For the first time in NASCAR history, the drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take on the slick Kansas Speedway in the heat of June. The STP 400 replaces the fall race at the Auto Club Speedway due to a lack of attendance and the new casino to open near the Kansas Speedway. This is just one of the many changes to the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule. Drivers and teams should expect a hot and slick racetrack, unlike what they undertake when they come to the track in October for chase time.
[media-credit name=”Kansas Speedway” align=”alignright” width=”163″][/media-credit]One question that is on a lot of race fans mind’s coming into Kansas is, “Will the Fords continue their domination like they did over the past two weeks at Charlotte?” All indications are that they will. The Ford camp, especially Roush-Fenway Racing, have been the cars to beat on the 1.5 mile ovals so far this season. Not only are the cars fast, they also handle extremely well. The combination of the two have become deadly as Ford has won four Sprint Cup races this year. It may sound deceiving, but the Fords have been up front at every track. Although they have not always come away with the win, they have been fast and they have been very competitive.
This weekend, we will see the return of popular of the popular Canadian driver, Patrick Carpentier as he hops aboard Franky Stoddard’s FAS Lane Racing Ford. This will be Carpentier’s first Cup start since last season and it will mark the first time that he will not have to qualify for the race as the number 32 is already locked into Sunday’s starting field.
As previously stated, this will be the first time that NASCAR’s premier division makes a stop at Kansas in the month of June. When they have came to Kansas in past events, it was always in the cool fall month of October. This race will present a whole new challenge for the teams as they have never dealt with a hot and slick Kansas Speedway. They will be able to use notes from other 1.5 mile race tracks but remember, not all of them are the same. They all have unique quirks to them that give the drivers a different challenge each time they make a stop at them.
Hot Drivers at Kansas Speedway
Tony Stewart- Stewart is a two time winner at the Kansas oval and has always ran strong here. Smoke was strong at Las Vegas which is the track that most resembles Kansas that we have visited so far this season. Look for a strong run for Smoke.
Carl Edwards- Everyone remembers Carl’s dare devil-esk move on Jimmie Johnson here in 2008. In that race, Carl had the best car at the end of the day. With how strong him and his Roush-Fenway team have been this season, you can never count him out.
Greg Biffle- The numbers say it all about “The Biff” at Kansas Speedway. In nine starts, Biffle has 2 wins, 6 top 5’s, 6 top 10’s and an average finish of 8.1. Needless to say, Greg is very strong at Kansas
Jimmie Johnson- As is the case at just about every track we go to, you can never count out Jimmie Johnson. Johnson won here in 2008 and has seven top 10’s in nine starts at Kansas. The numbers don’t lie here. With a driver like Johnson and Knaus on top of the box, don’t count out Mr. Five Time
Pretty Nifty Pick (Solid Drivers)
Jeff Gordon- In ten starts at Kansas, Gordon has ten top 10 finishes. Even though Jeff hasn’t had the best season this season, when it comes to a strong track for him, he usually runs where he’s supposed to.
Mark Martin- Mark may just be in for a break through run this weekend. Martin, has started every race at Kansas Speedway and has an average finish of 12.6. Hendrick Motorsports has always had good success at Kansas so don’t rule out a possible win or top 10 for NASCAR’s favorite brides maid.
Clint Bowyer- When you come to your home track, you always want to preform at your best. That’s no different for Bowyer. The Kansas native has run well here since his rookie season in the Cup series. With the quality of cars he’s had this year, Sunday could very well be the biggest win for the young driver.
WARNING: DRIVERS LISTED HERE ARE ONES TO STAY AWAY FROM
Joey Logano- For some strange reason, the Kansas oval has not been kind to the young lad from Connecticut over the course of his short career. It has been that way since his debut here in 2008. With how much bad luck the Home Depot crew has had this year, don’t bank on Joey turning it around here
Don’t Sleep On Me!!!
AJ Allmendinger- AJ is having a banner year so far this season. He has shown speed, consistency and many flashes of brilliance. He just hasn’t been able to close the deal. It’s not will AJ get to victory lane, it’s WHEN will he finally put the whole race together. Sunday could be the day.
David Ragan- Like Allmendinger, its a matter of when the Georgia native will pull into victory lane. Ragan once again proved he does belong in the Cup series with a second place finish in the 600 this past Sunday. 1.5 mile race tracks are what David Ragan lives for. Look at that UPS Ford to be a contender this weekend.
My pick for the STP 400- Greg Biffle