Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Kansas Speedway: STP 400

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Track history: In 1996, International Speedway Corporation began exploring the Midwest region of the country to find a suitable spot to build a NASCAR race track. After deciding on the Kansas City area, construction began in the Spring of 1999 on the Kansas Speedway.
When the 1.5 mile tri-oval track was completed, it had 15 degree banking in the turns, 10.4 degrees in the 2,721 foot frontstretch and 5 degrees in the 2,207 foot backstretch. There were 75,000 seats at that time. Currently there are over 82,000 grandstand seats and plans are to increase that to a total of 150,000.
NASCAR's Cup, Nationwide (Busch) and Camping World (Craftsman) Truck Series committed to run events at the new facility beginning in 2001. The Indy Racing League joined NASCAR with a planned 2001 event as well. Four stock car racing schools (Richard Petty Driving Experience, Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure and 2 others) and one open-wheel school (Mario Andretti Racing School) are resident at the Kansas Speedway.
A dozen cars were taken out of the 2001 race in wrecks due to blown tires or blown engines. Passing was a problem since the new track only had one groove at the bottom and this was the case in 2002 as well. Second and third grooves came into play after those two races and since then, drivers were able to do some side-by-side racing.

New for 2011: This weekend will be the inaugural Spring race at Kansas Speedway. It is the first year that NASCAR has two races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule at this venue. Teams will have to adjust to a different style of driving at Kansas since all prior races were held during the cooler months of September and October.

September 30, 2001: After driving the No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge to a 176.499 mph qualifying lap, Jason Leffler started on the pole for the first NASCAR Cup race, the Protection One 400. The No. 01 was one of the dozen cars involved in wrecks mentioned above and Leffler placed 28th. Rusty Wallace led a race-high 117 laps and brought the No. 2 Miller Light Ford home in 4th. Jeff Gordon, in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, started 2nd and won the race. The average race speed for that event was 110.576 mph.

October 3, 2010: Greg Biffle won the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods from a 5th place start. It was the No. 16 3M Ford driver's 2nd victory in 2010 and 2nd at Kansas Speedway. Drivers leading 15 or more laps: No. 29-Kevin Harvick (16 laps, finished 3rd), 17-Matt Kenseth (26 laps, finished 7th), Pole-sitter 9-Kasey Kahne (27, crashed 37th), 24-Jeff Gordon (29, 5th), winner Biffle (60 laps) and 14-Tony Stewart led the most (76, finished 4th).

Fantasy games won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. There were 45 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday's STP 400 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Mid-Pack picks

David Reutimann was running in the top 10 early in the October 2010 race at Kansas Speedway until Kyle Busch spun him out. After a payback wreck with Busch, and a NASCAR penalty, Reutimann finished 35th. In his two prior Cup races here he had finishes of 19th and 8th. He had a 3rd and a 10th place Kansas finish in the truck series. He has a 15.3 average finish in three Kansas Nationwide Series starts. Reutimann scored 13 of his 24 Sprint Cup top-ten finishes at the mile and half "cookie-cutter" tracks. Also, 7 of his 11 top-fives were logged at these venues. He won the July 2010 race at Chicagoland Speedway which is very similar to Kansas Speedway.

In four Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway, David Ragan had finishes of 16th, 8th, 35th and 16th. In the 2009 race, he was collected in a wreck on lap 8 when another car spun in front of him to cause his 35th place finish. He finished 3rd in the September 2008 Nationwide Series Kansas event. Ragan had one truck start at the speedway in 2006; finished 6th. If momentum means anything, he's coming off a Sprint Cup career-best finish of 2nd place at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Besides track favorite Johnson's three poles, Kasey Kahne is the only other driver with multiple Kansas Speedway P1 starts. He has two poles (including last October) and three other top ten starts in seven races (12.7 average). Kahne finished in the top ten in two of the last four of those races. We're looking at him again this week because of his recent performance. He had finishes of 3rd at Richmond and 4th at Darlington. Last week at Charlotte, he led the field to the green for the green-white-checker restart but ran out of fuel before the race ended (finished 22nd). Hopefully, he'll have enough Sunoco race fuel to finish this one.

Our deepest pick this week, and one that might be a very reasonable buy in most games, is Casey Mears. He likes running on the 1 to 2 mile tracks. Of his 80 Sprint Cup Series career top 15 finishes; he's logged 51 on tracks of this size. Over the last six races at Kansas, Mears scored the 6th most points of all current drivers and had top 15 finishes in five of those events. NASCAR Statistics rank him 2nd (behind favorite Johnson) in their 'Green Flag Passes' category. He passed 422 cars during green flag conditions over the last 6 Kansas races. Give the No. 13 Toyota driver a look for another possible top 15 at the tail-end of your roster.


Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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