NASCAR Contender Round Begins At Hollywood Casino 400

NASCAR Sprint Cup Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images) /

Kevin Harvick will roll his Stewart-Haas Chevrolet into Kansas for the Hollywood Casino 400, and looking to defend his 2013 title. The Kansas Speedway will host the first race in the new chase format’s Contender Round when the green flag drops on the fourth race in the chase for the 2014 Sprint Cup title on October 5th.

Harvick won the 2013 race as a member of  Richard Childress Racing, but moved to Stewart-Hass during NASCAR’s silly season. He won the 5-Hour Energy 500 back in April and with Dover to be run this weekend, is currently in third place in the Chase standings.

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  • So far, during the 2014 Chase, the Penske Team Fords have dominated the field with wins by Brad Keselowski at Chicagoland, and Joey Logano at New Hampshire on Sunday.

    Kevin Harvick has run strong in both races, leading laps early, but not being in position to close the deal at the checkered flag. He has been unable to win a Sprint Cup Championship since being pressed into service at this level after the death of Dale Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500. His move to Stewart-Haas was in search of that title.

    Don’t look now, but Jimmie Johnson is starting to gain some momentum as the Chase continues. The six-time champion has continued to move up since the chase started, and is currently in fourth place, just 17 points behind leader, Brad Keselowski.

    He sits only 10 points behind number three, Harvick, and is entering the strength of his schedule. Johnson has always been strong on the mile and a half tri-ovals like Kansas Speedway, and I wouldn’t count him out of this championship yet.

    Johnson joins Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, and boss, Tony Stewart as the only two-time winners at this event.

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    Kansas Speedway is a 1.5 mile tri-oval, and is owned by International Speedway Corporation. It has an asphalt surface with 17 and 20 degrees banking in the corners, 9-11 degrees on the front stretch, and 5 degrees on the back straightway.

    They broke ground on the track in 1999, and opened the doors in 2001.

    Kevin Harvick owns the track qualifying record when he turned in a lap at 194.658 MPH in May of this year, and Denny Hamlin holds the race record when he averaged 144.022 MPH in his Federal Express Toyota during the spring race in 2012.

    NASCAR’s new chase format has eliminations at certain intervals. Sixteen drivers started the chase, and by the time they reach Kansas, four will be eliminated, and only 12 will have an opportunity to win the Sprint Cup title.

    By the time they reach Miami-Homestead in November, there will be only four drivers who are eligible for the championship. This should produce some hard racing at Kansas, and really, every stop during the chase becomes  must win, or finish high events.

    It’s time to go Racing in Kansas!