The Cup Series playoffs continue on September 11 at Kansas Speedway. Two drivers, Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon, are using the race as an opportunity to potentially shut down the doubters while embracing the “underdog” mentality.
Bowman has spoken multiple times about being an underdog heading into the playoffs. His mindset has not changed at all heading toward Kansas Speedway. Crew chief Greg Ives even indicated that Bowman’s past strong runs at the track have helped him get ready to stack some more points.
“Alex really likes Kansas and coming off a top-10 finish, I think our team has a lot of wind in our sails right now,” Ives said ahead of the trip to Kansas, per GM PR. “He has said it before, we always feel like underdogs, so there is a little bit of a fire lit under the No. 48 team right now and I think that’s exactly what this team needs as we navigate the playoffs.”
Bowman entered the playoffs under the cutline, and it appeared that he would be an early exit during the Round of 16. He hasn’t punched his ticket to the Round of 12, but he now sits above the cutline after turning in a solid points day at Darlington Raceway and avoiding incidents. Bowman went from 15th in the standings to 10th with two races remaining in the opening round.
Dillon Has Added Confidence at a Variety of Tracks
Dillon was the last driver to secure his spot in the playoffs. He won the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway and jumped from well below the cutline to 16th in the playoff field.
Dillon remains below the cutline, but he is only four points out of the final transfer spot for the Round of 12. Now he will head to some tracks that he enjoys with the knowledge that he has to gain every single point possible to get himself into the next round of the playoffs.
“I’m confident at the tracks in the playoffs,” Dillon said. “RCR has shown speed at every type of track with Tyler Reddick winning the road courses, and the No. 3 team winning the speedway. At Martinsville Speedway, I finished third but was probably the second-best car there, and we probably should have won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I was really close there. I’m happy to be in this spot and I think we’re the underdog. Some people are already putting us out, which is just fine with me because it takes pressure off and we’ll go have fun and try to upset some of these guys. We’re taking it as survive and advance mode from here on out.”
Bowman & Dillon Both Have Strong Kansas Runs
Of the two “underdog” drivers, Bowman has better stats at Kansas Speedway. He has six top-10 finishes and two top-fives in his 14 starts at the intermediate track, including a runner-up during the regular season in 2019 and a third-place finish during the 2020 playoffs.
Dillon, for comparison, has 18 starts at Kansas Speedway with five top-10 finishes. He finished sixth during both 2016 races and then 10th during both 2021 races. His most recent start led to a 13th-place finish.
According to BetMGM, Bowman has better odds to win and punch his ticket to the Round of 12. Though he sits further back from some Toyota drivers. He enters the weekend at 22-1, putting him 14th overall. Dillon is 19th on BetMGM’s list at 80-1 odds to win at Kansas Speedway.