Toto, I have a feeling we’re back in Kansas

Kansas Speedway is waiting for you.

As if this weekend wasn’t chaotic enough with the NTT IndyCar Series Finals in Laguna Seca, Formula 1 is also running on Sunday (September 11) and will take all three NASCAR divisions to the Kansas Oval 1.5 miles over three days.

Each field bound for Kansas is in a different setting: the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in a cut-off race in the first playoff; The NASCAR Xfinity Series is in its penultimate race of the regular season with plenty of watershed spots to grab; And the NASCAR Cup Series is in the middle of its first round, coming off Eric Jones’ surprise win at Darlington Raceway and with the chaos of Bristol Motor Speedway looming next week.

It should be noted that this is the only normal race in the first round of the Post-Season Cup, but all three driver groups have things to prove. Let’s break all this down.

Trucks (Friday, September 9, 7:30 p.m. ET)

After appointments at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and Richmond Raceway, the two truck drivers were locked up for the next round, two below the cut-off line, and six left in the midst of a playoff battle.

My colleague Beth Lunkenheimer Summarize all scenarios in Thursday Trakin, so that’s going to be brief, but a disqualification still looms for two drivers. She also said that the series appears to have had “6,000 years of hiatus,” something I can’t disagree with after nearly a month of no truck traffic.

Grant Infinger and Chandler Smith are already locked in via wins at IRP and Richmond, respectively; He’s finished first in the top five in both playoff races so far and is hot in time, while Smith drove 176 of 250 laps in Richmond on his way to his third dominant win of the season.

There are deciding positions outside the outright win for many of those not locked up, but there is an interesting mix of drivers in the playoff purgatory. Jon Hunter Nemeczyk cooled off after a five-race campaign in 2021, with just one win to his name this year, while Zane Smith scored three wins in his first eight races in 2022 but hasn’t won yet…well, KS. That was almost a full four months ago, but the 38th seed has finished in the top 10 in 15 of the 18 races so far this season.

None of the ThorSport Racing’s playoff quartet is safe just yet. Semi-backpacker Ty Majeski hasn’t won a race in one of NASCAR’s top three Tour tiers, but he has put a solid 2022 in, scoring 12 of the Top 10s and currently sitting fifth on the qualifying field. Matt Crafton’s quiet 2022 drove him past the season, but he’s riding the cut streak and the good side of it…for now. The 88th seed went into the victory lane in Race Two of the Kansas Series with a double-header in mid-2020, earning his third win overall on the track.

ThorSporters Ben Rhodes and Christian Eckes are ranked seventh and tenth, respectively. Rhodes is, oddly enough, a veteran of the field despite being only 25 years old. The defending champion has had a solid year so far but only one win. Eckes has yet to visit Al Nasr lane in 2022 and is sitting in the post-season points vault.

Stuart Friesen and Carson Hocevar represent each team’s only entry into the qualifier, a first with Halmar Friesen Racing. Hocevar, nicknamed Mr. Oh-So-Close on multiple occasions in 2022, completed Hocevar 242 laps, the fourth of all drivers this year, but he finished second twice as well as several other races in which number 42 seemed to have a chance. in winning.

The uncertainty about the truck chain’s visit to Kansas reflects the odd season the department has experienced; Only 10 of the 18 races so far have been won by the regulars. The other eight are won by top-series hackers (William Byron, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and Todd Gilliland each have one win) or drivers running part-time schedules (Corey Heim twice, Ryan Price and Parker Kligerman once each). There were six races, for about two months when the full-timer didn’t go to the victory lane of the series.

Even though these boys may be too young to sing the blues, two drivers will be outside looking at on a Friday night.

Previous industry winners: Crafton (three wins: 2013, 2015, 2020); Zane Smith (1 win: 2022)

Expected eliminations: Aix, Crafton

Xfinity (Friday, September 10, 3 p.m. ET)

So far, seven of the 12 cut-off points have been filled in. We won’t worry about these guys.

What matters is the five points remaining — yes, five, now that Jeremy Clements’ Daytona International Speedway win has been rescinded after a dismantling at the R&D center. This dropped him from qualifying unless the #51 holder could win another race or appeal the penalty.

in The qualifiers currently have five drivers: Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemrick, Ryan Sieg and Landon Cassel.

No previous KS winner is looking for a post-season berth, as previous winners Ty Gibbs and Brandon Jones are already booked out. Sieg and Meyer both finished in the top ten there last year, though the latter is looking to become the fourth and final JR Motorsports final car in the qualifying.

Sheldon Creed secured an imminent victory in Darlington last week as he struggled hard for the win but ultimately failed. Myatt Snider scored a top-10 in Kansas last year and is 16th, four places out of the postseason. Anthony Alfredo ended up on his Kansas rooftop two years ago but is mired in 15th in points.

Similar to the Cup, Kansas feels these drivers have the best chance to cement their spot in the points. Bristol will be in absolute chaos, as if the end of last year’s night race between AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric wasn’t enough.

Drivers Predictions for the Playoff: Mayer, Heimrick, Cassell, Herbst, Creed

Trophy (Sunday, September 11; 3 p.m. ET)

Before we say goodbye to Yellow Brick Road, the main event for the weekend is set for Sunday.

I currently have the same knowledge about KS that I do with Xfinity, just from an in-game mentality: Bristol is going to be an absolute mess, especially with non-playoff winner Eric Jones last week.

Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott suffered a major misfortune early on when they crashed at Darlington Raceway. Briscoe is still below the cut-off line and Elliott slipped from first to ninth in the standings.

There is a level of confidence in both the Trackhouse Racing Team cars, Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, to move on to the next turn, but number 99 sits on the cutting line.

Kansas has been the site of some strange, violent incidents in the past five years: Eric Almerola’s injury and Jones airborne crash in 2017, William Byron’s ride on top of Ryan Newman’s car in 2018 and Bryce’s massive impact and Alfredo’s coup in 2020.

Six of the top 10 spring riders were current drivers in the playoffs, with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch leading the title contenders back in May. Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell rounded out the top five at the time, which bodes well for the Toyota camp in need of cementing a place in the next round.

Chastain also scored in the Top 10, as did Bowman, both of whom could use great running after cooling off in the back half of the regular season.

Biggest spoiler? It’s likely Martin Truex Jr., whose absence from qualifying still seems a bit odd.

The #19 driver has 15 of the top 10 in Kansas and a pair of wins, making him the prime suspect in the win and increasing the likelihood that NASCAR will head to Bristol with number Drivers who entered the round of 12.

Elimination Round of 16: Briscoe, Austin Dillon, Austin Cendrick, Alex Bowman


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