NASCAR

Altered track offers mystery for teams

Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11)
Who has an edge at Kansas this week?
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Kansas Speedway is definitely another of the unknown races, because not only has it been repaved, it has been reconfigured.

It’s my understanding one end still is symbolic of the old Kansas but the other end if more like the corners at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Regardless of the new configuration, regardless of the repave, regardless of the unknown, you pretty much know the cream is going to rise to the top.

I look at teams that ran well at Kansas in the spring, that ran well at Kentucky.

That’s probably going to be the teams to watch. We know Keselowski will be tough there, he won the Kentucky race back in July. We know the Hendrick boys are going to be tough and I’d be willing to bet these Toyotas are going to continue to be awfully strong, especially the Michael Waltrip Racing drivers and also the Joe Gibbs’ camp.

Also, don't rule out this race having a fuel-mileage element to it too.

Fuel mileage definitely adds another wrinkle to the race.

I know if you polled a lot of the competitors, they’d probably say, “We just want to race. We don’t want to have to worry about backing our driver down, we don’t want to have to worry about saving fuel, we don’t want to have to worry about can we make it or not make it.” I think it adds another element to it.

Really and truly, if you think about it, every race we run has a fuel-mileage element to it, whether it’s a short track, a road course, a superspeedway or an intermediate track.

I know Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are probably fairly aggravated after we’ve run five Chase for the Sprint Cup races. They dominated Chicago, led 172 laps and kind of let it slip away from them there at the end because Brad Keselowski was a little bit better. They finished second.

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THAT'S THE WAY!

Keselowski's back in charge after JJ's setback. NASCAR Power Rankings

Talladega, that was kind of its own animal, they finished 17th. They probably were just proud to actually finish that race. But the other three races, two of them they probably felt like they could get up there and race for the win, but they couldn’t.

They couldn’t at Dover or they were going to run out of fuel, and they couldn’t at Charlotte, because they were probably going to run out of fuel.

It probably depends what pair of shoes you are wearing as to whether you like the fuel-mileage races or not. I’m sure it’s the same with the fans. There’s probably a fair amount of them that like that added element, there’s probably some that absolutely can’t stand it.

But it adds another twist and another wrinkle to the event.

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