Kansas playoff race 101: Round of 16 update, trends to watch, how to follow action


A general view at Kansas
Meg Oliphant
Getty Images

Last Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway was another race to remember after bedlam in the Final Stage crafted more questions than answers in the Cup Series Round of 16.

With Kansas Speedway on the horizon, the goal for playoff drivers will be a clean afternoon to either have a healthy gap heading to the elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway or win and not have to worry about points racing on the short track. Before Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App), take a look at the top story lines entering Kansas, trends to watch at the 1.5-mile oval and interactive ways to follow all the action this weekend.

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RELATED: See paint schemes for Kansas | Betting favorites for Sunday’s Cup race

PROVING GROUND FOR 23XI RACING 📍

Entering the Kansas playoff race last season, Tyler Reddick held a 32-point gap above the Round of 12 elimination line. He appeared to have the dominant car early in the Sunflower State until wrecking late in Stage 1 set Reddick up to be eliminated in the Round of 16 for a second-consecutive season at Bristol.

Reddick is in similar territory entering Sunday as he’s 30 points above the elimination line after a runner-up finish at Darlington. Toyota has dominated on speed in recent Cup events at Kansas, and this weekend should be no different. Reddick’s teammate Bubba Wallace is the defending winner of the Kansas playoff race and had a great top-10 run at Darlington to pull himself just one point from the top 12.

A mistake-free day for Reddick and Wallace could mean two spots potentially secured in the next round for all 23XI Racing.

📉 TRENDS TO WATCH 📈

— Toyota has won the last three Kansas races.

— Four of the last five Kansas winners got their first win of the season.

— 37 lead changes at Kansas in the spring set a track record.

— The race winner started in the top 10 for the last seven Kansas races.

(Via Racing Insights)

CLASSIC KANSAS SPEEDWAY RACES 🎥

2001: Jeff Gordon wins inaugural Kansas race | WATCH

2004: Joe Nemechek, Ricky Rudd battle for win in closing laps | WATCH

2015: Logano spins Kenseth late to amplify playoff drama | WATCH

ON-TRACK SCHEDULE 🗓️

Saturday, September 9

— Noon ET: Practice (USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App)

— 12:45 p.m. ET: Qualifying (USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App)

Sunday, September 10

— 3 p.m., ET: Hollywood Casino 400 (USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App)

MORE: Full weekend schedule at Kansas

RULE CHANGES/GOODYEAR TIRE NOTES 🛞

The GEICO Restart Zone returned to its 2022 dimensions after being extended for this season’s first five races.

Cup teams will run the same tire setup that was used at Kansas in May. Goodyear will allot one set of tires to teams for practice, one for qualifying and an additional eight sets for Sunday’s race.

NASCAR implemented safety updates to the Next Gen car.

Along the right-side door bars and extending toward the rear clip, teams are mandated to run a steel plate in addition to the chassis adjustments made for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The right-side door bar gussets and the removal of the front clip V-brace are changes that remain, in addition to the removal of other front-clip components, to create a softer and larger crush zone for frontal impacts.

Also included in the updates are front bumper strut softening (modifications to existing parts), the requirement of an empty front ballast box and a modified cross brace. NASCAR incurs the cost of all these updates.

In the event of a lost wheel that is contained to pit road, the offending team will be subject to a pass-through penalty under green-flag conditions. If the infraction occurs during a caution period, the offending team will restart at the tail end of the field.

If the wheel breaks free outside of pit road, the new rules guidelines mandate a two-lap penalty plus a two-race suspension for two crew members. Each penalty is series-specific: Violations in one series will not impact those crew members’ eligibility to participate in other series.

RELATED: See rules changes for 2023

FAN REWARDS 🫵

Fans can get in on the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for participating in the action when they watch races and play NASCAR Fantasy.

There’s no cost to join. Fans must be 18 years or older to participate in the program.

Earn points by checking into a race from home or at the track, setting your Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases on the NASCAR.com shop and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and waving the green flag at qualifying.

JOIN TODAY

FOLLOW THE RACE 📲

NASCAR Mobile has now added support for fans to “Follow the Race” and access live leaderboard and race information from Live Activities in the current app release (v13.2.0), available now. Android users, we didn’t forget you — the same functionality has been custom-built for Android devices, as well.

How to access Live Activities on iPhones:

  1. Make sure your iOS device has been updated to 16.1 or higher.
  2. Available on the leaderboard of all NASCAR Series races.
  3. Click on the three-dot menu near the top right of screen.
  4. Select “Follow the Race.”
  5. Swipe up to access the home screen and you will see the Live Activities at the top.
  6. Lock the device and you will see Live Activities on the Lock Screen.
  7. To turn off, simply visit the leaderboard, click the three-dot menu and “Unfollow the Race.”

FANTASY LIVE 🏆

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which resets for the playoffs. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $10,000 prize for the winner.

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!

PLAYOFFS GRID CHALLENGE 🏆

During the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, fans have the opportunity to compete in The Playoffs Grid™ Challenge presented by Ruoff Mortage. Fans can enter by visiting The Playoffs Grid™ Challenge page beginning Tuesday, Aug. 29 and registering for a free NASCAR.com account before filling out a bracket. From there, choose from a list of playoff-eligible drivers round by round, and you’re on your way to compete for prizes!

How to play: Playoffs Grid Challenge | Set your grid today!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM 💻

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.

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