Cup Chase rolls into Kansas

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There’s a multi-car pileup at the top of the Chase standings heading into the fourth race of NASCAR’s postseason schedule on Sunday, the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (2:00pm ET, ESPN).

Kurt Busch won last week’s event, the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, while Jimmie Johnson was second, Carl Edwards was third, Kevin Harvick was 10th, and Tony Stewart had to settle for a 25th-place result.

Add those finishes to the results of the first two races of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup and you have Harvick and Edwards tied atop the standings with 2,122 points apiece. Stewart and Busch then sit nine points back of the series co-leaders, while defending Sprint Cup champion Johnson lurks only 13 points out of first place.

Here’s a look at the updated standings after the third race of the 2011 Chase . . .

01 Kevin Harvick 2122
01 Carl Edwards 2122
03 Tony Stewart 2113 (-9)
03 Kurt Busch 2113 (-9)
05 Jimmie Johnson 2109 (-13)
06 Brad Keselowski 2108 (-14)
06 Matt Kenseth 2108 (-14)
08 Kyle Busch 2107 (-15)
09 Jeff Gordon 2103 (-19)
10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2088 (-34)
11 Ryan Newman 2081 (-41)
12 Denny Hamlin 2054 (-68)

Kenseth was fifth at Dover, while Keselowski was 20th, Kyle Busch was sixth, and Gordon was 12th, keeping all four of those drivers within 19 points of the series lead.

Earnhardt Jr. ended up in 24th place at the AAA 400, while Newman was 23rd, and Hamlin wound up in 18th place. Those three drivers need a strong result at the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday to get back into the series’ championship picture.

The reworked Sprint Cup championship betting board at Oddsmaker has Edwards and Harvick as the +350 favorites to win the title, with Johnson at +400, and both Stewart and Kyle Busch at +500. Gordon, Keselowski, and Kurt Busch are all sitting at +600 odds right now to win the championship down in Miami in November.

Kenseth offers some value at +2000 to be crowned the Sprint Cup champion this year, with Earnhardt Jr. back at +7500, Newman at +10000, and Hamlin at +30000.

Greg Biffle won this week’s race last season when it was still called the Price Chopper 400, and he also took the checkered flag in the LifeLock 400 at Kansas back in September 2007. Stewart and Gordon also have a pair of Cup wins at Kansas – Stewart in 2009 and 2006, and Gordon in 2002 and 2001.

Keselowski won the STP 400 on the track back in June as Kansas began hosting two races per season. Johnson (2008), Newman (2003), and Mark Martin (2005) have also come up as winners in Cup races at the venue.

Oddsmaker will have your complete Hollywood Casino 400 betting board this week.

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