Fantasy Racing: Kansas
Price Chopper 400
Sunday October 4, 2PM ET, ABC
Race Facts: Granted, Kansas Speedway has only hosted eight races, but Jeff Gordon is the only multiple winner. Given the fact that Jimmie Johnson has the highest driver rating at Kansas Speedway, a second Kansas win for Johnson would probably be an even money bet… Five of the eight races at Kansas have been won by drivers who started in the top 10. The furthest back a winner has started was 21st, when Tony Stewart gambled on fuel mileage and won the race on fumes… Even though Johnson has the highest driver rating, he’s not one of the three drivers with an average finish in the top 10 at Kansas.
Drivers to Watch:
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has the highest average finish of any driver at Kansas with a 7.7. Yes, Bowyer has only made three starts at Kansas, but he’s gotten a 12th, a second and finished ninth last season. He won’t have the car to win this weekend, but Bowyer should be a good bet to have a solid run. Kansas is his home track, and don’t count out the extra motivation a team has to run well in front of a driver’s home fans. (As a stat-minded person, it feels horribly cliché to write that, but in a sport that numbers can’t really quantify everything, I believe that there’s some merit to it.) Also, Bowyer will be racing head to head against Carl Edwards for a donation to the Kansas City, Kansas Victory Junction Gang Camp. Whoever finishes higher between the two will have a $100,000 donation given to Victory Junction in his name by Sprint.
Carl Edwards: Like Bowyer, Kansas is Edwards’ home track, and he runs really well there too. Edwards’ average finish would be rivaling Bowyer’s if it wasn’t for the wreck in 2007 after the rain-delayed race restarted. Edwards had a great car, but got caught up when Tony Stewart blew a tire after a previous melee as soon as the race went back green. And also like Bowyer, Edwards probably won’t have a car that’s capable of winning, unless Roush Fenway Racing has figured out the missing corner speed that they’ve been lacking all season.
Brian Vickers: I knew that Vickers had been good at intermediate tracks this season, but he’s actually been better than I thought. Save for one race—a 31st place finish at Darlington—he hasn’t finished any lower than 16th at any intermediate track. Kansas would be a perfect place for Vickers to jump back into the thick of the Chase race, but if he runs well, he’ll more than likely be surrounded by drivers that are also in the Chase, making any points gain minimal.
Drivers to Watch Out For:
Sam Hornish Jr.: If you were looking for an intermediate track antithesis to Brian Vickers, look no further than Slammin’ Sammy. Hornish has one top 10 on an intermediate track—a fifth at Michigan thanks to a fuel mileage gamble—and otherwise, his highest finish is a 16th place. It hasn’t been pretty for the 77 this season, and don’t expect him to buck the trend at Kansas.
Kyle Busch: Believe it or not, Kansas may be Kyle’s worst track. In five starts, Shrub has only one top 10 finish—a seventh—and finished 28th last year. And of course, who can forget 2007 when he got turned into the backstretch wall by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? Given the way that the 18 car has performed this season, it’s conceivable that Busch could dominate the Price Chopper 400. And it’s also conceivable that he could blow a tire and smash the wall on lap 60. But as it’s been all season for him, there will probably be no semi-happy medium.
Jamie McMurray: The forgotten Missouri driver (McMurray grew up about three hours from Kansas Speedway) hasn’t performed nearly as well as the other two local boys. McMurray’s best finish at Kansas is a seventh, but that came all the way back in 2004 when he was driving for Ganassi. Since then, his highest Kansas finish is 17th, which was last year.
Stone Cold Lock of the Week:
Mark Martin: Again, this is a bit of a cop out, but when I saw what car Martin and Alan Gustafson were using for their primary car this weekend, it was a no-brainer. It’s the same car that Martin used to win at Darlington and Chicago—Kansas’ sister track, and he also finished fifth at Atlanta with that car. I don’t care what anyone else says, Martin has become the man to beat for the championship, and given his talent and the equipment he’ll have this weekend, he’s the man to beat on Sunday.
Drivers to Watch: Biffle 13th, Burton 16th, Kenseth 4th
Drivers to Watch Out: Hamlin 22nd, Kahne 8th, Ku. Busch 5th
Stone Cold Lock: Johnson 1st