The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 rolls on with the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) is the final one this season running the low-horsepower, high-downforce handling package.
This 1.5-mile oval, like Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, has limited tire falloff over the course of a long green-flag run. The track’s known for some quirky finishes, from Greg Biffle winning in 2007 despite not crossing the line first to Joey Logano’s spin-to-win over Matt Kenseth in 2015.
Track position is crucial here, especially with the longest stage just 107 laps, bringing different pit strategies into play. A quick stop can make all the difference; just ask Logano. He won a bid into the Championship 4 simply by beating Kevin Harvick off pit road during the final caution.
Luckily for the Round of 8 drivers, all of them get to start out front barring any failures in pre-race inspection. NASCAR’s off-track qualifying rules are in effect which guarantee the championship-eligible drivers start inside the top 8.
Here’s how NASCAR calculates its qualifying metric.
50% of the metric is based on finishing position from the previous race (split between driver and owner).
35% of the metric is the team’s current position in the NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings.
15% of the metric is based on the team’s fastest lap during the previous race.
The team with the lowest total starts on the pole, then the next lowest, etc. until the starting grid is complete. It’s how NASCAR is trying to limit track time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forty cars are entered at Kansas, giving this race a full field. All 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are here along with four “open” cars: the No. 37 of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece), the No. 13 of MBM Motorsports (David Starr) the No. 66 of MBM Motorsports (Chad Finchum) and the No. 96 of Gaunt Brothers Racing (Parker Kligerman).
Open cars are not guaranteed a starting position and, when more than 40 cars show up, can fail to qualify for an event.
1. Kyle Larson (P)
2. Ryan Blaney (P)
3. Brad Keselowski (P)
4. Kyle Busch (P)
5. Chase Elliott (P)
6. Denny Hamlin (P)
7. Martin Truex Jr. (P)
8. Joey Logano (P)
9. William Byron
10. Christopher Bell
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Tyler Reddick
13. Kurt Busch
14. Austin Dillon
15. Matt DiBenedetto
16. Daniel Suarez
17. Erik Jones
18. Michael McDowell
19. Chase Briscoe (R)
20. Aric Almirola
21. Chris Buescher
22. Cole Custer
23. Corey LaJoie
24. Ross Chastain
25. Alex Bowman
26. BJ McLeod (i)
27. Bubba Wallace
28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
29. Anthony Alfredo (R)
30. Josh Bilicki (i)
31. Ryan Newman
32. Ryan Preece
33. Justin Haley (i)
34. Ryan Ellis (i)
35. Quin Houff
36. Cody Ware (i)
37. Chad Finchum (i)
38. David Starr (i)
39. Joey Gase (i)
40. Parker Kligerman (i)
(P) – Playoff driver
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Kyle Larson (pole) starts up front for the second straight race and 10th time overall this season. Larson has already clinched a spot in the Championship 4 because of his win at Texas last week.
- Ryan Blaney (second) is the highest-qualifying Ford. Blaney has never won a race at this track and hasn’t run inside the top 5 here in four years.
- Kyle Busch (fourth) is the highest-qualifying Toyota. Busch won the spring race at Kansas back in May.
- Joey Logano (eighth) is the defending winner of this race.
- Kevin Harvick (11th) was second here last fall. Harvick remains winless after a NASCAR-best nine victories last season.
- Chase Briscoe (19th) is the highest-qualifying Cup rookie.
- BJ McLeod (26th) earned his best starting spot of the season in the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford.
- Ryan Ellis (34th) replaces Garrett Smithley in the No. 15 Rick Ware Motorsports Chevrolet. It will be Ellis’ first Cup start since November 2016 at Texas.
- Chad Finchum (37th) is making his second Cup start of the season with MBM Motorsports, running their No. 66 Ford while David Starr (38th) moves to the No. 13, replacing Timmy Hill.
- Parker Kligerman (40th) returns to Gaunt Brothers Racing to make his first Cup start since November 2019 at Texas.
NASCAR Race Breakdown
Race: Hollywood Casino 400
Track: Kansas Speedway (Kansas City, Kan.)
Date: Sunday, October 24
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 267 laps (400 miles)
Stage 1: 80 Laps
Stage 2: 80 Laps
Final Stage: 107 Laps
Parker Kligerman visits the Frontstretch Podcast to chat about how he’s balancing his TV and racing career. Will he be running Cup on a more regular basis in 2022? Then, host Davey Segal and company turn toward Kansas and who might emerge from seven potential title contenders to join Kyle Larson as a winner heading into the Championship 4.