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.
This will be the last race on the “old” track. Right after this weekend's races, the speedway will begin removing the track's oval racing surface and repave it with variable banking. Also, they will construct a new road race course through the infield to bring in Grand-Am races. All of this will have to be completed before NASCAR returns for the second 2012 Cup race at Kansas on October 21st.
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 Lite 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.
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).
October 9, 2011: Jimmie Johnson won the Hollywood Casino 400 from a 19th place start. It was the No. 48 Chevrolet driver’s 2nd victory in 2011 and 1st in 11 starts at Kansas Speedway. Drivers leading 15 or more of the 272 lap event: Pole-sitter No. 16 Greg Biffle (23 laps, finished 8th), No. 17 Matt Kenseth (26 laps, finished 4th) and winner Johnson led the most (197 laps).
Active drivers who made their Cup series debut at Kansas: Denny Hamlin on October 9, 2005 and Austin Dillon on October 9, 2011.
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 Matt Kenseth. There were 46 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.
Kasey Kahne’s 2012 season was junk until last week’s 7th place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It wasn’t for lack of trying; six top ten starts including two poles so far this year. He also qualifies well at Kansas Speedway. He started 8th or better (2 poles) in six of his nine races. His 17th place average finish puts him in the mid-pack range at this track. In the two races held here in 2011, Kahne had an average running position of 17th in the June race and a 12th place average in the October race. He finished 14th in June and almost closed the deal in October’s Hollywood Casino 400. He was chasing down track favorite Jimmie Johnson during the green-white-checker finish but came up short to finish in 2nd place by a margin of only .548 seconds. Give the No. 5 Chevy a look this week.
Mark Martin’s worst finish over the last eight races at Kansas Speedway was a 21st in the June 2011 STP 400. In the other seven, he scored an 18th or better including a win in 2005 and a 10th last October. That 2005 victory was from a 43rd place start due to an engine change. Martin carries a 13.1 average finish for his 12 starts; a 9.8 for the last eight. Of the ten drivers who started all 12 races held at this track, he logged the most laps (3,133). We liked him last week at Texas and he came through with a 3rd place. Martin’s lowest finish in five starts this year was an 18th at Vegas. Find a spot for the No. 55 Toyota on your fantasy roster this weekend.
AJ Allmendinger had finishes of 9th, 17th and 10th in his first three starts at the Kansas City area track. Then came the 2011 season when his Richard Petty Motorsports ride was up in the air. His results of 27th and 25th at Kansas were typical of that season. With more stability after his move to Penske Racing this season, AJ is back racing like he did pre-2011. He has an average running position of 14.5 and averaged a 12.3 finish for the last four races this season. We don’t expect a win, but a top 15 is not out of the question for the No. 22 Dodge Charger driver on Sunday.
We’re going out on that limb again with a deep pick. Normally, with top 13 finishes in five of his last six starts at Kansas, you would think he’s an easy pick for another top 15. That’s not the case for Kurt Busch. This year, the ‘new’ Kurt is less aggressive, more humble, not as demanding with his new smaller team and is not racking up his usual numbers. That being said, he finished 9th and 13th in two of the last three races this season, so we think there’s hope for the No. 51 Chevrolet driver this week. If you want to save one of your favorite picks for another time, give the new Kurt a look this week.