third female driver to compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season joining Alli Owens and Paige Decker. …
Daniel Suarez Makes Trip To The White House – This past Tuesday (Oct. 11), NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase driver Daniel Suarez made a trip to visit the White House in Washington D.C. to participate in town hall discussion with Hispanic youth in support of Hispanic Heritage Month. …
Double the Duty Double The Fun – This weekend there will be seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver attempting to make the field at Kansas: Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Regan Smith, Josh Wise and Matt DiBenedetto. …
Milestones This Weekend – 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase driver Ryan Sieg, will be making his 100th NASCAR XFINITY Series start this weekend at Kansas, becoming the 128th driver to accomplish the feat.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase Update
A second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase-eligible driver did not clinch an automatic berth to the Round of 6 in the DC Solar 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 1 as non-chaser Tyler Reddick took the checkered flag. The highest finishing Chase driver was runner-up Daniel Hemric, who was followed by Ben Kennedy (fourth), William Byron (fifth, clinched berth in Round of 6 with win at New Hampshire), Christopher Bell (sixth), Johnny Sauter (seventh), Matt Crafton (eighth), Timothy Peters (ninth) and John Hunter Nemechek (16th).

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads next to Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 22 for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (1 p.m. ET on FS1) – the Round of 8 cut of race. Byron sits first in the Chase standings and is the only driver who has clinched a spot in the Round of 8. He is trailed by Bell (25 points above Hemric on the cutoff line), Crafton (+24), Kennedy (+18), Peters (+16), Sauter (+15), Hemric (15 points below Sauter on the cutoff line) and Nemechek (-15).

Talladega Dreamin’
Here’s a look at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase drivers’ stats at Talladega:
William Byron – Byron has never made a start at Talladega.
Christopher Bell – Bell finished 13th in his lone start at Talladega last season.
Matt Crafton – In 10 starts at Talladega, Crafton claims one top five, three top 10s, a 16.2 average finish and 50 laps led. His best finish at the 2.66-mile behemoth was a fourth-place showing in 2010.
Ben Kennedy – Kennedy has made two starts at Talladega, finishing 28th (2014) and 25th (2015).
Timothy Peters – Peters has won the last two races at Talladega. In seven starts there, he boasts two wins, three top fives, four top 10s and an 11.0 average finish.
Johnny Sauter – In seven starts at Talladega, Sauter owns one win (2013), three top fives, four top 10s and a 15.7 average finish.
Daniel Hemric – Hemric finished 28th at Talladega in his lone start there last year.
John Hunter Nemechek – Nemechek finished 11th at Talladega in his lone start there last year.

Gragson To Run Full-Time With Kyle Busch Motorsports
NASCAR Next member Noah Gragson will compete full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2017.

Gragson, 18, of Las Vegas, Nevada, has six wins the last two seasons in 41 starts across the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West the last two seasons. He also owns 18 top fives and 31 top 10s. This season, Gragson raced full-time in both series, finishing third in the West standings in fifth in the East ranks.

“It’s hard to believe that about four years ago I toured Kyle Busch Motorsports as a young fan and aspiring driver in awe of the massive trophy collection, how immaculate the shop was and getting the chance to meet Darrell Wallace Jr. – now just a short time later I’m going to be competing for them full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” Gragson said. “The last few years KBM has developed some of the best young talent in all of NASCAR and I know that I’m going to be stepping into fast Toyota Tundras that are capable of running up front, competing for wins and that if I’m able to do my part that I’ll be able to add to the trophy cases I gazed into not long ago. As an up-and-coming driver that is all I can ask for as I try to continue my climb up the racing ladder with the ultimate goal of one day following in Kyle’s path from Las Vegas to the Cup Series.”

NASCAR
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Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR

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