Bubba Wallace Wins NASCAR Playoff Race at Kansas Speedway

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Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS — September 11, 2022

With just two races to go in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 16, tensions are rising as none of the 16 drivers in the postseason have locked themselves into the next round. Michigan’s Erik Jones, the first non-playoff driver ever to win a postseason opening race, denied the title contenders an opportunity to secure a pass to the round of 12 with his win last week at Darlington.

Currently, Team Penske’s Joey Logano holds the top spot in the Playoff standings after Regular Season Champion and No. 1 seed coming into Darlington Raceway, Chase Elliott, was in an early-race incident dropping him to ninth in the postseason points. Logano is 38 points to the good on the Round of 12 elimination, while Elliott is only 14 points above the cutline.

Four drivers are in danger of being included in the Round of 12 cuts. They are chasing Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez in the 12th and final transfer position to the next round on points, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric in 13th (-2 points), Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon in 14th (-4), and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Chase Briscoe in 15th (-10) and veteran Kevin Harvick in 16th (-13).

Today’s Race

The Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook consists of 400.5 miles around the mile and a-half tri-oval track. The 267 laps are split into Stages of 80/85/102 laps. Tyler Reddick sits on the pole, and Logano starts beside him.

Kyle Larson is the defending champion of the race. Kurt Busch won at Kansas in the spring to qualify for the playoffs. Busch is still sitting out of competition as a result of his accident at Pocono. He asked NASCAR to remove the waiver that would have allowed him to race in the postseason despite not participating in all Cup Series events.

The fuel window is in the range of 65-70 laps. NASCAR has scheduled a competition caution for after 25 laps. Rain washed all the rubber, from the weekend’s activities, off the track overnight.

Past Winners at Kansas Speedway

Based on race history at the track, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick would be the favorites to enter victory lane at the end of the day. Harvick needs a solid race to make up for his poor finish at Darlington when his car caught on fire, forcing him out of the contest.

Active Kansas Race Winners Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin 3 2020, 2019, 2012
Joey Logano 3 2020, 2015, 2014
Kevin Harvick 3 2018, 2016, 2013
Brad Keselowski 2 2019, 2011
Kyle Busch 2 2021, 2016
Martin Truex Jr 2 2017 sweep
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Chase Elliott 1 2018

 

Stage One

Joey Logano(22) got a big push from Alex Bowman(48) and took the lead into turn 1 on the opening lap. Bowman then made a pass for the lead, bringing Tyler Reddick(8) with him dropping Logano to third. Christopher Bell(20) hung close in fourth as the leaders opened some space on the remainder of the field.

Pit stops at the competition caution jumbled the leaders as Reddick was first off pit road. Followed by Bowman, Logano, Bell, and Bubba Wallace(45).

Reddick and Bowman raced side-by-side as drivers went four-wide behind them racing for positions. Kevin Harvick(4) got loose out of turn four and slammed the outside wall. Damage to the right front suspension brought the Stewart-Hass Ford Mustang to pit road with the right front wheel pointed awkwardly to the right.

Harvick retired to the garage and will now face a must-win situation next week at Bristol if he hopes to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

The driver making the biggest move in Stage one was Ryan Blaney(12) who drove from the 17th starting position to second and challenged Reddick for the top spot.

On lap 65, Reddick had a right rear tire go down causing him to hit the outside wall on the backstretch. He came to pit road and changed the right side tires.

However, Reddick had to return to the pits for further attention complaining of something loose in the right front. After inspection, it was determined the damage was too extensive to repair and Reddick became the 2nd driver eliminated from the event. Unless a rash of additional playoff drivers suffer early race incidents, it is likely Reddick will drop below the cut-line heading to Bristol.

During pit stops, Bowman had a minor collision with Chase Briscoe(14) that forced both drivers to lose time in the pits as they sorted out who had the right-of-way.

Austin Dillon(3) changed only two tires during his caution pit stop and led all drivers off the pit road. The strategy was not as profitable as Dillon hoped. He dropped to 10th in just a few laps as drivers raced for Stage points to bolster their playoff standings. Still, past experience has taught even a single point can mean the difference between advancing or not during the postseason.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 20 Christopher Bell (P) 10
2 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 9
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 8
4 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 7
5 45 Bubba Wallace (P) 6
6 9 Chase Elliott (P) 5
7 18 Kyle Busch (P) 4
8 1 Ross Chastain (P) 3
9 22 Joey Logano* (P) 2
10 3 Austin Dillon (P) 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers   (P)Playoff Drivers

Blaney had to return to pit road after his Stage ending stop due to a loose wheel causing him to lose significant track position for the start of Stage two.

Stage Two

Shortly after the race restarted, Ty Gibbs(23) was forced into the outside wall and suffered significant damage to the right front of his race car. Unable to repair the damage in the time allotted, Gibbs became the third driver to retire from the event.

After a clean restart and the battle for positions settled in, Martin Truex Jr.(19) led. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47), Bell, Kyle Busch(18), and William Byron(24) were the remainder of the top five.

On Lap 109, Stenhouse blew a right rear tire and hit the wall. The incident brought out the caution for the sixth time in the race. The timing of the yellow flag was advantageous as the field could pit within their fuel window to finish the Stage without another stop. Stenhouse’s crew was able to repair his car and keep him in the race, just multiple laps down.

During their stops Dillon, Kyle Busch(18), and Daniel Suarez(99) were all penalized and sent to the rear of the field for equipment interference when tires rolled out of their pit areas. Truex had to return to pit road to have a loose wheel tightened.

Before a lap could be completed, Aric Almirola(10), Corey LaJoie(7), Harrison Burton(21), and last week’s winner Erik Jones were all involved in an incident in turn one that brought the caution again. LaJoie and Burton took their cars to the garage.

Once the race restarted the intensity began to pick up as drivers fought for positions in the top 10. Bowman returned to the lead followed by Logano, Byron, Chase Elliott(9), and Briscoe.

With 28 laps to go in Stage Two, Kyle Busch lost control off turn four and spun into the tri-oval grass. Handling continues to be a big issue for the Cup drivers today. Busch lost a lap in the process of getting his car serviced and back onto the track.

Restarting with 22 laps to go in Stage Two it will be a quick sprint to the green and white checkered flag. With 10 laps to go, Bowman led, Bell, Byron, Elliott, and Wallace followed and Bowman held on for the Stage win. For the first time in this year’s postseason, all Stage points went to playoff drivers.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 48 Alex Bowman (P) 10
2 20 Christopher Bell (P) 9
3 24 William Byron (P) 8
4 45 Bubba Wallace (P) 7
5 9 Chase Elliott (P) 6
6 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 5
7 5 Kyle Larson (P) 4
8 22 Joey Logano* (P) 3
9 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 2
10 1 Ross Chastain (P) 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers     (P)Playoff Drivers

The Final Stage

Bowman held the lead off pit road. It was Wallace making the big jump to advance from fourth to second. Hamlin, Byron, and Bell filled out the top five.

After leading for 79 consecutive laps, Bowman surrendered the top spot to Bubba Wallace(45) with 67 laps to go. A final pit stop will be required for all the cars to make it to the finish on fuel. It may come down to who can make the cleanest stop, avoid penalties, and take care of their tires to make it to the end.

Bell also got past Bowman and began to track down the leader. Green flag pit stops started with 53 laps to go. All the leaders pitted within a couple of laps of each other to avoid giving up time on the track with worn-out tires.

Wallace stretched his advantage over Bell by a second and a half during their stops. But, once back on the track, Bell again began trimming fractions of a second off the lead interval. As the laps wound down Denny Hamlin’s car came alive and passed Bell to move into second place.

With 10 laps to go, Wallace held a two-second lead on his team owner Denny Hamlin and the gap was narrowing.

Wallace held off his boss and became the second non-playoff driver to win in consecutive weeks of the 2022 playoffs. He is also the 18th different winner in the Cup Series this year.

Playoff Standings

Rank Car Driver Points Status Playoff Points
1 20 Christopher Bell 2108 +58 12
2 24 William Byron 2098 +48 15
3 11 Denny Hamlin 2097 +47 13
4 22 Joey Logano* 2090 +40 25
5 12 Ryan Blaney* 2086 +36 13
6 48 Alex Bowman 2080 +30 7
7 9 Chase Elliott 2078 +28 40
8 5 Kyle Larson 2077 +27 19
9 1 Ross Chastain 2076 +26 20
10 99 Daniel Suarez 2056 +6 7
11 8 Tyler Reddick 2052 +2 12
12 2 Austin Cindric* 2052 +2 6
Round of 16 Cut Line
13 18 Kyle Busch 2050 -2 11
14 3 Austin Dillon 2049 -3 5
15 14 Chase Briscoe* 2043 -9 9
16 4 Kevin Harvick* 2017 -35 12

*Ford Mustang Drivers

 

Christopher Bell earned enough points in the first two races of the round to lock himself into the next round of the playoffs. Kevin Harvick must score a win at Bristol if he is to advance to the Round of 12. The top nine in the standings are likely to advance. The battle for positions 10 through 12 will fall to Daniel Suarez, Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, and Chase Briscoe.

 

Results of the Hollywood Casino 400 from Kansas Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 45 Bubba Wallace (P) 267
2 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 1.000 267
3 20 Christopher Bell (P) 3.718 267
4 48 Alex Bowman (P) 13.516 267
5 19 Martin Truex Jr. 13.851 267
6 24 William Byron (P) 17.240 267
7 1 Ross Chastain (P) 17.984 267
8 5 Kyle Larson (P) 20.143 267
9 12 Ryan Blaney (P) 20.586 267
10 99 Daniel Suarez (P) 20.658 267
11 9 Chase Elliott (P) 21.198 267
12 2 Austin Cindric (P) 27.341 267
13 14 Chase Briscoe (P) 27.556 267
14 3 Austin Dillon (P) 30.493 267
15 17 Chris Buescher 31.644 267
16 34 Michael McDowell 32.309 267
17 22 Joey Logano (P) -1 266
18 16 Noah Gragson -1 266
19 31 Justin Haley -1 266
20 42 Ty Dillon -1 266
21 10 Aric Almirola -1 266
22 41 Cole Custer -1 266
23 38 Todd Gilliland -1 266
24 77 Landon Cassill -1 266
25 6 Brad Keselowski -1 266
26 18 Kyle Busch (P) -2 265
27 51 Cody Ware -2 265
28 15 JJ Yeley -3 264
29 43 Erik Jones -3 264
30 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -5 262
31 78 BJ McLeod -5 262
32 21 Harrison Burton -152 115
33 7 Corey LaJoie -153 114
34 23 Ty Gibbs -177 90
35 8 Tyler Reddick (P) -200 67
36 4 Kevin Harvick (P) -234 33

(P)Playoff Driver