As we head into the Kansas Speedway for this Sunday’s running of the Hollywood Casino 400, we are reminded of just how crucial it is to get a plan together to ‘nail’ down the 1.5-mile tracks.
So, to further analyze how each driver will do, we must first take a gander at their average finishes for both the 1.5-mile tracks as well as their average finish at Kansas Speedway.
1. CARL EDWARDS- It may be shocking for some, but Edwards has averaged a 5.571 place finish at 1.5-mile tracks. The only time Edwards placed outside the top-five at a 1.5-mile track was at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 (finished P16). Having said that, Edwards has an average finish of 11.375 at Kansas Speedway, as he will definitely be one to watch for this weekend.
2. TONY STEWART- While Stewart’s 1.5-mile track average is just shy of Edwards, it’s still pretty decent coming in at 7.857. Having said that, Stewart might be the man to beat at Kansas Speedway. After coming off an impressive win at Chicagoland Speedway to start off the Chase, his eyes immediately focused on Kansas (even though Stewart also won at New Hampshire). Chicagoland, which is similar to Kansas, provides Stewart the exact amount of courage he needs to run well Sunday afternoon.
3. KURT BUSCH- Want to know an impressive stat about this ‘elder’ Busch brother? Even though Busch has not won at a 1.5-mile track this season, he has seven top-10 finishes in seven races (avg finish of 7. 286). With that being said, Busch has had several dismal performances at the fast Midwest track (avg finish of 18.09).
4. MATT KENSETH- Kenseth has turned a few heads this season, as he went out and shocked the NASCAR world by winning in a dominant fashion at Texas, while outsmarting the rest of the field at Dover to secure two wins. Now is a different. When it comes to 1.5-mile tracks, Kenseth is king as he has an average finish of 9.714. However, this does not constitute for how well he will run this Sunday. Kenseth isn’t the strongest at Kansas (avg finish of 19.273), but I still wouldn’t count him out.
5. JIMMIE JOHNSON- Johnson has an average finish of 10.57 at 1.5-mile tracks, something to keep in mind as he is hoping to move up even more in the points standings to secure his sixth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Johnson also has one career win at Kansas Speedway.
6. KEVIN HARVICK- Isn’t shocking that Harvick, our current points leader, has never finished better than third at Kansas Speedway? Harvick has an average finish of 14.273 at Kansas Speedway.
7. BRAD KESELOWSKI- Not only did Keselowski win at this track last June, but he also has an average finish of 11. 71 at 1.5-mile tracks this season. They key for Sunday- Don’t lose track of the ‘blue deuce’.
8. DALE EARNHARDT JR.- Junior finished P2 last June at Kansas Speedway, which matched his highest finish of the year. Junior has also averaged 11.14 at 1.5-mile tracks for 2011, but don’t let that overshadow what he has done at Kansas (avg finish of 17.545).
9. JEFF GORDON- Gordon hasn’t had the finishes he would like to have had at 1.5-mile tracks (avg finish of 16.86), but that doesn’t seem to bother the previous NSCS champion, as he won Atlanta earlier this season. Having said that, Gordon does have two career wins at Kansas and an excellent average of 8.091, best among the Chasers.
10. DENNY HAMLIN- Hamlin has had an average finish of 12.14 at the 1.5-mile tracks this season. Also, his career best is P3 at Kansas where his average finish is 15.714.
11. RYAN NEWMAN- Newman has shocked most this season, including myself. With that shocking, Newman has an average finish of 13.86 on the 1.5-mile tracks, he also won at this track in 2003 (avg finish of 17.213).
12. KYLE BUSCH- Another crazy stat- In seven 1.5-mile races this year, Busch has an average finish of 20.57 (worst among all 2011 Chasers). Busch’s average at Kansas Speedway isn’t that impressive either, an astonishing average of 22.375.