Kansas Is 2023 Play Off Race Two   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Here’s something I bet you already know… the pressure is on again this weekend at Kansas Speedway. After last weekend’s difficulties, several of the playoff competitors are looking to make up for their shortcomings at Darlington. I mean let’s face it. Darlington was tough on a bunch of the playoff drivers and teams and some have very little hope of making it to the round of twelve if they have another weekend like they had last weekend.

Similar to last weekend, the Toyotas appear to have unloaded off the trucks once again with speed. Christopher Bell did win the pole – just as he did last weekend – and he definitely is one that hopes Kansas doesn’t turn out like Darlington. After all, he did start on the pole last weekend and he did lead over thirty laps in the first stage and the things began to fall apart. He ended up having a very bad day even though it looked very promising at the start.

Another Toyota team that hopes to have much better success than they had last weekend would be the number nineteen team of Martin Truex Jr. In fact, I would go so far as to say, he didn’t just have a bad day, especially considering how he had been running in the weeks before that, he had a terrible day. He was unexpectedly absent from the top of the field for a lot of the day. I’m not saying he won’t make a better showing this weekend than last but, I will say he can’t really afford to have a bad day. He did qualify third for the start of this one but, if the has a bad day again, well… let’s just say he would be on the verge of being a regular season Champion that didn’t make it to round two in the playoffs.

To round out this talk about the JGR Toyotas for Kansas would be the number eleven of Denny Hamlin. So far as qualifying, he struggled to be starting in the fourteenth position. This isn’t just my opinion but I am sure he isn’t happy to be in the middle of the pack, but it does appear he is confident he won’t be staying that far back for the entire race. But if he does, or even worse, he might just have a lot more work to do even though he had a very fast car last weekend and is starting in a bad spot for someone that wants to continue on in the playoffs. No panic for him yet but, things do have a way of not going the way a driver would really like at Kansas.

That brings me to the other two Toyotas driven by Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Of the two, Tyler qualified best of the two 23xi teams but Bubba did look to be fast and could be at or near the front when the laps wind down. He did win last year, didn’t he?

If you’ve been paying attention to the Toyotas at Kansas over the last several years, they have been running really strong and have won a lot of recent races there. There are five of the six Toyotas in the top fifteen and four of them are starting in the top ten. If things go as they have in recent races at Kansas for them, it could be another dominating day for Toyota.

Michael McDowell is the only Ford qualified in the top ten. If any one of the remaining playoff drivers needs a good day at Kansas, it would be him. Last weekend at Darlington was a disaster for him and, it almost goes without saying, he just about needs a win to make it to round two of the playoffs. That isn’t his only chance but even he admits he probably needs a little help from some of the other playoff drivers having bad days like he did last weekend.

Last week’s winner, Kyle Larson, starts on the front row with pole winner, Christopher Bell. Since the favorite and fastest way around the Kansas Speedway is right up next to the wall much like Darlington, he could be a two-in-a-row possibility for winning this one. Of course he will have a lot of company running up next to the wall and there are several fast competitors that are good at running up there with him.

Do I need to even mention their names? Yeah, I guess I should. Pole sitter, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick – (last week’s second place finisher behind Larson), Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and several others. If everyone knows up against the wall is the fastest way around the track, passing could be a real experience for this four-hundred-mile race.

Only one of all the drivers can afford to have problems today at Kansas and, of course, that would be Kyle Larson but, I am sure he could be one of the ones that wants to win the most today. If he does, would that make a statement about how the final four might stack up at Phoenix? Yeah, it probably would but… that’s still a long way off and there are several others that want to win today at Kansas as much or more than he does. From my view, it should be an interesting, aggressive and intense Hollywood Casino 400…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 10, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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