Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Kansas: Hollywood Casino 400

Thursday, October 06, 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.

On June 5, 2011, the inaugural Spring race at Kansas Speedway was run. It was the first year that NASCAR held two races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule at this venue.

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).

June 5, 2011: Brad Keselowski won the Inaugural STP 400 from a 25th place start. It was the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver’s 1st victory in 2011. Drivers leading 5 of more laps: winner Keselowski (9 laps), No. 42-Juan Pablo Montoya (10 laps, finished 17th), No. 18-Kyle Busch (11, 12th), No. 14-Tony Stewart (20, 8th), No. 99-Carl Edwards (29, 5th), No. 11-Denny Hamlin (34, 3rd) and No. 22-Kurt Busch led the most (152 laps, finished 9th).

Active driver who made his Cup series debut at Kansas: Denny Hamlin on October 9, 2005.

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 46 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Mid-Pack picks

In five Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway, David Ragan had finishes of 16th, 8th, 35th, 16th and 13th. 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. Ragan had an average running position of 12th during the June 2011 race. He finished 3rd in the September 2008 Nationwide Series Kansas event. Ragan had one truck start at the speedway in 2006; finished 6th. Over the last four NSCS races this season, He also had top 11 finishes in three of the last four NSCS races this season. If you have been holding off on the UPS Ford pilot, this might be a good week to use him.

Besides track favorite Johnson’s three poles, Kasey Kahne is the only other driver with multiple Kansas Speedway P1 starts. He has two poles and three other top ten starts in eight races (13.2 average). Like Ragan, Kahne had a decent average running position here back in June (17th); and he finished 14th. We're looking at him this week because of how he's been running since the Chase started. After Richmond, Kahne had finishes of 12th at Chicago, 15th at Loudon and a 4th last week at Dover. Give the No. 4 driver a look for another possible top 15 this weekend in Kansas.

This might be Mark Martin's last Cup start at Kansas Speedway since he may not be a full-time driver in 2012. He was not at his best in the June race (finished 21st) but he averaged a 9th place finish for his six prior Kansas starts. That included a win in 2005 and, after starting 43rd due to an engine change, a 14th in the October 2010 Price Chopper 400. His worst finish in that six race span was an 18th. That one might have been a lot better if he hadn't been caught speeding in the pits. We think the No. 5 will be running in the top 15 at the end of Sunday's race.

David Reutimann was not a factor at all in the June race but he has had success at the mile and half "cookie-cutter" tracks. Reutimann scored 15 of his 25 Sprint Cup top-ten finishes at these venues. He won the rain-shortened 2009 race at Charlotte and the 2010 race at Chicagoland Speedway (which is very similar to Kansas). Early in the Kansas race last October, Reutimann was running in the top 10 until Kyle Busch spun him out. After a payback wreck with Busch, and a NASCAR penalty, Reutimann finished 35th. He finished 8th here in 2009. 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. Take a gamble on the Dream Machine at the tail end of your roster.



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



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