Race: Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods
Date: Sunday October 3rd, 2010
Track: Kansas Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
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With Dover and Loudon under their belts, the drivers are moving on to Kansas Speedway chasing the Cup championship this weekend. Jimmie Johnson won last weekend on the Monster Mile, and although Clint Bowyer won that Magic Mile in New Hampshire, he lost 150 driver points over a quarter-sized infraction on one of his fenders, so he’s not doing so well in the points. That just goes to show the caliber of the teams that are going after the Cup. No one can afford any mistake, let alone a failed inspection like Bowyer in this Chase. His championship dreams have come to a screeching halt. Johnson showed last weekend why he is once again on the drive for 5 with his ability to cleanly race and come out with the wins, which is what matters most in this chase.
Kansas is a track still in its infancy with looking at how long we’ve been racing Cup cars here. Its history only dates back to the early 2000s which is nothing when compared to tracks like Martinsville that have history dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. Because of that, there are very few drivers if any who can claim to have mastered this track. It’s a fun one to watch because of that fact.
Kansas is the biggest track of the Chase so far, at about mile longer than Dover and Loudon. This track is a 1.5 mile D-shaped oval with 15 degree banking in the turns, 10.4 degree banking on the frontstretch, and 5 degree banking on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 2685 feet while the backstretch comes in at 2207 feet.
In particular, track position plays a big role here. With the exception of Kasey Kahne and Mark Martin, no one outside the top 11 has won here. Maintaining that track position and having good pit stops is extremely important. You will see drivers pull out in front of the pack and hold a few seconds over the rest of the field. Tires also help these guys get to the front and stay out there.
The previous winner here is Tony Stewart. He has another win from 2006 while Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, and Greg Biffle also have a win. Jeff Gordon won 2 races back in 2001 and 2002. Based on those stats and knowing how these guys have run this year, I’m going to say that Jeff and Jimmie are obviously your best bets here, but my money is on Jeff Gordon. He has been itching for a win and desperately needs one to keep his championship hopes alive. As we all know, when I do not pick Jimmie, he generally wins, so keep that in mind. I think he will certainly be a contender, but this is always a particularly good track for Gordon. With his consistently strong finishes recently (with the exception of Dover) and his good cars, I think that we may just see Gordon in the winner’s circle this weekend.
Here’s a recap of your Chasers after Dover:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kurt Busch
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Carl Edwards
7. Jeff Burton
8. Jeff Gordon
9. Greg Biffle
10. Tony Stewart
11. Matt Kenseth
12. Clint Bowyer
There are only 83 points separating Hamlin and Gordon, so the Chase still belongs to anyone at this point. Never count out Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart here either. This is a track where they can make up some ground. Tony sits 162 points back, but Edwards still has a good shot with only 73 points between himself and the leader. This weekend should sort out even more who are the true Chasers and who is falling to the wayside. With this still being a very good 8 car battle, Kansas is definitely going to get interesting! Stay tuned as we watch these guys race it out for the Chase with only 8 races left in the season!