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Track Talk: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas

Can Kurt Busch hold on for a Playoffs spot in today's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas? (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

Can Kurt Busch hold on for a Playoffs spot in today’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas? (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson)

Each weekend, our panel provides their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR while predicting the winner of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race!

Today, our panelists Adam LucasAshley Hobbs, Ashley HullChristina BowmanCody ShoppeJose Acero JrKatie Copple, Kathleen Cassidy, and Matt Sisoler discuss about the merits of late race cautions and the pressure facing some Playoffs racers at Kansas Speedway!

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Question 1
The last lap that sparked debate at Talladega.

The last lap that sparked debate at Talladega.

Sunday’s finish at Talladega Superspeedway produced polarizing reactions with some who didn’t mind the lack of a caution while others clamored for a yellow.  Should NASCAR continue with this stance or find some consistency with their call?

Acero :  NASCAR showed us once again that they have no idea when it comes to making a consistent call. Yeah i love the fact that no yellow was (otherwise i would have not hit on my #vegasbet on Almirola) but we have seen this over and over that on the last lap a single car spin brings the yellow out and while you have what happened on Sunday, let them race to the finish. Maybe a refresher course on when to or not to throw a yellow would help them tremendously.

Bowman :  As a fan, I am so thrilled with their decision to not throw the yellow. In my opinion, as long as the vehicles made it out of the racing groove and there would be no future racing where the wreck took place, then there really would be no reason for a caution.

I can see the argument that the call was not consistent with what NASCAR has officiated in the past. However, in that moment I think they made the right call. In the future, they do need to figure out a consistent judgement call on this issue or else it will take away the integrity of the organization as a whole.

Cassidy :  I cannot speak to whether or not NASCAR made the right call last week, however, consistency is needed. Although it can be argued that humans make mistakes, the amount of rules and technology NASCAR has leaves no excuses.

Conley :  Consistently inconsistent. That is the trend for the NASCAR officiating booth. We’ve seen NASCAR call a caution on the final lap so quickly, that cars hadn’t even had time to get involved in the crash. And other times, like today. They wait. I can see the reasoning form today’s decision, give fans a good final lap after a lack luster race. But, by doing so, the credibility took a hit. Fans need to know the credibility of the officials is solid, just as much as they need a green flag finish.

Copple :  Can I play both sides here? On one hand, I loved that NASCAR didn’t throw a Caution on the last lap wreck. The wreck was not in the racing field, it wouldn’t impact the outcome of the race, and it let the leaders fight for the win instead of ending under caution. On the other hand, NASCAR needs to be consistent.

At other tracks, if there is a last lap crash, regardless if it’s a playoff race or not, if it’s not going to interfere with the race for the win, then stay green. One thing NASCAR is not is consistent. I think that is where a lot of fans are coming from here is the inconsistency of these calls throughout the year. If the race can stay green to the end, let them race it out. I think these drivers know enough that once the race is over… if there is a wreck on the cool down la[ to avoid it. Let them race it out to the finish!

Hull :  No matter what, the fans are going to complain. I thought it was a good race at the end, despite it being boring in general. However, NASCAR has proven again that they aren’t really consistent with their calls.

Lucas : The fans want carnage, chaos, and cars flipping at Talladega (and usually at Daytona too). If half the field isn’t involved in a wreck or melee, then the race is rendered a dud. Here’s the cold hard fact of what we witnessed this past Sunday. Plate racing during the playoffs is a fickle thing.

Since the current format was introduced, we’ve had several “Paradedega” events go off with very little in the case of cautions. Teams are smart when it comes to strategizing for a plate-playoff race. Joe Gibbs Racing pulled this off several years ago, but was met with a lot of flack over playing it safe and hanging out back for the entire race.

Stewart-Haas Racing dominated the day, holding down positions 1-4 for the majority of the race. Incredible to say the least. Perhaps moving Talladega out of the playoffs would be a good thing then?

Shoppe :  While I was happy to see them let the drivers race it out to the line, I am concerned about the inconsistency.  I guess they just are going to take each situation and judge it individually and we will all just have to live with that.

Sisoler :  NASCAR has had this problem for a while with not having consistent calls, not just on caution/no-cautions, so yeah, they definitely need to find some consistency in their decision making. That being said, I am a fan of cars being able to race back to the line if they won’t come upon the wreck in the course of the charge to the flag, so I did enjoy the finish at Talladega, which was excellent, even though I had picked Almirola to be one of the odd men out.

Question 2
Can Kyle Larson somehow pull off the Playoffs miracle today?

Can Kyle Larson somehow pull off the Playoffs miracle today?

Some heavy hitters find themselves below the cut line heading into Sunday’s Hollywood Casino at Kansas.  Might we see some of these four drivers taking some risks to advance into the Round of 8?

Acero :  All I can say here is, those on the outside looking in, Hail Mary racing! No if’s, and’s or but’s. Checkers or wreckers!

Bowman :  If they are below the cut line, they will be throwing everything they have at Kansas. No question. There is a lot of talent that would currently be eliminated and I think that you will see a bit more aggressive behavior this weekend than normal.

Cassidy :  This is the Playoffs – drivers need to take risk to pull of that win. That is the only choice for some.

Conley :  For Keselowski, he needs that win. I think that’s the only one below the cut line that can legitimately win and move one. Problem for Brad is, the 78. Going to Kansas, is like going to Kentucky. And, we all know Truex has done there of late. I think this weekend is a battle between those two. Everyone else is running for scraps.

Copple :  Some drivers are going to have to give it their all and go for that win in order to advance to the next stage. That’s the problem with Talladega, one of the strongest drivers of the season could be knocked out early at Dega, and that’s it. One bad race can be the end for some teams, but that’s the championship. You have to be on top of your game, every race, no matter what. I think we will see a lot of strategy played out this weekend at Kansas for some of these contenders, trying to get the best possible finish for every stage and the checkered flag.

Hobbs :  I mean, you cannot not take risks if you are on the outside looking in. The goal of a NASCAR driver is to win a championship, so a driver would be silly not to take the necessary risks.

Hull :  This is the final race of the cutoff, so of course they are going to cut corners and take risks. We shall see if this proves for an exciting race at Kansas. But we will be seeing those guys on the cutoff line being aggressive and attempting to get that win.

Lucas :  Welp, so much for bonus points saving the No. 78 team. They’re in a very tight spot heading into Kansas. Your going to have to gamble and do things that are of the abnormal. If you follow suit with everyone else, your not going to make it. Be different, be bold, trick the field!

Shoppe :  It will be interesting with so many good contenders outside the cut line with this Kansas race to go! Hard to believe that with one of the drivers outside getting a win to save themselves, Martin Truex Jr could find himself out at round two! While Kyle Larson is one you would think can win on this mile and a half track to get through, Brad Keselowski did win on the last mile and a half, and Kansas is one of Ryan Blaney’s best tracks!  

Sisoler :  There’s no doubt in my mind. Every driver who is in danger of not advancing to the next round will be taking risks to try and lock down a spot in the Round of 8, especially Kyle Larson, who, after the penalty that his team incurred after Talladega, is in a must-win scenario.

As always, a splendid job by our panelists in an unusually cool race day at Kansas!  Before making the race winning move, let’s review our results from last Sunday at Talladega!


Bowman and Hull had bacon on the mind.

Bowman and Hull had bacon on the mind.

Meanwhile, Hobbs' points lead trims a bunch!

Meanwhile, Hobbs’ points lead trims down…by a bunch!

Alright friends, it’s about that time.  Let’s get crazy and make our picks for today’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas!

Tiongson :  Kurt Busch is probably fuming about that Talladega tease. I see him making it happen at Kansas to score his second win of 2018.

Acero : After reviewing my picks to not make same mistake I did last week, I am going with Brad Keselowski. He will show up in position to win race at the right place and right time!

Bowman : For no other reason other than a good feeling, I’m going with Keselowski.

Copple :  Keselowski gets it done.

Hull :  Keselowski will lock himself in the final 8 with a win.

Shoppe :  Brad Keselowski.

Cassidy :  Kyle Larson pulls off the miracle.

Sisoler :  It’s tricky, because the playoffs brings insanity, especially elimination races. But I think Kyle Larson finds the speed in his car to pull the upset and win.

Conley : Around the outside, in the round three does Joey Logano.

Hobbs :  Outside looking in means Ryan Blaney has to hustle this weekend.

Lucas :  Believe it or not, but Martin Truex Jr actually needs a win to save his season from a premature finale. He’ll get the job done on Sunday.

TPF Stats :  It’s been a quiet round for Happy Harvick, but time to find that Victory Lane again.

That wraps this week’s preview, race fans!  Thanks for joining us for another edition of Track Talk!

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.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Track Talk 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 is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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