With the Northeast leg of the Chase tour now behind us, the Sprint Cup Series heads to where the title will be decided… the intermediate, cookie-cutter ovals. Unlike the first two tracks on the circuit that have seen their share of unpredictability both this season and in seasons past, the Kansas Speedway will likely see the usual suspects up front early and often. Just like the teams with big budgets will own the competition this weekend, the big names of the sport will be the focus of fantasy team owners. Who’s a bargain and who’s a ripoff? Leave it to the Frontstretch Fantasy Insider to keep you informed.
By the Numbers
Best Average Finish at Kansas Speedway (since 2005, active drivers)
Greg Biffle, 4 starts, 4.5
Jimmie Johnson, 4 starts, 6.0
Casey Mears, 4 starts, 7.0
Clint Bowyer, 3 starts, 7.7
Mark Martin, 4 starts. 8.5
Gordon has lost some significant ground to the leaders in the first two races of the Chase. Starting out 30 points behind Martin, Gordon is now 122 points in arrears and needs to make something happen this weekend if he’s going to get back into serious contention for a fifth title. Gordon won the first two Cup races ever run at Kansas, and he’s finished fifth and fourth in the last two races there. Gordon has also run very well on Intermediate tracks this year with second-place finishes at California, Atlanta, Michigan twice and Chicago. He also won at Texas. Look for Gordon, and his 9.8 average finish at Kansas to turn things around and claw his way back toward the top of the standings this weekend. – Mike
Johnson was expected to score his first Chase win this weekend at Kansas throughout the media center at Dover this past weekend. That is, until he won at Dover. There’s been a great deal made about how everyone is ready to crown the No. 48 again, and it’s hard to argue with that considering his track record at Kansas. After leading nearly half the race in winning it last year, Johnson’s Kansas resume includes a win, four straight top-15 finishes and an average finish of 6.0 in the last four races here. Johnson will be a contender this weekend and will leave with the points lead. – Bryan
The Kansas Speedway is Bowyer‘s home track, and his performance at the 1.5-mile oval speaks volumes to that. Only a mid-race spin back in his debut at the track in 2006 kept him from winning this race as a rookie, and he has never finished outside the top 12 ever in his career at Kansas. Bowyer has performed better in recent weeks with three consecutive top-15 finishes, and with no Chase points to worry about, the No. 33 will be going for broke on Sunday. – Bryan
Brian Vickers finally broke through and won a race for Team Red Bull this year, and not surprisingly it was at an Intermediate track. Since he’s been driving for Red Bull, their strength has always seemed to be the cookie-cutter tracks and the 2-milers. If Vickers can keep from being bitten by pit-road miscues, he’ll more than likely be running near the front again this weekend. Vickers has also been qualifying very well this year on these style tracks with poles at California, Chicago and Michigan twice. The current car still has aero dependence so being near the front is key and a good qualifying effort will go a long way in ensuring that. Expect Vickers to put on a good show this weekend and possibly grab another victory. – Mike
AJ Allmendinger is streaky to say the least. He has finished 20th at Atlanta, 22nd at Michigan and 13th at Chicago, the last three Intermediate races on the schedule. While Allmendinger most likely won’t be competing for the win this weekend, he’ll give a strong run and bring the car home at the end of the day. Allmendinger has been running at the end of every race this season. Allmendinger has only run at Kansas once, but he came home in ninth place in that event. As always, the C-list drivers are a gamble, but Allmendinger should be a semi-safe bet this weekend. – Mike
That’s not a typo, Casey Mears does have three top-10 finishes in his last four starts at Kansas. There’s only been one type of track that Mears has managed to find success at during his Cup career, and the Kansas Speedway is among the most cookie cutter of the cookie cutters. Mears has back to back top 20s in the last two races, and considering that he is racing for a job next year, a rare visit to the top 10 for Mears is as likely this weekend as ever. – Bryan
The Last Word
Intermediate tracks are still mostly about track position, and with the limited aging of the asphalt at Kansas that will most likely be true again this weekend. Look for teams who have notoriously done well on pit lane this year to have a slight advantage this weekend by getting their car out ahead of most of their competitors and in the cleaner air. It also still pays to remember that Chasers are in the Chase for a reason, and they’ll comprise a majority of the top 10 again this weekend when the racing is done.
Results of our Experts in the Frontstretch Fantasy Games
Game of Tomorrow
Bryan – 7596
Mike – 7106
Bryan – 5544
Mike – 5640
Bryan – 14491
Mike – 12970
To help the readers track how well our experts are doing, we’ll keep track of the cumulative points scored by all three drivers every week, as well as the total for the season.
Bryan – 455 9495
Mike – 353 9231
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