Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Joey Logano: Logano held off Kevin Harvick down the stretch to win at Kansas and punch his ticket to the championship round at Phoenix.
“Harvick was looming in my rear-view mirror for the last 40 laps,” Logano said. “But I didn’t even notice, because I was looking ahead to Phoenix. And while the heat is on the rest of the playoff field, I’ll be able to chill.”
2. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished second at Kansas.
“I just couldn’t find my way around Joey Logano,” Harvick said. “He made passing almost impossible, as did NASCAR’s rules package. It’s almost like the ‘fix’ was in. Maybe the ‘fix’ will be this offseason, when NASCAR can hopefully change the rules to make racing at intermediate tracks more watchable.”
3. Chase Elliott: Elliott finished sixth at Kansas and now finds himself below the playoff cutoff line.
“We’re not hitting the panic button just yet,” Elliott said. “But we are familiarizing ourselves with its whereabouts.”
4. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin brushed the wall early at Kansas and eventually finished 15th.
“It’s never a good time to hit the wall,” Hamlin said, “especially in the middle of the NASCAR playoffs. In my defense, it was ‘crunch’ time.”
5. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski came home fourth at Kansas as Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano took the win.
“Joey drove a heck of a race,” Keselowski said. “Now, he’s sitting pretty. He’s also sitting in the driver’s seat, as well as the catbird seat.”
6. Alex Bowman: Bowman finished third in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.
“Not many people expected me to make it to the Round Of 8,” Bowman said. “But I proved I belong. And unless I do something big in Texas, it won’t ‘be long’ before I’m out of the playoffs.”
7. Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex finished ninth at Kansas.
“We need a win in the worst way,” Truex said. “So we have to put it all on the line. And, fitting of the state of Texas, we’re going there with guns blazing.”
8. Aric Almirola: Almirola finished 13th at Kansas, and will need a win in either of the next two races to advance.
“Kyle Larson has filed for reinstatement,” Almirola said. “I think NASCAR will reinstate him, and a top team will sign him, to probably the most ‘carefully worded’ contract in the sport’s history.”
9. Kyle Busch: Busch finished fifth in the Hollywood Casino 400.
“Since I’m out of championship contention,” Busch said, “I’m just going through the motions. Heck, I’d rather not even run the last three races. Honestly, I don’t think anyone would notice if I wasn’t there, especially anyone standing in Victory Lane.”
10. Kurt Busch: Busch’s engine expired on Lap 193 at Kansas and he finished 38th.
“My race came to a halt real quick,” Busch said. “I went from about 750 horsepower to no horsepower. So, ‘Whoa‘ is me.”