by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.June 2, 2011 2:25 pm UTC No Comments
You know, it’s kind of bitterly ironic that I’m writing a preview for a NASCAR race in Kansas just a day after tornadoes pummeled my home state of Massachusetts. The amount of Wizard of Oz jokes that I had to put up with yesterday was simply unbearable, let me tell you. And now that the Sprint Cup Series is officially in Kansas, running its first summer race there, I’m sure that the jokes are going to go even further.
Come on, tell me that the teams are clicking their heels together and saying “there’s no place like home” after being in Charlotte for two weeks. Tell me that crew chiefs are singing “If I Only Had a Brain” after the Coca-Cola 600 became a fuel mileage race. Really, I dare you. Suck the last remaining fun I can still make out of punnery… oh, sorry, I’m just bitter right now, don’t mind me. We’ve got a race to talk about.
Kansas is one of those tracks that’s recent enough of an addition to the NASCAR schedule that some drivers have competed in all of its races, but old enough that there’s still a solid historical base with which to work as far as making predictions goes. And so:
Greg Biffle: In the past seven races at Kansas, Da Biff has finished worse than third only once. That was a 12th-place finish, back in 2006. The next year, he won the track’s only race. We’ll see if his strong showings every October will translate to June as well.
Jeff Gordon: The guy who won the first two races at Kansas has been usurped as king of the track by Biffle, but he’s still a threat every time the Sprint Cup Series swings through. Since a fuel pump gave out and ruined his 2006 race, he’s finished in the top five every time he’s raced at the track. This race could provide the perfect opportunity to regain some of that momentum lost after winning the season’s second race at Phoenix. Doesn’t that seem like an eternity ago?
A.J. Allmendinger: God, this kid is overdue for his first career win, isn’t he? But karma is on his side this week, as he drives an STP-sponsored car for Richard Petty in a race sponsored by STP. By average finish, Kansas is the ‘Dinger’s third best track, with an average run of 12.0; that’s also fifth best of active Sprint Cup drivers, topping such stars as Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick.