The “Lady in Black” put on a show last week and gave a win to a non-playoff driver, Erik Jones. Seeing the #43 car back in victory lane was a sight to behold; however, with Jones winning, no playoff drivers are currently locked into the playoffs. No one is safe from the cutoff just yet. That said, the drivers and teams are looking forward to Kansas. The spring Kansas race saw Kurt Busch take the win in dominating fashion; however, with him out from a concussion, Kansas could see a new winner or a playoff driver locking themselves in.
Kansas is the second of three races in the Round of 16; this is how the playoff standings look after Darlington.
- Joey Logano
- William Byron
- Denny Hamlin
- Christopher Bell
- Tyler Reddick
- Ryan Blaney
- Kyle Larson
- Ross Chastain
- Chase Elliott
- Alex Bowman
- Kyle Busch
- Daniel Suarez
_____________________ Cutoff Line
- Austin Cindric
- Austin Dillon
- Chase Briscoe
- Kevin Harvick
Darlington was kind to some of the playoff drivers, not others; Chase Elliott was one of the very unlucky drivers, crashing out early and hurting his championship hunt. Denny Hamlin had a great run at Darlington, and Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr; however, Busch and Truex were both victims of blown engines late in the race. In other news, North Wilkesboro is coming back for 2023 and will host the All-Star Race. This announcement is something that the fans have been waiting for, and with the success of the race track revival, I would expect a sold-out crowd for the All-Star race next year. With some housekeeping out of the way, who could we expect to run well at Kansas? Who are my top five picks for the Hollywood Casino 400?
- Denny Hamlin: He has shown out the gate he has the team and car to win. He was very fast at Darlington, much of Joe Gibbs was. As he finished 2nd to Erik Jones, he and his team know they can win, so they might push harder this week to get that win and lock themselves in.
- William Byron: Kind of shocked to put him here, but he proved early he had speed at Darlington and had that engine issue not occurred, he may have got more points toward the playoffs; much like Hamlin, he and his team know they have the car and talent to get into the next round. Byron had an incredible recovery drive last Sunday; let us see if he can take advantage of fresh equipment and run for a win.
- Joey Logano: The current leader in the playoff standings and coming off a solid top 5 run, Logano could be a very good pick for Kansas. He has won here in the past, and he could easily lock himself into the playoffs here.
- Chase Elliott: After a disastrous race, Chase and the #9 team may be looking to forget that Darlington even happened. I look for Chase to rebound at Kansas and prove that his summer dominance is still here. He may be 9th in the playoffs, but that does not mean he will fold this early.
- Kyle Busch: Despite having a blown engine at Darlington, Busch was one of the fastest cars on track, and the stats show it. He led the most laps and proved to be a favorite. With contract talks seeming to close and a possible announcement imminent, Busch may be a force to be reckoned with this playoffs. Look for him to do well at Kansas.
Let’s go racing! The Hollywood Casino 400 will be aired on the USA at 3 pm EST, and be sure to catch the Xfinity race Saturday at 3 pm EST on the USA for the Kansas Lottery 300. Will a playoff driver lock themselves in, or will an outsider get a win out from under the playoff drivers? We will have to watch and find out.