Stock car racing heads to Kansas Speedway on October 23-24 for three pivotal playoff races. The NASCAR Xfinity Series and Cup Series drivers will fight for spots in the respective championship races while the ARCA Menards Series season will come to an end with one final battle between its top two contenders.
The weekend will kick off with the second race of the Xfinity Series Round of Eight, which takes place at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. None of the playoff-eligible drivers have secured a spot in the championship race due to John Hunter Nemechek taking the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway on October 16.
The Cup Series race will take place on Sunday, October 17, at 3 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for this pivotal race as seven drivers try to win and join Kyle Larson in the championship four. Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Busch are all above the cutline. Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. are all below with two races remaining in the Round of Eight.
The ARCA Menards Series Race Will Cap Off Saturday’s Schedule
While the Xfinity Series and Cup Series drivers will fight for spots in the championship race, the ARCA Menards Series drivers will battle for the championship trophy at 7 p.m. ET (MAVTV). Though it will be close to impossible for Corey Heim to pull off the upset despite winning six races in 2021.
Ty Gibbs, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has essentially clinched the championship before heading to Kansas Speedway. He has 10 wins and a 34-point advantage over Heim with one race remaining. According to the ARCA website, Gibbs can actually lock up the title by taking the opening green flag if 29 or fewer cars enter the Reese’s 150.
Along with the title, Gibbs will also walk away from Kansas Speedway with the Valvoline Lap Leader Award. He has piled up 1,590 laps led over the course of the first 19 races, breaking Grant Enfinger’s mark of 1,075 from the 2014 season. Heim is the closest driver to Gibbs with only 405 laps led.
4 Drivers Essentially Face Must-Win Scenarios at Kansas
While there are multiple drivers above the cutline in both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series playoffs, there are four that are in rough situations. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Harrison Burton, and Brandon Jones are all well below their respective cutlines and essentially face must-win situations.
Logano is in the worst position after his engine expired at Texas Motor Speedway and relegated him to a 30th-place finish. He has to make up 43 points in order to advance, so winning at Kansas is his best option. Truex finished 25th at Texas after a hard hit with the outside wall. He is now 22 points below the cutline with two races remaining in the Round of Eight.
Jones and Burton both finished in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway, but neither driver sits in a favorable position heading toward Kansas. Burton is 21 points below the cutline while Jones is 32 points below. Neither Joe Gibbs Racing driver has won during the 2021 season after combining for seven trips to Victory Lane in 2020, but they will likely have to snap this winless streak in order to reach the championship four.