The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited the Sunflower State to run the KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway Saturday night (May 12). Sadly, the race weekend seemed like another copy-paste style event with the same result as four other races this season — Kevin Harvick on top of the leaderboard.
But who shuffled around behind the dominant No. 4 team? Find out with this week’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings.
Harvick kept his car up front, much like the rest of the season. As the race came to an end, he showed his strong hand with fresh tires to take the lead from Martin Truex Jr. The late-race pass finished off another dominant night at an intermediate track.
The run also left Harvick as the first driver to win five of the first 12 races since Jeff Gordon did so in 1997. That season, Gordon went on to win the championship along with five more victories. Could the result be the same for Harvick this year?
— Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) May 13, 2018
2. Joey Logano (+1)
Ever since that victory at Talladega a few weeks ago, Logano has been on fire. Despite the finishing position last weekend being a little off, Logano led nine laps on Saturday night and was in contention for victory at the end of the race. Two bad restarts back-to-back hurt his result but he still earned a third-place finish, his second best result of the season.
The fastest car won tonight at @kansasspeedway. We were close just didn't have the restarts we needed at the end. Got to make big moves to win.
— Joey Logano (@joeylogano) May 13, 2018
3. Kyle Busch (-1)
For the third straight weekend, Busch failed to finish inside the top five. The 2015 MENCS champ wasn’t a threat throughout the entire night and it seems since his three straight victories, from Texas to Richmond, speed has been amiss on the No. 18.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 12, 2018
4. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer was one of the drivers who missed qualifying on Friday after inspection issues and was close to losing his cool during an interview after the Kansas native found out he wouldn’t be turning a lap.
But Bowyer, like the others who didn’t get to attempt a lap during qualifying, rocketed through the field during the first stage Saturday night. He was running inside the top 10 until getting involved in a late-race crash with William Byron and others. That relegated him to a 15th-place finish at his hometown track. At least he didn’t lose his sense of humor….
Now that’s an athlete! https://t.co/tMejwORMos
— Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) May 12, 2018
5. Kyle Larson
Larson had to start from the rear after his team changed tires following a spin in qualifying. Like Bowyer, he rocketed up through the field on fresh rubber compared to the rest of the field who still had laps on their tires. Little did we know that Larson would be one of the three contenders for the victory on Saturday night.
Larson and Ryan Blaney were battling for position and the two made contact, causing Larson to have a tire rub. Blaney would lose a right front tire, nailing the outside wall and ending his night early. Despite the damage on Larson’s car, though his Chevy was still a contender for the win and came home with a fourth-place finish. But a post-race penalty due to a crunched-up rear window dampened the mood at the No. 42 team this week.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) May 14, 2018
6. Ryan Blaney (+2)
Again, Blaney had one of the most dominant cars of the night. But, like he and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski have encountered most of the season, they haven’t been able to get the job done and finish the race in first. Blaney showed he had the speed to earn his second career victory but the contact, in the end, ended those hopes.
At least Blaney is locked into the All-Star Race this weekend by virtue of his victory at Pocono.
Wow. Ryan Blaney gets into Kyle Larson late in Kansas. Caution is out.
Was that too aggressive by driver No. 12? pic.twitter.com/3heX5CFzIm
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 13, 2018
7. Kurt Busch (-1)
Kurt Busch kept it consistent on Saturday night at Kansas and managed to pull his third top-10 finish in a row. Like his SHR teammates, Busch has shown speed over the last few weekends and could be on the verge of earning a victory. He moved up from sixth to fifth in the MENCS point standings as a result.
Oh, just another ordinary Saturday night at the office. Thx @FOXSports for the helmet cam. Lil disappointed in our run this weekend. But… Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, and all Mom’s! pic.twitter.com/2d1tX9klHa
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) May 13, 2018
8. Martin Truex Jr. (+3)
It looked as if Truex was gonna sneak in and steal the victory on Saturday night. Had he gotten fresh tires, he probably could’ve had two victories while Harvick remained at four. Truex still managed to find himself up front late in the race and earned a second-place finish in the same race he won last year.
"I didn’t know where to go once he was getting there. If I go to the top, he’s just going to catch me on the bottom. I might as well run where I feel I can run the fastest, and I did and it just wasn’t enough." – @MartinTruex_JrMORE: https://t.co/BzX4a78SAM photo: @CIAStockPhoto pic.twitter.com/ct9W67WqMx
— Furniture Row Racing (@FRRacingTeam) May 13, 2018
9. Aric Almirola (NR)
Returning to the track and race where he was injured last season, Almirola had an impressive run that wasn’t shown by his finishing position. SHR’s newest addition spent most of the race in sixth, finishing both stages there before dropping to ninth at the checkered flag.
Didn't want to let the Kansas weekend go by without saying how proud I am of everyone at @StewartHaasRcng. We had a great car with a shot at a top-5 finish, but we just need to execute a little better. A 9th-place finish is great, but I know we can & will do better. pic.twitter.com/DOlXfFswZ9
— Aric Almirola (@Aric_Almirola) May 14, 2018
10. Paul Menard (NR)
Ryan Blaney landed the Wood Brothers in the Monster Energy All-Star Race and, this upcoming weekend, Menard could very well send them to their second straight. He has quietly earned strong finishes behind the wheel of the No. 21 Ford and even earned his first career stage win at Talladega.
Kansas was no different. A strong top-10 run (sixth) keeps him in the playoff conversation as the team rides the wave of strong Ford Fusions across the board in the MENCS.
How about that 6th place finish? we're gettin there fam. one race at a time. Paul drove one of the best races I've ever seen him drive. really solid night
— Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) May 13, 2018