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September 8, 2023

Bubble Watch: No place like a Kansas playoff race

Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell race
Tim Nwachukwu
Getty Images

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs roll on this Sunday at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App) in the midpoint of the Round of 16.

The Sunflower State oval has been known to create playoff drama and heartbreak and this weekend should be no different. Before another chapter in the postseason is written, take a look at playoff drivers closest to the elimination line with analysis courtesy of Racing Insights.

RELATED: Cup playoff standings | Where playoff drivers rank after Darlington



Points above: 16

Trending: Hit or Miss

Kansas outlook — Mostly Cold: Blaney had a good race, points-wise, to open his 2023 playoff campaign at Darlington with a top-10 run. However, Kansas has been a hindrance for Blaney with four finishes outside the top 15 in the last five races. The last four top-10 runs for Blaney have all been ninth-place finishes, but he’s failed to score back-to-back top 10s in this stretch. You have to go back to Gateway in early June for the last time Blaney had back-to-back finishes like that.


Points above: 13

Trending: Snapped Cold Streak

Kansas outlook — Hot: Chastain recovered for a fifth-place finish in the Cook Out Southern 500 after falling a lap down in Stage 1. Kansas has been a great track for Chastain as he’s produced three consecutive top-10 results.


Points above: 3

Trending: Hit or Miss

Kansas outlook — Hit or Miss: It’s hard to place faith in Logano’s chances to make a deep playoff run, but if NASCAR’s Mr. Opportunistic comes through, a turnaround likely begins at Kansas. Logano owns three wins at Kansas and finished sixth there in May.


Points above: 1

Trending: Cooling Off

Kansas outlook — Hit or Miss: Bell’s Kansas results have been good for the most part. He wrecked early at the Sunflower State track in May, resulting in a last-place finish but can’t afford to suffer back-to-back mulligans if he wants to advance out of the Round of 12.



Points below: 1

Trending: Darlington Snapped Cold Streak

Kansas outlook — Hot: Wallace is the defending winner of the Kansas playoff race, which could mean this Sunday is his golden-ticket opportunity to reach the Round of 12 by defending last year’s victorious performance.


Points below: 2

Trending: Mostly Cold Recently

Kansas outlook — Cold: An unfortunate pit-road circumstance at Darlington took Harvick from a potential win and berth in the Round of 12 to still below the elimination line and heading to a track where he hasn’t scored a top-10 finish in the Next Gen car.


Points below: 4

Trending: Cold

Kansas outlook — Mostly Cold: Stenhouse recovered decently after a Stage 1 speeding penalty on pit road at Darlington to score a point in Stage 2 and finish 16th. One may not see Kansas as a Stenhouse specialty, but the No. 47 Chevrolet has had sneaky speed on the oval with a top 10 last season and a 12th-place run in May.


Points below: 19

Trending: Win or Bust

Kansas outlook — Cold: Darlington was the race McDowell needed to be good at to have a fighting chance to reach the Round of 12. He’s never finished better than 13th in 24 career Kansas starts, so don’t expect to see McDowell gain on the elimination line when the checkered flag waves Sunday.