Length: 1.5 miles
Banking: Turns 17-20⁰/ Front stretch 9-11⁰/ Backstretch 5⁰
Any NASCAR fan knows that there are some races you can walk away from feeling comfortable with where your favorite driver finished, whether they scored a win or not. And then there are races that make you feel very uneasy, especially when it’s chase season. That very scenario played out this past Sunday at the Hollywood Casino 400 race at Kansas Speedway, as it left Joey Logano fans confused, Brad Keselowski fans cringing, Matt Kenseth fans asking “what happened?” and Chase Elliott fans once again shaking their heads at his bad luck. Kevin Harvick fans are possibly the only people content with the race results.
Pole winner, Matt Kenseth had a strong start to the race, leading 116 of the 267 laps, capitalizing on every restart, and exhibited zero pit problems. Yet somehow Kevin Harvick was able to catch Kenseth and pass him, as the #20 car that was s0 very dominant and had handled so very well had suddenly become loose. Kenseth’s position fell fast and he ended up finishing in 9th place.
Opposite to Kenseth, Team Penske driver Joey Logano reported being tight for most of the day. But the poor handling didn’t stop the defending Kansas speedway winner as he ran in the top five throughout the race. After his last pit stop, Logano was able to surge to third position, and almost but not quite catch second before the checkered flag dropped. Regardless of the respectable finish, Logano is currently sitting on the points cut-off line. This means that a bad run next week at Talladega could see Driver 22 eliminated from The Chase.
Despite the 8 cautions, the race was relatively uneventful as most cautions were for blown tires or debris on the track. The most notable caution was Brad Keselowski who exited Turn 4 too fast, got loose and moved up the race track right in front of Joe Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin. Without any room or time to check up, Hamlin tapped the back of Keselowski’s bumper. At such a high speed, the tap was enough to send Kes into the grass which completely destroyed the front of the car. The Miller Lite No.2 went to the garage immediately and a new front was put on the car. Returning to the track, Keselowski was able to run only one lap before returning to the garage and calling it a day. The wreck put him below the cut-off line for The Chase.
Chase Elliott had a shot at winning his first Sprint Cup race at Kansas as he overtook the lead from Kevin Harvick on Lap 169 and shortly after he made his scheduled green-flag pit stop. Everything was fine until his No.24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet experienced a tire rub and had to come back down pit road again. When he returned to the track, he was outside the top 20 and a lap down. “We’ll run her until she breaks,” Elliott said over the radio to his team… and she (the car) did. Elliott came back down pit road for a flat tire this time and when he returned to the track he was 32nd and three laps down. The Sunoco rookie of the year contender is now -25 points in 12th place in The Chase standing.
Race winner Kevin Harvick had a smooth day as he faced only one slow pit stop. He took the lead from Carl Edwards on Lap 238 and pulled away to take the checkered flag. This is Harvick’s 39th career victory and his 4th this year. He has gone from -8-point last week to a secured spot in the round of 8.
Be sure to tune into the madness that is Talladega next weekend for the elimination race.