Kevin Harvick defends his status as NASCAR‘s most “clutch” driver, winning the Hollywood Casino 400. The victory in Kansas locks Harvick into the Round of Eight in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Following a 38th place finish in Charlotte, a win at Kansas proved to be a must for the No. 4 team. With the victory, Harvick continues his distinction of having never been eliminated from the Chase. As Kevin Harvick wins Kansas, the Chase moves to the hectic and unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway.
Kevin Harvick Wins Kansas, Secures Spot in Round of Eight
Close Call Carl
Carl Edwards celebrates Kansas as his hometown track. Edwards wants desparately to win in Kansas, and the Hollywood Casino 400 may have been his best chance. Leading 61 laps and boasting the fastest car on the track, Edwards lost the lead to Harvick with 30 laps remaining. Towards the race’s conclusion, Edwards lead a hard drive past teammate Kyle Busch. However, Edwards would settle for second, his career-best finish at his home track. The bridesmaid finish is a heartbreaker for Edwards, who told NASCAR.com pre-race: “Just the idea of winning here in front of all the people who have supported me so much, that would be huge.”
Chase Elliott Heartbreak
Chase Elliott appears long overdue for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, and that streak continues. The entirety of Hendrick Motorsports has been struggling in 2016. However, a Jimmie Johnson victory, followed by Elliott’s performance in Kansas, and it appeared that the Hendrick drivers were back in business. Unfortunately for Elliott, leading with a very strong car, tire issues would plague the remainder of the 24 team’s weekend. Despite being on pace for his first victory, Elliott would finish 31 following multiple tire rub issues. Post-race, Elliott told NASCAR.com: “(We will) just go there and race our hearts out and try to win, I guess. That’s all you can do.” As Kevin Harvick wins Kansas, Edwards and the entire 19 team are left wondering what could have been had there been a caution or even another mile.
Talladega Preview and Chase Bubble
The last thing any driver wants is to have to rely on the most chaotic racetrack to secure their spot in the Round of Eight. However, this is exactly what the Chase has brought, and it rings true for many drivers. Neither Harvick nor Johnson have any worries with their victories in the first two races of the Round of Twelve. Currently Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Austin Dillon are on the outside looking in for the Round of Eight. Considering the nature of Talladega, each of these drivers have a chance to move on to the next round. Hamlin is in this position after put road penalties in Kansas. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was also involved in an accident with Keselowski, resulting in his difficult position entering Talladega.
Ultimately, no drivers, other than Johnson or Harvick, are in comfortable positions going into Talladega. The next NASCAR race will decide the next round of the Chase, and is a must-watch. By the looks of the current standings, there will be major upsets in the final Chase bracket.
Chase for the Sprint Cup Standings
- Jimmie Johnson
- Matt Kenseth
- Kyle Busch
- Carl Edwards
- Kurt Busch
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
- Austin Dillon
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Keselowski
- Chase Elliott