CONCORD, N.C. – This Sunday, the three Hendrick Motorsports playoff drivers have a clear task at hand in order to advance to the Round of 8.
While it’s possible to clinch their spot on points, it would all depend on the finishes of the drivers ahead of them in the standings. The only way Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman can guarantee they move on to the next round is to win at Kansas Speedway.
“We are going to head out to Kansas and try to get a win,” Elliott 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. I feel as confident going there as I do anywhere.”
Elliott captured a win at Kansas in last season’s playoffs, leading the final 44 laps en route to the No. 9 team’s third win of the 2018 campaign. He has led a total of 93 laps at the 1.5-mile track, with all but four coming in the two most recent events. In the last four races at Kansas, he has earned a total of 164 points, the second-highest of all drivers.
His three top-five finishes at Kansas are his second-most at a single track in his Cup career.
Byron saw his fair share of success at the venue early in his career. In his first two NASCAR national series starts at the 1.5-mile track – one in the Xfinity Series and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series – he started from the pole position in both races and finished no worse than fourth. In his debut at the track in 2016, just his fifth Truck Series start, Byron started from the top spot, led 34 laps and collected his first Truck Series win.
He's looking forward to seeing how this weekend’s race will play out with so much on the line.
“With it being an elimination race, I think it will open things up for different strategies,” the driver said. “It’s a bit of an unknown at this point.”
Bowman is ready to take on the challenge as well, returning to a track where he qualified fifth, led 63 laps and finished second earlier this season.
In that May race, the Tucson, Arizona, native had the second-best average running position of sixth and spent 181 laps inside the top five, which was the most by any driver in the event.
“I can’t wait to get to Kansas this weekend,” he 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.”
Overall, Hendrick Motorsports has shown plenty of speed on 1.5-mile tracks like Kansas this season.
Through eight races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2019, the organization has improved its stats in virtually every category compared to the same starts in 2018. This year, Hendrick Motorsports drivers own two more poles, one more win, six more top-five finishes, 11 more top-10s and 441 more laps led. They have also bettered their average start by more than six positions and average finish by more than nine positions, scoring 393 more points than 2018 in the process.
All of that combines to leave the playoff teammates excited about their prospects this weekend at Kansas.
Bowman enters the race ninth in the standings, 18 points behind eighth place. Elliott is 22 points back in 10th and Byron is 27 points below the cut-off line in 12th.
Sunday’s race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.