A Closer Look at Kansas Speedway
After a wild and crazy race at Texas Motor Speedway with the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday afternoon, there’s not a long wait for NASCAR fans before the next race comes to the airwaves. The 19th race of the season and the 15th since the NASCAR Cup series returned to action in mid-May after a two-plus month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic comes to you Thursday night from the Sunflower State. It’s the Super State Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway in the last race for the calendar month of July. That will be the start of a hectic three days at Kansas Speedway as the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will run races Friday and Saturday. In addition, the Xfinity Series has a race there Saturday while the ARCA Menards Series runs Friday night as well.
Today, we take a look at some of history of the track itself, along with the relative success (or lack thereof) the current drivers have had at the track and inevitably, do our best to get you up to speed before we begin talking about our top prop bets for the race in the coming days. After seeing fans in attendance at both the All-Star Race in Bristol and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 last week, the decision was made to not have fans in attendance for this weekend’s races. This was the statement released by Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren:
“Over the past month, we have worked closely with public health officials, medical experts as well as state and federal officials to determine if we could run our rescheduled July NASCAR weekend with fans in attendance. After careful and extensive consideration for the health and safety of our fans and the local community, we determined that the most prudent course of action would be to host the races without fans. While it was a difficult decision, the well-being of everyone who comes to our venue is paramount. We appreciate the patience and support from our fans, and look forward to our Fall NASCAR weekend, October 16-18.”
Kansas Speedway has been around for the last couple of decades, with construction of the track having begun in 1999. The construction was completed in early 2001 with the first race run there being the ARCA RE/MAX race on June 2, 2001, which was won by Jason Jarrett, who claimed the win by 2.387 seconds over Frank Kimmel. In the first ever NASCAR Cup Series event held at the track, it was Jeff Gordon taking the checkered flag by .413 seconds over Ryan Newman in the Protection One 400 on September 30, 2001. Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Sterling Marlin rounded out the top five in that particular race.
Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval similar to Chicagoland Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway, among others. The track has the turns progressively banked between 17 and 20 degrees while the front straightaway is banked between nine and 11 degrees. Meanwhile, the back straightaway is banked at five degrees all the way through. The original seating capacity of the venue was 72,000 but over the years, it has been scaled back to 48,000 as of 2019. It’s a lucrative property for the state as it is estimated to generate $243 million a year while providing more than 5,000 jobs for the local economy.
When it comes to experience on this track, a trio of drivers have each raced here 28 times in their careers. Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick comprise that triumvirate, while Jimmie Johnson has run 27 times here. Matt Kenseth rounds out the top five with 25 runs on the track. Ten active drivers have won here with Harvick and Johnson each having three wins to tie with Jeff Gordon for the most all-time. Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano each have two victories at Kansas. Newman, Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch each have one triumph here.
Johnson leads active drivers with nine top-five finishes here while Harvick and Truex Jr. are right behind with eight. Hamlin, Logano, Kenseth and Kyle Busch all are tied for third with seven top-five finishes. Johnson has 19 top-10 finishes here to lead the way while Harvick is second with 15. Kenseth (13), along with Kyle and Kurt Busch, who each have 11, round out the top five. Harvick has five pole wins to lead the drivers while Johnson and Kenseth each have three. Truex Jr. and Logano are the only other drivers with multiple poles as they have two. Harvick has led 855 laps to lead active drivers while Kenseth is next in line with 774. Truex Jr. (759), Johnson (601) and Logano (404) are next in line in that category.
Heading into this race, race, Harvick leads the points standings by 91 points over Ryan Blaney. Keselowski (106 points back), Logano (114 points behind) and Elliott (117 points off the pace) round out the top five. As far the playoff picture goes, Harvick and Hamlin each have four wins to run 1-2 in the standings. Keselowski and Logano have two wins each while Blaney, Elliott, Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Dillon and Cole Custer have all won once. That puts those 10 guys in the playoffs when they begin in September. Currently, that leaves six spots for non-winners to make the playoff field. As of Sunday, that group includes Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.
Green flag time for the race Thursday night is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET with television coverage provided by the NBC Sports Network and the Performance Racing Network.