|Kevin Harvick is on quite a roll at Kansas.|
I want more of it, but we go Kansas Speedway's 1.5-mile cookie-cutter. I'm not terribly excited, but it's Saturday night, the lights are on and I'm hoping for a great night of thrills. Maybe a couple a post-race rifts? Hopefully. The craziest part of this season so far me is Joe Gibbs Racing not winning a race yet, and it's not likely to happen Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, either. These type of 1.5-mile tracks used to be JGR's bread and butter, but they no longer have any speed on them. They're no where near being close to where Team Penske or Kyle Larson is. Kyle Busch, who won this race last season, only has four top-10 finishes this season. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth also have only four top-10s.
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano each have a series-leading six top-five finishes.
I'm told the JGR lack of speed is likely to continue through the regular season and that the Toyota guys will have something spicy-fast ready for the playoffs, which if started right now Kenseth wouldn't be eligible to participate.
This is the fourth of 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Keselowski won at Atlanta, Martin Truex, Jr. won at Las Vegas and Jimmie Johnson won at Texas. All three of those tracks are banked steeper than Kansas and run much faster. Larson finished second in all three of those races. Logano and Keselowski were each sixth or better in all three and Chase Elliott was fifth, fourth and ninth. Between the four JGR drivers, they combined for just one top-five: Kenseth's third-place at Atlanta.
I think we're going to see much of the same patterns from the first three races on similar tracks, and I think we can also throw Fontana in as great reference tool, a race where the same dominant guys did well with Larson winning and Keselowski, Truex and Logano all in the top-five. Looking at those four races should help you find the winner this weekend, but let's glance over some past Kansas history just to get a feel for who has shown to like how the track runs.
Kenseth has two wins and a track record 774 laps led in 22 starts, but he's a hard look this week with no speed. Kyle Busch has finished in the top-five in his last four Kansas starts, but he's a hard sell as well under current circumstances despite a nice four race run.
"We ran third there in the fall of 2014," Busch said. "I wasn’t there in the spring race of 2015 since that was the last race I was recovering from my injury, but (Erik) Jones ran up front until he ended up wrecking. Last fall, Adam (Stevens) and the M&M’S guys did an awesome job and we ran top-five again. The last few races there, the track really has started to change and the groove is starting to spread out, and it makes me more comfortable when a track gets worn in."
Kevin Harvick is an interesting candidate this week just because of his history which has seen him finish first or second at Kansas in five of his last seven starts. He's got two wins and has led 549 laps. The thing that makes him stand out most as a good bet this week is leading a race-high 292 laps at Atlanta and 77 laps at Texas. He's using that same Atlanta this week
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