Podium Preview: Hollywood Casino 400

Despite locking into the Round of 8, Kyle Larson wants more Playoff points in today's Hollywood Casino 400. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Despite locking into the Round of 8, Kyle Larson wants more Playoff points in today’s Hollywood Casino 400. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

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Question 1
By all means, Alex Bowman finds himself in a must win scenario at Kansas. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

By all means, Alex Bowman finds himself in a must win scenario at Kansas. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

It seems like the Round of 12 belongs to the young guns of NASCAR.  Should this pattern hold this Sunday at Kansas, which young racer seems destined to win the Hollywood Casino 400?

Sisoler :  It’s always a tricky question to answer when you come to Kansas, which has been shown to cause shake-ups in playoffs past. With how strong Alex Bowman was here in the last Cup Series race, he’s the one to watch, although it also depends on how well qualifying speed translates to race pace. If that qualifying speed does translate to today’s race, watch out for the polesitter, one Mr. Daniel Hemric, to have a shot to throw a Goodwrench (see what I did there?) into the playoff hunt.

Hobbs :  This depends on where you cutoff the “young” from the veteran driver 😉 Historically, Kansas Speedway has benefit the older and wiser, but Chase Elliott bucked that trend by winning last year. Infact, since Elliott finds himself in a bit of a pickle and a win, again, would get him into the next round. Ryan Blaney also has put together some nice finishes in his 4 visits here in the Fall. Being that he is locked into the next round, he might try to add another win before the day is over and make the remaining (less Kyle Larson) fight to the end.

Acero :  No doubt that NASCAR’s young stars are demonstrating that they have what it takes to fight mano a mano with the league’s veterans in the circuit. But never count the drivers with time under their belt to not bounce back and show the youngsters that they have that drive in them. Looking for the old timers to make lots of noise this weekend in Kansas! 

Brown :  From what we have seen in the past 2 races at Kansas, I think the trend could continue. Chase Elliott won this race last year, and there is no reason to think he won’t be a factor on Sunday. Larson also ran good here in the fall last year. He loves to run the top line, so this track fits his driving style perfectly. I also think Bowman could be a major factor in the race. He finished 2nd at Kansas in the spring, and he is in a must win situation. I think tomorrow will be another strong showing for the young guns!

Bowman :  The young guns may have dominated the first two races in the Round of 12. But, you can’t really say that Talladega didn’t take a bit of chance for Blaney to win, especially after that spin. Historically veteran drivers tend to get the win at Kansas (with the exception of Chase Elliot). You cannot count out the tenacity of some of these younger drivers looking to solidify their spot in the next round.  

Question 2
In the long run, Leavine Family Racing has the makings for a bright future. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

In the long run, Leavine Family Racing has the makings for a bright future. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

While the optics of NASCAR have changed over time, which current small or budding Cup team has the most potential to be the next Furniture Row Racing organization in terms of rags to riches?

Tiongson :  While it’s easy to see Leavine Family Racing being a Furniture Row Racing success story, I’d like to think Front Row Motorsports has potential. Sure, they’ve been around longer than Furniture Row Racing.  However, they’ve weathered a lot of economical storms in NASCAR.

If their owners continue to invest wisely and play their cards right, especially with the Next Gen vehicle rolling out in 2021, they could turn some heads.  Their next big move could be catalyzed by David Ragan’s successor along with who they align themselves with in the future.

Conley : I have to say Levine Family Racing is the obvious choice with the addition of Christopher Bell and the additional Toyota support. But, I do believe that we are going to see a major resurgence of Wood Brothers in 2020. In fact, I’ll say it now. The 21 outruns the 95 in points next season. 

Lambeth: Without a doubt, the answer has to be Leavine Family Racing. In 2020, they will receive significant backing from Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD. The addition of Christopher Bell should help this organization build off Matt DiBenedetto’s performances next season. 

We’ve rolled the dice twice and the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas has treated us well!  Before we proceed, let’s rewind to last Monday’s action at Talladega with our race and points reports!
Brown earned his first checkered flag as a rookie in waiting.

Brown earned his first checkered flag as a rookie in waiting.

Meanwhile, yours truly returns to the points lead!

Meanwhile, yours truly returns to the points lead!

Race fans, let’s start “Crunching the Numbers” with Ashley Hobbs as she prepares to get you to fall in love with numbers.
RCR may be a bargain team to watch with today's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas!

RCR may be a bargain team to watch with today’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas!

Since 2004, the race winner at Kansas has an average starting spot of 8.9, led an average of 81.9 laps, started inside the top-five about 46.67% of the time, and started inside the top-10 about 53.33% of the time.

Since 2004, the race winner at Kansas has an average starting spot of 8.9, led an average of 81.9 laps, started inside the top-five about 46.67% of the time, and started inside the top-10 about 53.33% of the time.

It's about even as it gets with past Cup champs.

It’s about even as it gets with past Cup champs.

Here's the trends at Kansas since 2009.

Here’s the trends at Kansas since 2009.

How about those trends at Kansas since 2014?

How about those trends at Kansas since 2014?

The infernal machine foresees Harvick as the victor at Kansas.

The infernal machine foresees Harvick as the victor at Kansas.

By all means, the panelists are ready and it’s about time! Here’s our picks for today’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas!
It's Hendrick versus NASCAR's powerhouse teams at Kansas!

It’s Hendrick versus NASCAR’s powerhouse teams at Kansas!

Bowman :  I have to put my money with my namesake and pray Alex Bowman makes it to the next round. 

Acero :  Bowman The Showman gets it done in Kansas!

Conley :  He got in on a similar track at Chicagoland. Alex Bowman needs the win and will advance at Kansas. 

Lambeth :  He will take care of unfinished business, after coming close to winning the spring race. Alex Bowman takes the checkered flag and advances to the Round of 8.

Tiongson :  Brad Keselowski hasn’t done much yet in the Playoffs but look for Driver 2 to sweep the season races at Kansas!

Sisoler :  I thought about going with the pack and taking Alex Bowman, and had him penciled in. But you know what, I’m gonna trust the guy who grew up in my hometown. Brad Keselowski is gonna go to Victory Lane and sweep Kansas in 2019!

Brown :  William Byron gets the upset win in the heartland and advances to the round of 8.

Hobbs :  I am hoping for Martin Truex Jr to find some Playoff magic at the end of the Round of 12!

TPF Stats :  It’s no surprise The Machine has Stewart Haas Racing, Team Penske, and Joe Gibbs Racing on the podium; but who is going to be top dog at the end of Sunday? The favor goes to Stewart Haas Racing and Kevin Harvick rising to the top.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races in 2019. 

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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