Three of the four drivers below the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cutline are from Hendrick Motorsports.
Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and William Byron along with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer need to find a way above the line in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 or they’ll be eliminated from the playoffs.
Bowman is ninth in the standings and 18 out of the final spot. He finished second in Kansas in the May race and brings a great deal of optimism into this weekend after his May performance.
“I can’t wait to get to Kansas this weekend,” Bowman said. “I feel like I gave that one away in the spring. I know that car we are taking there is really good. That’s one of my favorite tracks, regardless of everything.
“I am looking forward to getting there and it definitely is a race that puts on a great show. This track is probably the best place to showcase the current rules package.”
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Elliott has suffered through two challenging races to open up the Round of 12. He had an engine failure to open the round at Dover and last week at Talladega Elliott was able to finish eighth after being involved in a multi-car accident. As a result he needs to make up 22 points in order to stay alive.
“We are going to head out to Kansas and try to get a win,” he said. “That’s about all we can do now. We just have to have the mindset to go out there and control what we can control and do everything we can to get a win.
Elliott is the defending race winner.
“I feel as confident going there as I do anywhere,” he said. “Just going to hope for the best. That’s all we can do.”
Byron, who qualified third and finished 20th at Kansas in May, is at the bottom of the standings. The second year driver is 27 out of the playoff picture and is hoping to build on what he believes was a solid spring Kansas weekend despite the final finishing position.
But he’s not sure what to expect.
“I think it will be interesting to see how things play out with how our mile-and-half packages have evolved just throughout the year; whether it continues that trend this weekend or whether it reverts back to how it was in the spring at Kansas,” Byron said.
“I’m just interested to see how that is since the cars have come a long way since that race. I’m also interested to see with it being an elimination race, I think it will open things up for different strategies. It’s a bit of an unknown at this point.”