|Is Jimmie Johnson too strong at Kansas for the Gibbs gang?|
But there are plenty of logical reasons to suggest they won’t win. For starters, only one of those victories came on a 1.5-mile track.
Three races this year — Atlanta, Las Vegas and Texas — have been on 1.5-mile tracks, and one (Fontana) has been on a two-mile layout. The new low downforce package is being run on all nonrestrictor-plate tracks, but it has the most profound effect on these types just because of the high speeds.
Among those four races, Jimmie Johnson won twice and was at least fourth in the other two. He’s the only driver with top-fives in those races.
He’s been at his best on these types of tracks during his career, and the new package allows him to have additional freedom to create more speed coming in and out of turns. He maximizes it well, especially late in races.
Johnson has a series-best three wins at Kansas and a track-best 8.7 average finish. He’s finished ninth or better in 13 of his past 14 starts there.
It’s why he’s a 5-1 favorite despite the stellar JGR practices. Johnson had the fourth-fastest lap during the final practice and the fastest 10-consecutive lap average during the early session.
BEST VALUE AMONG FAVORITES
There are probably 14 drivers who can legitimately win this race. Only Joe Nemecheck’s win starting from the pole in 2004 saw a payout at Kansas above 20-1. The other 19 races have been won from drivers at 12-1 odds or less. So among those pool of drivers this week, the best value might be Joey Logano at 8-1. After a rocky start to his Kansas career with no top-10s in his first eight starts, he’s had top-five finishes in his past five, including wins in two of three. Don’t worry about his mediocre practice times. Some drivers are comparing the Las Vegas grip to Kansas, and it should be noted that Team Penske finished 1-2 in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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