Friday’s schedule at the Kansas Speedway was jam-packed, with Nextel Cup practice and qualifying, Busch Series practice, and USAC Silver Crown Series practice and qualifying.
In the first Nextel Cup practice earlier this morning, Kasey Kahne recorded the fastest speed at 177.532 mph, with Jimmie Johnson, Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers and Scott Riggs rounding out the top five. Those spends weren’t just for show, as Kahne ended up with the pole, followed by Riggs, Johnson, Vickers and JJ Yeley, with Sadler qualifying ninth.
On tap Saturday: The Cup cars will take to the track for the first of two final practices at 8:30 a.m. CT, followed by an NBC Exhibition Run and Cup final practice at 10:05 a.m. The Busch Series will qualify at 11:05 a.m. CT and the race begins at 2:05 p.m. Following the Busch Series race, at approximately 4:45 p.m. CT, the drivers of the USAC Silver Crown Series will hit the track for their first ever race at the Kansas Speedway.
As for the weather for this weekend’s events, there is no threat of rain and the temperature should be nice! A high of 78 is expected on Saturday, while the race temperature for Sunday’s Nextel Cup race should be around 84.
Results from the First Nextel Cup Practice
The first Nextel Cup Series practice is over and Evernham Motorsports is showing strength with all three drivers in the top five on the speed chart. Kahne’s No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge was the fastest of 47 cars, with a speed of 177.532 mph. Johnson was .197 seconds slower than Kahne in second, with Sadler, Vickers and Riggs rounding out the top five.
Kyle Busch No. 1 in First Busch Series Practice
The first Busch Series practice of the weekend has commenced with Kyle Busch leading the pack with a speed of 171.065 mph. Behind him was Jason Leffler, Burton, Bowyer, Hamlin, Kenseth, Edwards, Harvick, Biffle and Kluever rounding out the top 10.
Reutimann Leads in Busch Series Rookie Practice
Of the 14 rookies who participated in this afternoon’s Busch Series rookie practice, Reutimann, behind the wheel of Michael Waltrip’s No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge, recorded the fastest time with 168.529 mph. Earnhardt Jr.’s driver, Huffman, was second, followed by Kluever, Vidovich, and Leicht, who was fifth.
Keselowski was sixth, followed by Almirola, Coleman, Andretti, and O’Quinn. Steve Wallace was 11th, with Horn, Diercks and Cobb rounding out the field.
Thoughts on Kansas Speedway
“It’s a great place to race. The asphalt has cured to the point where it really is an incredible place to race on. This is almost like home for me. I did a lot of racing in Springfield and I-70 – not far from here.” – Mark Martin, defending race winner
“It’s a little flatter and slicker than what we fight at Charlotte and Texas and Atlanta. It doesn’t have exactly the same characteristics, but all-in-all it’s a great racetrack. It’s got some age on it the last few years and that’s built in some different grooves. You don’t have to run around the bottom. You can run around the middle or move up high and that creates some great racing. I think the fans are going to see some great racing here Sunday. Hopefully it’s a little slicker than last year. That always creates better racing.” – Elliott Sadler
Joyner-Kersee, Lopez to Serve as Co-Grand Marshals Heartland Set to Sing National Anthem
KANSAS CITY, Kans. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and popular comic-actor George Lopez will serve as co-grand marshals for Sunday’s Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Joyner-Kersee, considered to be one the greatest female athletes of all time, won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the heptathlon and long jump events over four consecutive Olympic Games: 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.
She was the first woman to score 7,000 points in a heptathlon, a demanding seven-event competition that measures speed, strength and stamina, and has held the world record in heptathlon since 1986. She was also a world-class athlete in 100 meter hurdles and 200 meters.
Joyner-Kersee took home the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 1998 Goodwill Games in what was to be her last competition; she retired soon after.
Sports Illustrated voted her the “Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century.”
Lopez is one of the premier comedic talents in the entertainment industry. He is the co-creator, writer, producer and star of the ABC sitcom, George Lopez.
Last year, Time magazine recognized Lopez as one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.”
Lopez’s CD “Team Leader” was released to great public acclaim and nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. In May 2004, George’s autobiography “Why You Crying?” entered in the New York Times Bestsellers list. He has starred in several movies, including “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl”.
Lopez continues to tour the country with his stand-up comedy routine.
Heartland, a country music band from Huntsville, Ala., will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to the Banquet 400. The band got its start touring clubs around Alabama. Their debut single, “I Loved Her First,” hit the country music charts this year.
Heartland band members include Craig Anderson (rhythm guitar), Keith West (bass guitar/background vocals), Jason Albert (lead vocalist), Chuck Crawford (fiddle/background vocals), Todd Anderson (drums) and Mike Myerson (lead guitar).
Heartland will also perform a pre-race concert from the Banquet stage prior to the Banquet 400. The concert is scheduled to begin at 11:50 a.m.
USAC Silver Crown Series hits Kansas Speedway for the first time
Along with the NASCAR Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series, the USAC Silver Crown Series visits the State of Kansas for the first time in its series’ history. It is the season finale for the Silver Crown cars, with drivers Bud Kaeding and Brian Tyler fighting it out of the championship. With a finish of sixth or better, Kaeding can win the championship regardless of what Tyler does. However, if Tyler were to win the race and leads the most laps, he still has a chance.
The starting lineup for Saturday’s KANSASSPEEDWAY.com 100 is as follows: Aaron Pierce, Pablo Donoso, Kaeding, Dave Steele, Thaigo Medeiros, Jay Drake, Pete Shepherd, Wayne Reutimann Jr., Tim Barber, Mat Neely, Tyler, Bryn Gohn and Rodney Weesner.
The KANSASSPEEDWAY.com 100 will be run on Saturday, Sept. 30th, following the NASCAR Busch Series race (approx. 5:00 p.m. CT). The race will be rebroadcast on The Outdoor Channel at 4:00 p.m. CT on October 14th.