Kansas Weekend Preview: Chase Elliott ready to get back on track

Chase Elliott
(Getty Images)

Most drivers would be happy to be fourth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

Chase Elliott, a 21-year-old rising star, is not one of those drivers.

After sitting second in the standings for five consecutive weeks, Chase Elliott has dropped to fourth in the rankings after poor finishes at Richmond (24th) and Talladega (30th).

“I feel like over the past few weeks we really haven’t performed up to our potential,” Elliott said. “As a group, I think anybody in our group would feel the same way. We’ve had some fast cars at times. But, we definitely need to execute races; even on the days that your car is not driving like you want it to.”

The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver hopes that execution happens Saturday in the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1) – the 11th race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

In two starts at Kansas – both in his 2016 rookie season – Elliott owns finishes of ninth and 31st. He’s performed well in the three previous races at intermediate tracks this season, placing fifth at Kansas, third at Las Vegas and ninth at Texas.

Elliott, the 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, is still searching for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win. On the season he has three top-five and six top-10 finishes as well as an average showing of 11.7.

“That execution and doing everything correctly on pit road, restarts, giving the right information, can turn a bad day into a pretty good day,” Elliott said. “So, that’s what we need to do. And we’ll try to make that happen.”

Christopher Bell hopes to continue early-season success at Kansas

Early-season outcomes show Christopher Bell has made the sophomore jump in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

MADISON, IL – JUNE 25: Christopher Bell, driver of the #4 Toyota Toyota, puts the winner sticker on his truck in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 25, 2016 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)

After finishing third in the championship standings as a rookie last year, Bell has started the 2017 campaign with an eighth-place showing (Daytona), a win (Atlanta) and a third-place finish (Martinsville) in the first three races. He paces the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with 201 laps led – 87 more than next-best driver Johnny Sauter.

Bell, second in the standings, trails Sauter by four points, but leads the series with seven playoff points via his two stage wins and one race victory.

He’ll attempt to continue his hot start in Friday’s Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1) – a 1.5-mile track where he finished fourth last year.

“Looking back at last year, Kansas was one of my favorite races, so I’m excited to go back there and compete for a win,” Bell said. “After being so fast earlier this year at Atlanta, I can’t wait to get to Kansas and race another mile-and-a-half track.”

Race Weekend Guide

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Race: Go Bowling 400

Place: Kansas Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 80), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on lap 267)

What To Watch For: Kyle Busch looks to defend his spring victory at Kansas. … Fall Kansas winner Kevin Harvick goes for his second straight win there. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hopes to continue his momentum after picking up his first career win at Talladega last weekend. … Jimmie Johnson tries to take sole possession of Kansas Speedway’s win record by grabbing his fourth career victory there on Saturday night.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Race: Toyota Tundra 250

Place: Kansas Speedway

Date and Time: Friday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250.5 miles (167 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on lap 167)

What To Watch For: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns Friday night after a six-week break. … Johnny Sauter attempts to extend his four-point standings lead over second-place Christopher Bell. … Matt Crafton goes for his third career Kansas win. He finished runner-up in last year’s race. … A Toyota driver has won the last four races at Kansas.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.