RELATED: Keselowski lands Coors Light Pole Award " Practice 2 results " Final practice results Jimmie Johnson soared to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series speed charts in Saturday afternoon's final practice at Kansas Speedway . Johnson logged a session-best lap of 188.983 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, upending pole-starter Brad Keselowski 's bid for a perfect weekend at the 1.5-mile track. Johnson, eliminated early from title contention, will start 21st in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs' Contender Round. Keselowski settled for second-fastest in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford, posting a lap of 188.930 mph, just eight thousandths of a second off Johnson's top time. The 2012 series champ won the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying and led the first two practices before Saturday's final session. Denny Hamlin was third-fastest, just ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth . Joey Logano -- who has already clinched his spot in the Eliminator Round by winning the Contender opener last week at Charlotte -- completed the top five in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. Kevin Harvick , the Sprint Cup Series defending champion, was 18th-fastest overall in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Final practice positions for the rest of the championship-eligible Chase drivers: Carl Edwards (sixth), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (ninth), Martin Truex Jr . (10th), Ryan Newman (11th), Kurt Busch (16th), Kyle Busch (24th) and Jeff Gordon (29th). Hamlin sat atop the five-lap average heap, followed by Johnson, Truex, Keselowski and Kenseth. In the 10-lap-average category, Johnson led, followed by Truex, Kasey Kahne , Kenseth and Harvick. Keselowski shows the way in second practice Coors Light Pole Award winner Brad Keselowski backed up his Friday show of speed by rocketing to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Saturday in second practice at Kansas Speedway . Keselowski clocked a lap of 189.960 mph in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford. He will start first in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the fifth race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "The track is changing," Keselowski said. "Today it's a lot cooler than it's supposed to be tomorrow. We know the grooves and all of that is going to change, so we have some speed but we have to keep working on it because you're gonna see comers and goers as the track changes and we don't want to be a goer. We want to be one of those guys that comes to the front and stays in the front, so we've got to keep working." Matt Kenseth , who sits in the Chase basement after a trouble-filled race last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway , turned the second-fastest lap at 189.215 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Joey Logano , the defending race winner at Kansas and last week's winner at Charlotte, was third-best at 189.062 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. A pair of part-time Sprint Cup drivers closed out the top five in the 55-minute session. Ryan Blaney was fourth-fastest (188.910 mph) in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Brian Scott recovered from a mid-practice spin on pit road entry to post the fifth-best lap at 188.897 mph. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was ninth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Practice positions for the rest of the title-eligible Chase drivers: Martin Truex Jr . (sixth), Denny Hamlin (eighth), Ryan Newman (10th), Kurt Busch (16th), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (17th), Kyle Busch (20th), Carl Edwards (22nd) and Jeff Gordon (28th). Hamlin was the fastest in the 10-lap average category in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. He was followed by Harvick, Jimmie Johnson , Kurt Busch and Blaney in the top five. Keselowski was best in terms of five-lap average speed, followed by Hamlin, Logano, Kenseth and Johnson in that category.
RELATED: Complete results KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Overcoming obstacles in the XFINITY Series is commonplace for Kyle Busch . In Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway , Busch brushed aside a pit road speeding penalty, a hole in the nose of his No. 54 Toyota, a pit stop that dropped him to seventh for the penultimate restart, an unwelcome green-white-checkered-flag restart and a teammate who had the fastest car for much of the afternoon. The end result was Busch's 75th XFINITY Series victory, extending his own record. Busch won for third time at Kansas and for the fifth time in 20 starts this season. The race also saw Chris Buescher add one point to his series lead over Chase Elliott . Though both drivers had issues -- Elliott a wreck during qualifying that sent him to a backup car and the back of the field; and Buescher a pit road speeding penalty -- Buescher won a drag race to the stripe to come home sixth to Elliott's seventh and leads the standings by 27 points over the defending champion. But the final 43 laps of the event were vintage Kyle Busch . Restarting seventh on Lap 157 after the seventh caution of the afternoon, Busch surged into second place in a single lap. For the next 28 circuits he harried teammate and eventual runner-up Matt Kenseth before clearing his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate through Turn 4 on Lap 185. Busch survived a green-white-checkered after Joey Gase 's engine blew and oiled the 1.5-mile track with five laps left. Picking the outside lane, Busch cleared Kenseth entering the first turn and pulled away to win by .607 seconds. "I wasn't sure we had enough for that 20 car (Kenseth) today, but there at the end of the race, the track was cooling down and certainly getting freer and it looked like Kenseth just was too loose," Busch said. "And I was able to really get the gas down and drive real hard and had a good car to stick through the corner. "This Monster Energy Camry was awesome, (crew chief) Chris Gayle and the guys did a fantastic job for me in getting me a really good piece there at the end to be able to battle with Matt, and it's cool to end up in Victory Lane any day… I wasn't sure how I was going to get the pass done, but fortunately, finally there I was able to do it." Kenseth suffered a loose handling condition late in the race and couldn't keep Busch behind him. "It's frustrating to get beat again," said Kenseth, who has finished second in each of his last four XFINITY Series starts. "We were out front in Chicago and had the better car, but second is the (next) best place to finish, I guess. "Kind of aggravating when you get beat, but we were too free at the end. I didn't give Wheels (crew chief Mike Wheeler) good enough information on the tires. I did everything I could to hold off Kyle except for wrecking. Just couldn’t do it." Joey Logano finished third, followed by fourth-place Ty Dillon and fifth-place Regan Smith . Busch would like nothing better than to duplicate his victory in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas (2:15 p.m. ET on NBC). After a 20th-place finish last Sunday at Charlotte in the first race of the Chase’s Contender Round, Busch could earn a spot in the Eliminator 8 Round with the ninth XFINITY / Sprint Cup weekend sweep of his career (including his three-series sweep at Bristol in 2010).
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Kansas Speedway : 1. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano used a strong restart to win his second straight Chase race -- a career first -- and his fifth victory of the year. " RELATED: Logano discusses win in Victory Lane 2. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin recovered after a lengthy pit stop to overhaul his car's handling during the second caution period. 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "Awesome job guys," Johnson radioed his team. "That is the best race car we have had in a long time." Subscribe to RaceView to hear driver audio 4. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne lined up inside the top five for the final restart and tried to make the bottom line work en route to his first top five since May 31 at Dover. 5. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Suspicious of oil on the high line, Busch cautiously navigated Kansas after getting into the wall a bit with 75 laps to go. 6. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch ran in the top 10 for most of the race even in light of a late-race tire vibration caused by a sliding wheel weight. 7. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford. Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney turned his best Kansas start into his best Kansas finish and ran as high as third among the Chase contenders. 8. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The outside pole winner took advantage of the first pit stall (courtesy of Brad Keselowski 's penalty) throughout the race, including during the second caution when he picked up eight spots and won the race off pit road. 9. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Getting into the wall early might have hurt the pole winner's chances, but he joked it actually helped his car as he fought to stay in the top eight of the Chase Grid . 10. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon gritted out his 14th top 10 in his 20th and final Kansas appearance. " RELATED: Gordon discusses hard top-10 finish 11. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman spent most of the race running in the top 10, but just missed finishing there when he was shuffled back from eighth on the final restart. 12. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Scott matched his best start of the season, lining up 16th in his Kansas debut Sunday, and went on to score his best Cup result of the year. 13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse earned the beneficiary pass during the sixth caution flag and held on to score his second-best Kansas finish. 14. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth struggled to maintain his lead once he got into lapped traffic with seven laps to go and was moved over while apparently trying to block Joey Logano . " RELATED: Kenseth spins late at Kansas 15. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Thankful to see the Lap 263 yellow flag, Truex earned the beneficiary pass and lined up 15th for the final restart. 16. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick's strong run was stalled when he had to serve a late-race pit penalty. His troubles continued when his shifter broke. " RELATED: Harvick's pit road penalty comes at bad time 17. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle overcame an early vibration and worked with his team as his car swung from loose to tight in the closing laps. 18. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne drew AJ Allmendinger 's ire while racing for 23rd on Lap 100. After getting loose and hitting the wall, Allmendinger roughed up the No. 6's bumper before hitting pit road. 19. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Running 22nd before the second caution flag, Menard picked up 11 spots on pit road with a two-tire decision. 20. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray picked up a couple spots after starting 28th, but with no grip, he got into the wall on Lap 50. Owner Chip Ganassi tweeted at the halfway point that his cars were "just not handling at all. I apologize to our fans. But not giving up!!!" 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt's Chase hopes took a hit with 100 laps to go when he had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel. " RELATED: Dale Jr. faces must-win situation at Talladega 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked through a tire vibration just before the halfway point on Sunday. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears opted not to pit during the final caution period, and held onto 23rd during the green-white-checkered finale. 24. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola restarted 15th after the third caution period but quickly lost control and track position when he started leaking power steering fluid. 25. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan posted his fastest lap of the race while running 26th with 30 laps to go. 26. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier hit the wall twice on Sunday; the second time prompted officials to wave the sixth caution flag. 27. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . It was a long day for Allmendinger, who at first thought he was losing his motor. Later in the race, he hit the wall. 28. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . High water temps and subsequent contact with the wall made forward progress difficult for Hornish on Sunday. 29. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson drew upon his dirt track skills Sunday, but was unable to maintain control of his loose Chevy and finally spun on Lap 108. 30. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, winner of the beneficiary of the free pass after the second caution period, fought a car that became too free on long runs during his second Kansas appearance. 31. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman continually worked with his in-car track bar adjuster to fight a tight-handling condition early in Sunday's race. 32. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The rookie qualified 35th for Sunday's race to earn his best Kansas start and went on to claim his best Kansas result. 33. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Unlike his teammates, Whitt opted to pit for tires during the final caution period. 34. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett struggled with a tight-handling condition in his fourth Kansas outing. 35. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . "Driver error again," Stewart muttered after getting loose and spinning on the backstretch to bring out the second caution flag. Watch: Stewart spins at Kansas 36. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . During the fourth caution period, Gilliland made a couple stops on pit road so his team could make additional repairs to the right-rear after he scraped the wall. 37. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton told his team he was on the splitter in Turns 1 and 2 during the first half of Sunday's race. 38. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson was penalized during his green-flag stop on Lap 94 for removing equipment from the box because a wrench was still stuck in the car after the stop. 39. Will Kimmel III , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. Kimmel made his Kansas debut on Sunday. 40. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . The Emporia, Kansas , native, struggled with a loose-handling condition and made hard contact with the wall while running 16th . Watch: Bowyer hits wall hard at Kansas 41. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon had just cracked the top-five when a right-front tire failure sent him into the wall on Lap 155. 42. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley brought out the first caution when he got into the wall on Lap 30 and busted his radiator. 43. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Shortly past halfway, Cassill's motor "just laid over," and he slowly rolled on the apron to the garage.
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kevin Harvick said his team was fortunate to finish as well as it did Sunday, a 16th-place finish leaving the defending series champion fifth in points following the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway . "We didn't have a great weekend," the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion admitted after enduring a broken gear shift knob and a pit road penalty for removing equipment during the course of the 269-lap event. "A lot of things falling off and now we've got to go to Talladega and have a good week. "All in all it could have been a lot worse … everybody kept digging." Harvick, 39, led only once for 21 laps but ran inside the top five for much of the race. It all went haywire for the Stewart-Haas Racing team, however, coming through a round of green-flag stops with some 50 laps remaining. After hitting pit road for service, Harvick pulled out of his pit box on Lap 213 with the fuel can still attached to his car, resulting in a stop-and-go penalty that quickly dropped him to 20th and one lap down. Shortly afterward, he radioed his crew to announce that the knob on the gear shifter had broken. "It was just really hard to shift from second to third just because there was nothing to grab onto for leverage," he said. "But in the end the car vibrated all day; I'm lucky something else didn't break." The top eight in points advance out of the Contender Round and into the Eliminator Round following next week's CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). During the Challenger Round, Harvick kept his season alive in the opening round of the Chase, bouncing back from bad races at Chicagoland and New Hampshire to win comfortably at Dover. Crew chief Rodney Childers says the team simply has to go to Talladega "and have a solid day." "It's all about just racing," he said. "Just like today. We go every week just to race; it's not about anything other than that. Just do the best job you can and whatever happens, happens." The gear shifter problem and pit road violation were just a continuation of the team's troubles at Kansas , according to Childers, who said the head of the shifter "looked like it wasn't glued properly." "It started going south when we got here Friday," Childers said of the team's issues. "The brakes were dragging Friday. We finally got that fixed, qualified good and then (Saturday) didn't go smooth. "Then this morning the track bar slider locked up, we had to cut that off the car and replace it. Then the door seam broke(n) in half, the shifter broke and then we drove the gas can out." The broken door seam -- a large crack ran down the driver's side door area of the No. 4 Chevrolet -- was a result of the beating the cars take from nothing more than air. "A lot of these places that are real smooth … the air buffets a lot and it just beats them to death," he said. "I don't think we necessarily had a bad weekend; a better weekend than most (teams). But our (fuel) mileage wasn't very good and if we didn't try to follow the car out of the box with the can we were going to run out anyway." Only one point separates Harvick, who was second in points entering Kansas , from eighth place Martin Truex Jr . Outside the top eight heading to Talladega are Kyle Busch (ninth), Ryan Newman (10th), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) and Matt Kenseth (12th).
Quick race facts What: Hollywood Casino 400 Where: Kansas Speedway , 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, Kansas Green flag: 2:31 p.m. ET (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Forecast: Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. South wind 8 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. (NOAA.gov) National anthem: Gracie Schram Grand marshal: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, star of NBC's "Truth Be Told" Honorary Starter: Kiki Wolfkill, Halo Interactive Entertainment Distance: 267 laps, 400 miles Pit road speed: 45 mph Caution car speed: 55 mph On the front row " Full lineup 1. Brad Keselowski , Team Penske No. 2 Ford (195.503 mph) 2. Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (195.454 mph) Failed to qualify • Timmy Hill, Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest in practice First practice: Brad Keselowski , Team Penske No. 2 Ford (194.349 mph) " Full results Second practice: Brad Keselowski , Team Penske No. 2 Ford (189.960 mph) " Full results Final practice: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (188.983 mph) " Full results Key story lines • Opposite ends of Chase spectrum for Logano, Kenseth • Kansas race carries wild card status for Chase • Improved product, results for Almirola, No. 43 team • Restarts? Insanity, says Edwards Former winners in the field Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon (3); Greg Biffle , Tony Stewart , Matt Kenseth (2); Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Ryan Newman , Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick (1). They said it "For me it's really no different. We show up and try to do the best we can every week. Same this week; obviously a win moves you on, but I don't feel like it's a must win." -- Matt Kenseth on his 12th-place points position in the Chase standings.
After the fifth race of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway , PitTalks.com ranks the 12 remaining Chase teams' pit crews. For more pit crew news provided by PitTalks.com come back throughout the Chase. No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Carl Edwards Rank: 1 Wins: 2-Charlotte and Darlington Notes: Another solid day by the No. 19 crew and good enough to retain the No. 1 spot. Not their best race in the Chase but still very fast. This makes two weeks in a row at the top. No. 22 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Joey Logano Rank: 2 Wins : 5-Daytona, Watkins Glen, Bristol, Charlotte, Kansas Notes: Just like the No. 19, the No. 22 had another solid day on pit road. Not their best effort of the Chase but good enough to keep their driver up front and win their second race in a row. No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Kyle Busch Rank: 3 Wins: 4- Sonoma , Kentucky, New Hampshire, Indy Notes: A great day on pit road by these guys. Probably their best effort in the first five races of the Chase and no doubt it helped keep the No. 18 up front all day. They came home with a top five, and these guys were a big part. No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kurt Busch Rank: 4 Wins: 2-Richmond and Michigan Notes: This week the No. 41 moved up a spot from fifth to fourth but could have been more with a little bit better day. By no means a bad day, but these guys have been as high as No. 1, and Sunday's performance was good but not great. No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Denny Hamlin Rank: 5 Wins: 2-Martinsville, Sprint All-Star Race, Chicago Notes: The No. 11 seemed to be doing a lot of adjustments during stops Sunday but managed to do them well. They finished second, but overall stop speed was not what we are used to seeing from this group. No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kevin Harvick Rank: 6 Wins: 3-Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dover Notes: As far as pure speed of pit stops, no one was faster than the No. 4 car Sunday. They would have been an easy top-two rank if not for their late-race penalty. Having a gas can leave the pit box late in race hurt their finish, but expect this team to be back in full swing next week. No. 2 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Brad Keselowski Rank: 7 Wins: 1-California Notes: This crew continues to get better each week. Since the beginning of the Chase they have moved up three spots, and with continued consistency they could find themselves in the top five in a few weeks. No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Ryan Newman Rank: 8 Wins: 0 Notes: The No. 31 pit crew had some of the fastest stops Sunday in Kansas . These are the stops we are used to seeing by this group. They move up two spots. Time to back it up next week. No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Matt Kenseth Rank: 9 Wins: 5-Bristol, Pocono, Michigan, Richmond, Loudon Notes: Not a great race by the No. 20, but the crew did nothing to hurt their chances of winning. They kept their driver out front all day and put him in position to win. Their stops have been faster but still a good day. No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Jeff Gordon Rank: 10 Wins: 0 Notes: Not sure the reason but the No. 24 didn't seem that quick this week on pit road. The addition of a new changer a few weeks ago still takes time to get used to. Still waiting to see the quick stops we know they can make. No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Martin Truex Jr . Rank: 11 Wins: 1-Pocono Notes: Stops were OK, but a penalty for an uncontrollable tire was costly. Still looking for this crew to perform like it did last week on a more consistent basis. No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Rank: 12 Wins: 2-Talladega, Daytona Notes: Stops were OK for most of the race, but pitting under green for a vibration really hurt the No. 88. The snowball effect is full steam ahead with this group, and they need to find a way to stop it. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com
When the schedule rolls around to drivers' home tracks, they're often asked what they'd give up for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in front of their home fans. Other than offering their children -- as Kansas native Clint Bowyer noted Friday at Kansas Speedway -- it turns out drivers will give up pretty much anything to land in Victory Lane at the track they call home. Even their airplanes. "I can't think of a possession that I wouldn't trade and I have a really nice airplane," Joe Gibbs Racing driver and nearby Missouri native Carl Edwards said Friday. "For a win here right now, I can't think of anything I wouldn't trade. What we do and everybody at the shop does and everybody at JGR, what we do is go try to win these championships and we give everything we've got. "If it were that easy, for me personally there is no amount of money that a win right now and especially here would be worth or wouldn't be worth." In the past, Edwards has said that a Kansas win would mean more to him than even a Daytona 500 win. He's come close a handful of times, with six top-five finishes in 16 races, but that victory continues to elude him. But if he gets it in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra)? Well, that'd be pretty … wait for it … fly.
RELATED: Updated series standings KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- After fighting poor handling all day, Jeff Gordon pulled a crucial 10th-place finish out of his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on Sunday at Kansas Speedway . That's what four-time champions do: Keep digging. "We were absolutely as far off as you can be," Gordon said after a green-white-checkered finish in the Hollywood Casino 400 . "The thing qualified amazing and ever since we put it in race trim, I just haven't felt comfortable. I haven't felt good and struggled with it. That was one of the hardest top-10s I've ever had." In an exchange with crew chief Alan Gustafson after a caution on Lap 65, Gordon said, "I've got zero confidence in the back. The front's barely hanging on. … I know we've got to get the front to turn better. I just don't know how we get it and keep some security in the rear." Making adjustments on every stop, Gustafson and Gordon worked to get the No. 24 lined up 14th on the race's final restart, having slid back to mid-pack in stretches Sunday. The top-10 finish, one place ahead of fellow Chaser Ryan Newman 's No. 31 Chevrolet, was a difference-maker in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Gordon moved one spot up in the standings, putting him seventh going into the final race of the Contender Round at Talladega. Only the top eight drivers will advance to the Eliminator Round. Gordon is in his last season as a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver, and his 23 years of experience have helped him maintain his composure while fighting a car, keeping one eye on the track at hand and another on the big picture of the championship race. "You can't wreck it, that's the thing. And I almost did," Gordon said about trying to balance fighting for a win and fighting for a championship. "I was battling with Carl (Edwards) there on one of those last restarts. And Carl almost got away from me. I realized 12th was better than 35th, and so I just had to back off. "There at the end we had an opportunity, Alan made a great call in putting two tires on, and I had the outside lane and we moved up some spots." Staying above the cut line at Talladega will be a challenge for every Chase driver except Joey Logano , who is locked into the Eliminator Round after back-to-back victories at Charlotte and Kansas . Gordon has six wins at Talladega -- the same number as fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- and an average finish of 17.3. His 79.2 driver rating at the tempestuous track is another reason for the No. 24 team to feel some level of confidence heading into a Chase wild-card race. "With our pit crew and the communication and the way the team's performing and executing, I think I'm more optimistic about that race than these last two, in all honesty. But it's just the unknown that throws a wrench in that." Earnhardt Jr. is the strongest Chase driver statistically at Talladega, and Gordon takes comfort in his teammate's success at the Alabama track, including the No. 88's victory in May's Geico 500. "You've seen what Dale Jr.'s done there, and I think our cars are just as good as his," Gordon said. "We just can't get caught in the middle and get caught up in a wreck." The secrets to success next week are qualifying and pit stops: Starting up front and staying up front. As far as advancing in the Chase goes, that's a simple solution, too: "Win." Gordon knows he doesn't have to win next week to advance, but that's another thing four-time champions do: Aim high.
Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams received warnings after post-race inspections for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway , including the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team. The No. 88 team with Dale Earnhardt Jr . received a warning for failing pre-race inspection twice. The No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team with Alex Bowman also received a warning for the same reason. The No. 83 BK Racing team with Matt DiBenedetto received a warning for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice. The No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team with Ryan Blaney received a warning for the following infraction: Section 10.7.2.b. Blaney finished seventh at Kansas , while Earnhardt Jr. was 21st, DiBenedetto was 30th and Bowman was 31st. If any team or person accumulates six or more warnings in a six-month period from the first warning, a P2 penalty could be issued by NASCAR. P2 penalties can include point deductions, fines and suspensions that can carry over into the next season.
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush breaks down the starting grid for the Hollywood Casino 400 as Brad Keselowski shows off his impeccable timing at Kansas Speedway .