With Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski already locked into the next round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs by virtue of their wins in the Round of 12, here are the 10 drivers, in order of points, who must win Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 to guarantee passage into the Round of 8. The remaining five spots will be determined by points.
Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet
This has been a breakthrough year for Larson, a 25-year-old Californian, who is third in the standings and has a 29-point lead over ninth-place Kyle Busch. Larson, in just his fourth full season as a Cup driver, has won four races this season and finished sixth in last spring’s race at Kansas Speedway after 35th and 30th place finishes in his previous two starts.
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Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford
Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion, qualified for the 2016 playoffs by winning last year’s race at Kansas Speedway. Harvick, 41, also won the fall race at Kansas Speedway in 2014 and finished second in the 2015 and 2016 May races and third in 2017. His average finish in 23 starts at Kansas Speedway is 10.0, second only to Jimmie Johnson’s 9.6
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
Hamlin, with 31 career Cup wins, is generally acknowledged as the best Cup driver without a championship. Hamlin, 36, has won at New Hampshire and Darlington this season and won the 2012 spring race at Kansas Speedway. But after a second-place finish in the 2015 fall race, his last three finishes at Kansas Speedway: 37th, 15th, 23rd.
Chase Elliott, No. 24 Chevrolet
Elliott, son of Hall of Famer and 1988 champion Bill Elliott, is still looking for his first career Cup win, but it’s not for a lack of effort. Elliott, 21, has four second-place finishes this season, including runner-up finishes in three playoff races — at Chicago, Dover and Charlotte, all similar intermediate tracks to Kansas Speedway. Elliott finished 24th in the May race at Kansas.
Ryan Blaney, No. 21 Ford
Blaney, in just his second full season as a Cup driver, qualified for the playoffs with his first career win at Pocono, has 11 Top 10 finishes this season, including a fourth in the May race at Kansas Speedway, where he sat on the pole. Blaney, 23, is the son of former NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet
Johnson, who is bidding for a second straight and record eighth Cup championship, holds down the eighth and final spot above the playoff cut line. He is tied with former teammate Jeff Gordon for the most wins at Kansas Speedway with three. Johnson, 42, has won three races this season, but none since June 4 at Dover.
Kyle Busch, No., 18 Toyota
Busch, the 2015 Sprint Cup champion, has been a dominant driver at Kansas Speedway during the past four years, with an average finish of 3.8 in his last five starts, including his first win at the track in May 2016. Busch, 32, has won seven races at Kansas Speedway across all three national series — one Cup, four Xfinity and two trucks — the most by any NASCAR driver.
Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota
Kenseth, in his final season with Joe Gibbs Racing, has yet to win this season but he is a two-time winner at Kansas Speedway, and his average finish of 13.1 in 23 starts is tied for third behind Johnson and Harvick. Kenseth, 45, is without a ride for 2018, so this may be his last chance for a second championship to go with the title he won in 2003.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford
Stenhouse, best known as Danica Patrick’s boyfriend, qualified for the playoffs for the first time by virtue of his first career win, last spring at Talladega. He also won another restrictor plate race at Daytona in July. Stenhouse, 30, finished 11th in May at Kansas Speedway and won the 2012 Xfinity race.
Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet
McMurray, 41, has yet to win a race since 2013 at Sonoma, but the native of Joplin has been consistent enough to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight year. McMurray has 16 Top 10 finishes in 30 starts this season, including eighth in last May’s spring race at Kansas, his first top-10 finish there since 2013.