Round of 12 to conclude at Kansas

Round+of+12+to+conclude+at+Kansas

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 will come to an end once the Hollywood Casino 400 ends on Sunday afternoon from Kansas Speedway. Four more championship contenders will be eliminated, eight will remain standing and the Round of 8 will begin.

WHAT: Hollywood Casino 400 (267 laps, 400 miles. Stages of 80, 80 and 107 laps, respectively)
WHEN: Sunday, October 22, 2017. Green flag scheduled to fly at approximately 3:17 p.m. ET
WHERE: Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt tri-oval located in Kansas City, Kansas
FAVORITES: Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch (11/4) and Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick (6/1)


LAST YEAR’S WINNER

Kevin Harvick won the Hollywood Casino 400 one year ago this weekend for his fourth win of the season and his second at Kansas Speedway. The victory gave him an automatic bid to the Round of 8. Harvick, who was on the bubble in 12th in the points standings entering Kansas, led 70 laps in his No. 4.


THE FIELD

Martin Truex Jr. won his third pole of the season and the 15th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career with a lap of 188.029 mph (28.719 seconds) around the 1.5-mile tri-oval when qualifying concluded on Friday afternoon. Kevin Harvick will roll off second, with a Joe Gibbs Racing trio of Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez rounding out the top five qualifiers.

Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 10 starters, with Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson starting in 11th and 12th, respectively. Other playoff contenders will roll off when the green flag flies as follows: Kyle Larson in 13th,  Chase Elliott in 14th, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 24th and Ryan Blaney in 40th (dead last) after his original time of fourth-place was disallowed due to a failed inspection.

Qualifying this weekend was especially important, because it determines the selection of pit stalls for next weekend’s Round of 8 opening race at Martinsville Speedway.


THE BUBBLE

Going in, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are on the outside looking in when it comes to advancing to the next round. Being the final race of the Round of 12, these four drivers are looking to insert themselves into the Round of 8 for the title.

Busch has had a hit-or-miss track record at Kansas. He has five top fives and seven top 10’s in 17 career starts at the Midwest track. Prior to his only win at Kansas last season, he had been struggling to even finish races. But with Toyota’s speed throughout the season, Busch (as well as Kenseth) should have good shots at winning. McMurray and Stenhouse Jr. have to win.


PREDICTION

As stated this week on Victory Lane, this feels like a Kyle Busch, back against the proverbial wall, type of weekend. I think the No. 18 has a “Rowdy” race (see what I did there?) and wins in order to lock himself into the next round and keep his quest for his second championship alive.