Kansas Has Been Good to JR Motorsports in the Playoffs

Ron Lemasters | 10/21/2021

Kansas Speedway News Playoffs XFINITY Series

A staple of the NXS playoff since 2016, Kansas serves as a pivotal race in the Round of 8. Despite never winning at the 1.5-mile oval, JRM has enjoyed success in the track's fall race over the last seven years.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 21, 2021) -- Kansas Speedway has been a staple of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs since 2016, and while a JR Motorsports driver has never won there in 44 team starts, the 1.5-mile oval has been, for the most part, a good track for the four-car squad.

JR Motorsports has had at least one driver in the Championship 4 in every season since its inception, and the road to the final race with a shot at the title runs through Kansas. Twice in the five years of the format, a JRM driver has emerged with a championship, so Kansas plays a very important role in that success.

For the last five seasons, Kansas has been the middle race in the Round of 8, which sets up the cutoff race for the Championship 4.

"The biggest thing is to go and manage the race at Kansas correctly, with stage points and a decent finish," said Jason Burdett, crew chief for Justin Allgaier's No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet. "Obviously, if you can win the race that makes Martinsville really great, but if we can go there and have a solid day, not make any mistakes...it doesn't alleviate the pressure of the cutoff at Martinsville, but at least it doesn't make it so you have to make up points.

"That's the worst position to be in, trying to force other people into mistakes. We need to have a clean day and hopefully it gives us some breathing room going to Martinsville."

The best performance, by a good margin, at Kansas in the playoffs came in 2017, the second year of the new format. Eventual champion William Byron was fourth, Justin Allgaier was fifth and Elliott Sadler seventh in the race, leaving the Land of Oz as the top three drivers in the playoff points. All three would earn places in the Championship 4, and Byron finished third in the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to earn the team's second NXS championship.

The following year, 2018, saw Tyler Reddick earn a fifth-place finish at Kansas on the way to the Championship 4. As the only JRM representative in the final race, Reddick put on a rim-riding display and won the winner-take-all event to make it two championships in a row for JRM. Elliott Sadler was fifth at Kansas, but failed to make the Championship 4.

JRM cars have earned 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in fall races at Kansas Speedway over the last seven seasons dating back to 2014. Chase Elliott clinched JRM's first series title with one race remaining in the season. The current format began two seasons later in 2016.

Overall, JRM has notched 13 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in a combined 44 starts at Kansas, a virtual twin to Chicagoland Speedway. Interestingly, JRM has won three races at Chicagoland while posting virtually identical marks in top fives (12) and top 10s (25).

Kansas is a track that can be line-sensitive, given the time of year and the weather on race day. If the top line is good, it's the fast way around. The bottom works, but blending to run the straightaways, especially off Turn 2, can be hazardous.

Noah Gragson found that out early in last year's event, coming off Turn 2 on the low line and having a car change lanes into his right front fender. The resulting damage put Gragson out of the race (damaged vehicle policy) with a 36th-place finish. That incident put the young driver into a position where he had to win at Martinsville to advance to the Championship 4.

While Kansas isn't a must-win scenario for any of the JRM drivers in the championship hunt, a victory would relieve the pressure of having to point one's way in. As it stands, Allgaier is third in the driver playoff standings, four points above the cut line, while teammate Gragson is two points to the good. The Kansas Lottery 300 airs this Saturday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • October 30 06:00 PM ET
    Dead On Tools 250Martinsville Speedway
  • November 6 08:30 PM ET
    NXS ChampionshipPhoenix Raceway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Kansas Lottery 300

Kansas Speedway | 10/23/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric (P)31390
2AJ Allmendinger (P)31390
3Justin Allgaier (P)3101-38
4Daniel Hemric (P)3099-40
5Justin Haley (P)3092-47
6Noah Gragson (P)3075-64
7Brandon Jones (P)3059-80
15Michael Annett603-2536
27Sam Mayer #281-2858