Chase Elliott closed round two, or the round of 12, of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his fourth-straight road-course win and second-straight win at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. That win not only secured Elliott’s advancement to the third round, or round of eight, of the playoffs, but it also played a part in securing him the pole for the first race of the third round, Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
“I don’t know if we are necessarily taking a different approach. I think we’re just trying to build on what we’ve been working on over the past few years,” Elliott said. “I feel like every year we’ve been close; we just haven’t been able to get over that hump and really assert ourselves among that top group. I feel like we’ve been right there. I feel like we’re very capable of it. Just those little inconsistencies and some bad race tracks have been our biggest problems. So we’re trying to be a little more consistent everywhere. I think it’s a goal. And eliminate bad tracks. You can’t have bad tracks at this level, and the guys who win often and win all the time and run good don’t have any bad tracks. So it’s certainly possible, and that’s just where we have to get to. The reality is that’s the only way to contend with them, and I think we’re capable of doing it.”
Elliott will share the front row of Sunday’s starting grid with Joey Logano. Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick will start in the second row.
The top-eight starting positions at Kansas will be occupied by playoff drivers, with Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman in row three.
“Making the round of eight was one of our team’s goals for the 2020 season,” Bowman said. “We are focused and ready to get through the round of eight and go for a championship in Phoenix next month. Going to Kansas this weekend is something I am looking forward to. We have had some strong results there in the past and Hendrick Motorsports’ intermediate program is one of our best. This No. 88 team is capable of putting together a race-winning Chevrolet and we believe we will have a strong car this weekend.”
Denny Hamlin, who heads into Sunday race as the winner of the last two races at Kansas Speedway, will start seventh.
“I think it kind of started last year. I don’t know. Kansas has not always been my strongest suit,” Hamlin said. “I was terrified of Kansas probably a few years ago, but I showed up to playoff race there last year, and my car was just absolutely incredible how well it was handling, how good it was. I remember I started mid-pack, maybe in the 20s, and just drove to the front and dominated the day. From that point on, once I create that good database for Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) to work off of, it seems like when we go back to the track, he’s made the proper adjustments for weather and conditions and things like that, car changes. He’s dialed in. Hopefully, I have another really good handling car like I’ve had in the last few races. If so, I know it’s an important one for us. We could go the next two weeks and really shift our focus from Texas and Martinsville to putting all of our resources towards Phoenix, and that would certainly be a benefit for whoever locks in right off the bat.”
Brad Keselowski will be the lowest-starting playoff driver Sunday in the eighth position.