Monday, April 15, 2013

Kansas Storylines: STP 400

How about Martin Truex Jr this week?
The Kyle Busch that racked up 100 NASCAR national series victories in record time is back – and how.

Busch won his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway, advanced to third in points and tossed in a NASCAR Nationwide Series victory for good measure – a record fourth win in the NNS season’s first six races.

Will Kansas Speedway’s STP 400 extend Busch’s string of five top-five finishes? Good question. Busch has yet to finish higher than seventh in a Cup car at the 1.5-mile track. His Driver Rating is an anemic 81.8; 15th among current drivers. He’s also set to compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series SFP 250.

Speed and the Gen-6 car share the spotlight in mid-America, where NASCAR’s "new car" competes on back-to-back intermediate tracks for the first time. Repaving the 1.5-mile track after its spring race resulted in every qualifier breaking the track record last fall.

Four drivers have two victories apiece in America’s heartland. Points leader Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart bid to become the first competitor to annex a third win.

Martin Truex Jr. finished second in both 2012 Kansas Speedway races – and again last weekend in Texas. The driver of the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota would like to end a winless streak that reached 210 races last Saturday night.

With the NASCAR Nationwide Series taking a one-week break, drivers and teams have time to digest a significantly compressed points picture – the result of leader Sam Hornish Jr.’s accident and 34th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Hornish continues as the leader but by just two points over David Ragan.

NASCAR Camping World Truck teams test Kansas Speedway’s new surface for the first time in Saturday’s SFP 250. There have been no repeat winners in 12 races at the track. Four previous winners are among the entries: reigning series champion James Buescher (2012), Johnny Sauter (2010), Ron Hornaday Jr. (2008) and Todd Bodine (2005).


Kyle Busch Red-Hot But Kansas Represents Challenge

Two victories among five consecutive top-five finishes is proof the "real" Kyle Busch has returned to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Thirty-third in points after the season’s second race, Busch has climbed to third in the standings. Kansas Speedway, however, could represent a speed bump. In 11 trips to the 1.5-mile track, Busch has yet to finish higher than seventh.

Kansas Speedway Equals Blazing Speed
If it’s pure speed you’re looking for, Kansas Speedway has your ticket. Following last summer’s repave, lap speeds increased dramatically, from an existing track record of 180.856 mph to Kasey Kahne’s 191.360. Every qualifier eclipsed Matt Kenseth’s old mark. Now an even faster Gen-6 car is headed for America’s heartland. Drivers believe there’s only one way for speeds to go – and that’s up. Sunday’s race marks the first time Gen-6 will compete on an intermediate track in consecutive weeks.

Leader Johnson, Three Rivals, Pursue Third Kansas Victory
Can Kansas Speedway’s first three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner emerge on Sunday? Pick from several who have won twice: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart. Each member of the quartet ranks among the top five in Loop Data Driver Rating with Johnson’s whopping 119.5 topping the list. Johnson, who finished sixth in Texas, continues as the series points leader.

Truex Hopes To Shed Bridesmaid’s Role In Kansas
Martin Truex Jr. is a good pick – a very good pick - to win Sunday’s STP 400. It was a case of "woulda, coulda, shoulda" for the New Jersey veteran, who led 173 laps of last spring’s race but finished second to Denny Hamlin. Truex was second again in October. A visibly frustrated Truex posted yet another second-place finish on Saturday in Texas – losing the lead and the race when Kyle Busch beat his No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota out of the pits on the final stop.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Etc.
Brian Vickers’ eighth-place finish in Texas – his first race in relief of injured Denny Hamlin – preserved a top-10 ranking in owners points for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The team ranks eighth. … Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush are tied with four wins apiece for most victories at Kansas Speedway. A Hendrick car (Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48) last won in the fall of 2011. Roush Fenway Racing’s most recent victory (Matt Kenseth) came last October. … Four different manufacturers have won the past four races at Kansas Speedway.

- NASCAR Media Services

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