NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Hollywood Casino 400 Preview

Shannon BaxterContributor IOctober 7, 2011

KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 05:  Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on June 5, 2011 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

The top series of NASCAR heads to the intermediate track of Kansas Speedway for the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The Top 12 in points got a shakeup at Dover, propelling Kevin Harvick to the points lead, with Carl Edwards tying him.  Harvick comes to Kansas with an average finish of 14.3.  Edwards considers Kansas his home track, and although he hasn't won here before, he did finish second in 2008.  Harvick and Edwards have a very tight nine-point lead over third place in standings.

Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch hold the wins for the first three Chase races.  They are tied for third position in points.  Stewart has two previous wins here, with an average finish of 11.9.  Busch shot up five positions in standings after his win last weekend at Dover.  However, Busch will have to step up his game to get the win here this weekend, with an average finish of 18.1 at this track.

Coming back to Kansas Speedway is especially invigorating for Brad Keselowski, having won his first Cup race for Penske here in June.  That was also the race that set Keselowski on a dash to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Brad dropped three positions in standings after Dover to sixth position.  However, he is only 14 points behind the leader, tied with Matt Kenseth.

The top nine drivers in the Chase are separated by a mere 19 points, with Jeff Gordon in the ninth position.  Coming to Kansas, Gordon has two previous wins and nine top-10 finishes.

People started to doubt Gordon’s teammate Jimmie Johnson after his doubtful finishes in the first two chase races.  However, after his second place finish at Dover, we now know never to count out the five-time champion.

Fellow Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr is already being counted out of the Championship, after dropping two positions in points to 10th position at Dover.  Granted, it is starting to look weary for the 88 team.  On the other hand, Earnhardt has five top-10 finishes at Kansas and could very well gain position for the point’s battle at this track.  With seven races left until we crown the champion, Earnhardt has plenty of time to recover.

Kyle Busch needs to jump-start his game at Kansas to stay competitive in the point’s battle.  Though, Kansas may not be the track he does it at.  With an average finish of 22.4, Busch will have to fight hard to maintain his point’s position.  After Dover, he is now eighth in standings.

Make sure you tune into ESPN on Sunday to find out how the Chase for the Sprint Cup unfolds!