Miss Coors Light, Amanda Mertz, catches up with Brad Keselowski, the Coors Light Pole Award winner for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
From issues for Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, to Joey Logano spinning Matt Kenseth for the win check out some of the best in-car audio from the Hollywood Casino 400 .
A statistical look ahead to the opening race of the Contender Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Contenders – and beyond – at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas going into the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, October 5. Coverage begins on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET and the race is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. KANSAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 105.0 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles • Average finish of 12.4 • Led 23 races for 1,496 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 10.6 in nine races • Average Running Position of 13.8, 10th-best • Driver Rating of 89.2, 11th-best 2 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.5 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 12.2 • Led 19 races for 794 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, two top 10s • Average finish of 21.7 in 10 races • Average Running Position of 20.3, 24th-best • Driver Rating of 73.2, 21st-best 3 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.8 2014 Rundown • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; seven poles • Average finish of 14.0 • Led 21 races for 1,592 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 11.5 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 11.8, seventh-best • Driver Rating of 99.1, fifth-best • 202 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most • Series-high 969 Green Flag Passes • 468 Quality Passes, fifth-most 4 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.8 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.4 • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles • Average finish of 7.6 in 16 races • Series-best Average Running Position of 7.5 • Series-best Driver Rating of 117.4 • Series-high 478 Fastest Laps Run • Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 167.549 mph • Series-high 3,042 Laps in the Top 15 (89.0%) • Series-high 614 Quality Passes 5 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.4 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 10.0 • Led 20 races for 665 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Three wins, 10 top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 10.1 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 9.7, third-best • Driver Rating of 101.1, fourth-best • 147 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 2,878 Laps in the Top 15 (84.2%), second-most • 536 Quality Passes, second-most 6 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.6 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 17.1 • Led 13 races for 411 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top 10s • Average finish of 22.7 in 14 races • Average Running Position of 18.7, 19th-best • Driver Rating of 76.8, 19th-best • 864 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most • 404 Quality Passes, 11th-most 7 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.2 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 11.0 • Led 12 races for 220 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.2 in 16 races • Average Running Position of 14.5, 12th-best • Driver Rating of 91.5, ninth-best • 108 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most • 855 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.627 mph, eighth-fastest • 1,981 Laps in the Top 15 (62.8%), 10th-most • 424 Quality Passes, eighth-most 8 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.5 2014 Rundown • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 17 races for 467 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 14.3 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 10.4, fourth-best • Driver Rating of 107.4, second-best • 235 Fastest Laps Run, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.855 mph, third-fastest • 2,623 Laps in the Top 15 (76.7%), fourth-most • 418 Quality Passes, ninth-most 9 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1 2014 Rundown • Two top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 14.0 • Led 4 races for 24 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 18.7 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 20.6, 25th-best • Driver Rating of 69.6, 25th-best • 908 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most 10 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.5 2014 Rundown • Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 14.8 • Led 10 races for 134 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 in 14 races • Average Running Position of 12.1, eighth-best • Driver Rating of 97.1, seventh-best • 131 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most • 877 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.689 mph, seventh-fastest • 2,352 Laps in the Top 15 (68.8%), sixth-most • 493 Quality Passes, fourth-most 11 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.8 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 15.5 • Led 12 races for 195 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, three top 10s • Average finish of 15.1 in 12 races • Average Running Position of 14.3, 11th-best • Driver Rating of 87.7, 14th-best • 69 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most • 2,002 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), ninth-most • 399 Quality Passes, 12th-most 12 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7 2014 Rundown • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.5 • Led 10 races for 204 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, seven top 10s; three poles • Average finish of 13.2 in 14 races • Average Running Position of 13.6, ninth-best • Driver Rating of 93.0, eighth-best • 147 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 939 Green Flag Passes, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.619 mph, ninth-fastest • 2,208 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), seventh-most • 436 Quality Passes, sixth-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.1 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.7 • Led 5 races for 68 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 22.8 in nine races • Average Running Position of 22.7, 27th-best • Driver Rating of 68.2, 26th-best 14 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.5 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, eight top 10s • Average finish of 19.3 • Led 11 races for 181 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One top five, four top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 17.6 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 14.9, 14th-best • Driver Rating of 87.3, 16th-best • 121 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most • 923 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most • 1,980 Laps in the Top 15 (57.9%), 11th-most • 405 Quality Passes, 10th-most 15 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Filtrete Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.4 2014 Rundown • Three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.8 • Led 6 races for 109 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 10.7 in 16 races • Average Running Position of 9.5, second-best • Driver Rating of 104.7, third-best • 205 Fastest Laps Run, third-most • 837 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.836 mph, fourth-fastest • 2,755 Laps in the Top 15 (80.6%), third-most • 506 Quality Passes, third-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Farmland Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.5 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 20.6 • Led 5 races for 23 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Three top 10s • Average finish of 15.6 in five races • Average Running Position of 15.3, 15th-best • Driver Rating of 88.1, 13th-best • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.561 mph, 11th-fastest The 12 Challengers at Kansas Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Brad Keselowski 9 0 1 2 4 0 10.6 89.2 2 Joey Logano 10 0 0 2 2 1 21.7 73.2 3 Kevin Harvick 17 2 1 3 8 1 11.5 99.1 4 Jimmie Johnson 16 3 2 6 14 1 7.6 117.4 5 Jeff Gordon 17 0 3 10 12 2 10.1 101.1 6 Kyle Busch 14 0 0 0 2 4 22.7 76.8 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 16 1 0 2 8 2 15.2 91.5 8 Matt Kenseth 17 2 2 6 10 2 14.3 107.4 9 Ryan Newman 17 0 1 3 4 3 18.7 69.6 10 Carl Edwards 14 0 0 5 10 1 10.5 97.1 11 Denny Hamlin 12 0 1 3 3 0 15.1 87.7 12 Kasey Kahne 14 3 0 4 7 1 13.2 93 * – Based on last 13 races at Kansas Speedway . Kansas Speedway: History · Groundbreaking was held on May 25, 1999. · The official opening of Kansas Speedway was in 2001, with the first events being an ARCA race and a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race on the same day – June 2. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on Sept. 30, 2001 – won by Jeff Gordon . · During the 2012 season, between the April and October events the 1.5-mile track underwent a repave adding variable banking in the corners. Notebook · There have been 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway , one NSCS event from 2001 - 2010 and two races per year since 2011. · 116 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas; 86 in more than one. · Five drivers have started all 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway – Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman . · Jason Leffler won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Kansas Speedway in 2001 with a speed of 176.499 mph. · 11 drivers have Coors Light poles at Kansas, led by Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne with three each. · Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers to win consecutive Coors Light poles at Kansas Speedway (Johnson – 2007, 2008 and Harvick – fall 2013, spring 2014). · Youngest Kansas pole winner: Jason Leffler (09/30/2001 – 26 years, 0 months, 14 days). · Oldest Kansas pole winner: Mark Martin (10/04/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 25 days). · 11 different drivers have won at Kansas Speedway , led by Jeff Gordon with three. · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with five: Jeff Gordon (three) and Jimmie Johnson (two). · Chevrolet leads the series in wins at Kansas with nine victories; followed by Ford with four wins. · Four of the 17 (23.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; Joe Nemechek (2004), Jimmie Johnson (2008), Matt Kenseth (spring 2013) and Kevin Harvick (fall 2013). · Five of the 17 (29.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from the front row: four from the pole and one from second-place. · 10 of the 17 (58.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Two of the 17 (11.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Kansas Speedway was 25th, by Brad Keselowski in the spring of 2011. · Youngest Kansas winner: Ryan Newman (10/05/2003 – 25 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Oldest Kansas winner: Mark Martin (10/09/2005 – 46 years, 9 months, 0 days). · Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most runner-up finishes at Kansas Speedway with two each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Kansas Speedway with 10; followed by Greg Biffle with seven. · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway with 14; followed by Jeff Gordon (12), Edwards, Kenseth each have 10. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Kansas Speedway with an 11.000. · Jimmie Johnson (7.625) leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Kansas Speedway – he is the only driver with an average finish in the top-10 at Kansas. · There has been one NSCS race resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Kansas Speedway : fall of 2011 (267/272). · Only one of the 16 races at Kansas Speedway has been shortened due to weather conditions: fall of 2007. · Qualifying has never been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway . · Denny Hamlin has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway without posting a DNF (12). · 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Austin Dillon (10/09/2011) and Denny Hamlin (10/09/2005) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Kansas Speedway . · Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth are the only two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers that have posted consecutive wins at Kansas Speedway : Gordon (2001 and 2002 – the first two NSCS events at Kansas) and Kenseth (fall of 2012, spring of 2013). · Nine of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Kansas Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won at Kansas in his first appearance. · Kevin Harvick competed at Kansas Speedway 15 times before winning last fall; the longest span of any the 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Kansas. · Kevin Harvick (15) and Matt Kenseth (13) have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Kansas Speedway . · Kurt Busch leads the series with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 17. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway was the (10/10/2004) race won by Joe Nemechek with a MOV of 0.081 second. · Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Kansas Speedway with 586 laps led in 16 starts. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 40 32 10/21/2012 Danica Patrick 25 25 4/21/2013 Danica Patrick 29 43 10/6/2013 Danica Patrick 9 7 5/10/2014 NASCAR in Kansas · There have been 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Kansas. Track Name City NSCS Kansas Speedway Kansas City 17 · 17 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Kansas. · Two drivers from Kansas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; both have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Clint Bowyer 8 8 3 Jim Roper 1 0 0 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Relive all of the actions from Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
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.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Joey Logano is in a familiar position. Matt Kenseth is not. Logano, the Team Penske driver, enters the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with no pressure and no concern about advancing to the Eliminator Round of this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . Kenseth , the 2003 series champion, understands that advancement for his No. 20 team likely will require winning either this weekend's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway or next weekend's Campingworld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . As many as five of the eight positions in the Eliminator Round will be determined by points positions (up to three could go to race winners), and there is a chance the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could be one of them. But to do so, Kenseth will have to overtake four drivers and erase a 32-point deficit. The two are among the most successful on the track this season -- Kenseth has five victories, Logano four. Kenseth won at New Hampshire in the second race of the Chase to secure a berth in Contender Round; Logano is headed to the Eliminator Round thanks to last week's win at Charlotte Motor Speedway . It was at Charlotte that Kenseth finished 42nd, and put him in the unenviable position of having to play catch-up. The elimination-style format, which whittles the 16-team Chase field down to four heading into Homestead-Miami Speedway , favors no one. It didn't favor Jimmie Johnson in the opening round this year, sending the six-time champion home early thanks to a mechanical issue at Dover. It didn't favor Kyle Busch last year when a crash at Talladega knocked the JGR driver from second to see-you-next-season. "It's a very different format," Kenseth acknowledged Friday at Kansas, site of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "You look at Jimmie with the problem he had and he's out; if it was a 10-race (no elimination) deal, he might not be out. "You can usually have a mulligan and in this format, depending on what your competition does, you can't." The pressure may be a bit higher, but most of those in the Chase say they treat each race no differently. Kenseth knows the drill; he's been in similar situations before. "It's really no different," he said. "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 (situation). … "Just try to do the best we can today to qualify as good as we can, hopefully start up front … and hopefully be up front Sunday." Logano, 25, would like to be up front on Sunday as well, but knows his Chase future doesn't require it for at least two more weekends. It's a feeling similar to what the team experienced after he won the season-opening Daytona 500 . "It's like 'Ahh,' that (sense of) relief," Logano said. "You go out there, you race … relaxed." With Talladega around the corner, many have described this three-race round as the most stressful of those leading up to the championship race. A win at Charlotte or this weekend at Kansas would go a long way toward alleviating concerns about the season's final restrictor-plate race and allow teams to focus on the final push. Kevin Harvick , Martin Truex Jr ., Denny Hamlin , Kurt Busch , Carl Edwards , Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski sit second through eighth in points. Ryan Newman , Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . are ahead of Kenseth, but on the outside looking in as well. "No one feels good," Logano said, referencing Kyle Busch 's stunning tumble at Talladega last season, "unless you win and that's why we feel really good. "We have to take advantage of this opportunity we have right now. Winning that race last weekend (was) the biggest win we could have gotten at this point of the season."
RELATED: Complete qualifying results KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Brad Keselowski 's pole-winning run on Friday at Kansas Speedway was an early Christmas present to second-place qualifier Carl Edwards . Keselowski saved his best lap for the third and final round of knockout qualifying at the 1.5-mile track, touring the distance in 27.621 seconds (195.503 mph) to edge Edwards (195.454 mph) for the top starting spot by .007 seconds. But in claiming his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Kansas and the 10th of his career, Keselowski didn't cash in on one of the primary perks that typically accrues to the pole winner. Because his No. 2 Team Penske Ford had accumulated four written warnings for minor infractions discovered during the at-track technical inspection process, Keselowski forfeits the traditional right of first pit selection, and the choice goes to Edwards for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBC), the fifth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . "It's like getting a nice piece of cheesecake without the toppings," Keselowski said. "It's nice to be fast this week. We weren't anywhere near as fast as we wanted to be at Charlotte (last Sunday), which was frustrating. "And I'm not sure I could answer why we're faster this week, but sometimes that stuff just comes and goes, and you don't really understand why. But when you have speed, you've got to make the most of it." Getting the last pick of pit stalls won't help Keselowski's cause, but Edwards didn't seem to mind the unexpected bonus. "So we'll get that first pit stall (closest to the exit from pit road)," a delighted Edwards said after time trials. "That'll be huge. That's a gift -- and we'll take it." Both Keselowski and Edwards are among 12 Chase drivers vying for eight spots in the Eliminator 8 Round of NASCAR's 10-race playoff, with the cutoff looming Oct. 25 at Talladega Superspeedway . Only 14th-place qualifier Joey Logano , who with Dale Earnhardt Jr . (15th) was one of two Chase drivers who didn't make the top 12 on Friday, has already advanced to the Eliminator 8 Round, by virtue of last Sunday's victory at Charlotte. In addition to Keselowski, Edwards, Logano and Earnhardt, other Chase drivers will line up as follows: Kyle Busch , third; Kevin Harvick , fourth; Denny Hamlin , fifth; Jeff Gordon , sixth; Martin Truex Jr ., seventh; Kurt Busch , ninth; and Matt Kenseth , 10th. Ryan Blaney (eighth), running a limited schedule for Wood Brothers Racing , was the only non-Chase driver to crack the top 10. Blaney posted the fastest lap in the second round of qualifying at 195.164 mph. Harvick had difficulty getting up to speed during Friday's opening practice session, but the reigning series champion was relieved by his fourth-place qualifying effort. "That's a win for us," Harvick said. "We thought we were going to have to race our way from 25th, so to be fourth is a big improvement." Notes: Timmy Hill failed to make the 43-car field… Casey Mears ' No. 13 Chevrolet broke loose and slammed into the Turn 4 wall seven minutes into the first round of qualifying, forcing him to a backup car for Sunday's race.
Four Chase races in the books, four different winners and who knows what excitement, absurdity, chicanery, etc., will unfold when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Kansas Speedway this weekend. Another 1.5-mile track, and one of the few located next to a casino . It's not the first, but it is the newest in that regard. Denny Hamlin didn't stomp the field at Chicagoland Speedway , home of the opening race in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver led only nine laps. But he raced with a torn ACL, and any injury that includes the word "torn" tells you all you want to know. Hamlin also found himself at the back of the field almost before the green flag had quit waving when his No. 11 Toyota spun barely two laps into the race. But he won, the Chase was on and the series moved to New Hampshire Motor Speedway , where defending series champion Kevin Harvick ran out of gas after nearly whipping the field into submission. Matt Kenseth , the last driver to win NASCAR's premier series title that didn't have a "Chase" stamped all over it, is a teammate of Hamlin. He had full use of both ACLs and more fuel in his tank and all of a sudden JGR had two of its four drivers guaranteed to move on to the next round. At Dover, the least likely person to have an issue that might prevent him from advancing to the next round had just that. A torn (there's that word again) rear axle seal doomed Jimmie Johnson , the 10-time Dover winner, and all of a sudden this year's Chase had a very different look to it. Fans have long complained that the grouping of Chase tracks favored Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team. Given his series-leading 25 "playoff" victories, it's an easy assumption to make. But perhaps this new elimination format does not. Johnson's mechanical issues set the course for his eventual demise, but likely didn't alter the outcome of the Dover race. Harvick, his tank full of fuel, ripped through the field so impressively that folks began dissecting his winning burnout in hopes of finding clues for his performance. That's when you know you've got 'em whipped. A field of 12 advanced to open the Contender Round last week at Charlotte, where it rained hard enough and long enough to force officials to delay the race by a day. Joey Logano , never a winner at Charlotte but finding Victory Lane on a regular basis since moving over to Team Penske , did the destruction this time, leading 227 of 334 laps. Four Chase races, each with its own set of oddities, and four different winners. Almost before the checkered flag has unfurled, each winner has been described as "the team to beat." Logano, the winner of last year's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, said his team pays no mind to what others are doing or how they are performing. "You've got to look at yourself," the 25-year-old said. "We just stay focused on doing what we know how to do. Don't go and reinvent the wheel and stay focused. "There are going to be cars that are dominant each week, and we've just got to be that car more times than not." Logano's No. 22 team hasn't been the most dominant, but it has been the most recent to show what it is capable of. Next comes Kansas and yet another opportunity. The Chase hasn't seen five different winners in the opening five races since 2010. Given the way this year's events have played out, five for five isn't only possible, it's also entirely likely.
RELATED: Podcast: Is Truex lying in wait? CONCORD, N.C. -- After a tough run of races over the summer heading into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Martin Truex Jr . came into the postseason a bit under the radar. Most don't see us. We're still here. #ambush #truexnation — Martin Truex Jr . (@MartinTruex_Jr) October 13, 2015 The Furniture Row Racing driver's stealth run toward a possible championship continued at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a day that saw Joey Logano dominate his way to victory and several title contenders find trouble. Truex scored a third-place finish in the Bank of America 500 that puts him third in the standings and 12 points above the cutline to be one of eight drivers to advance to the Eliminator Round. RELATED: See how the entire 43-car field fared at Charlotte "Third is great and all, but it's no guarantee," Truex said after the race. "I felt like this round would be good for us. Charlotte and Kansas, we ran so good here in the first race this year, and then after practice I was like, 'oh my God, we're struggling.' This was honestly the worst weekend we've had all season long as far as how I felt about the race car. "So I was like, ok, kind of damage control. Let's just hopefully get a top 10 out of this thing, and to do ‑‑ to get third out of it was a huge step for us." Truex qualified 15th for the Bank of America 500 and finished 16th, 4th and 15th in the three practice sessions. "From the time practice was over on Friday until this morning, we were texting about the set-up and what we were going to do and what we had to do and what to focus on," Truex said of his single-car team's efforts to improve the No. 78 Chevrolet this weekend. " I'm just proud of those guys for what they did. It was a true team effort and a testament to this team and their fight." DIRTY AIR PODCAST: Truex lying in wait? The run was Truex's best result since a third-place finish at Michigan in August and was his best career finish at Charlotte. The finish also gave Truex a career-high in top-fives for a single season (eight) and matched his career-high in top 10s (19). And now the 35-year-old turns his attention to the next race of the Contender Round at Kansas. Truex led a race-high 95 laps in the spring race at Kansas, the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 , en route to a ninth-place finish. Prior to that, he had four top-four finishes in his past six starts at the 1.5-mile track. "Honestly, I think going to Kansas, a win is huge," Truex said. "It would be so huge. It's so critical to try to get that win out of the way. Logano is the only one that's going to sleep for the next two weeks. You know what I mean? "Kansas has been one of my best race tracks, and certainly one of my best since I went to Furniture Row. Honestly, we're going there as hard as we can go with everything we have to try to win just because we know Talladega is that wild card." Add in his 6.7 average finish in the seven intermediate track races that have used the 2015 rules package and its easy to see why Truex feels confident heading into Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). "Talladega still looms. It still makes us nervous," Truex said. "But next week could be a really good race for us and we're looking forward to getting that win that’s been eluding me at Kansas for a couple of years."