Breaking down Sunday’s Chase race at Kansas Speedway with Larry McReynolds

WPPROD

This weekend, we are heading back to Kansas Speedway. It’s another 1.5-mile track in the Chase, however, it’s unlike both Chicagoland and Charlotte that we have already visited.

While it has a lot more grip than the other two, it’s starting to lose grip as well. Anytime you have a blistering summer like Kansas had this year, you know it’s going to lose grip.

Sure, we were there in early May, but remember that was a night race so the temperatures were a lot cooler. This race is during the day, and as I mentioned earlier this week, anytime you race during the day versus racing during the night, you have a completely different set of circumstances to deal with.

Kyle Busch won the race back in May, but it was also a very good race for a few other Chase drivers. Kevin Harvick finished second. Kurt Busch finished third, with Matt Kenseth finishing fourth. Both Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott finished in the top 10.

Some who didn’t fare so well in May included Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, as both were involved in a crash. Neither driver can afford to have that happen this trip to Kansas based on what happened to them last Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

That spring race at Kansas was pretty much what you might call a Martin Truex Jr. playground. He led 172 laps only to have a freak mechanical failure where a head bolt got lodged in the right-front wheel. As a result of the incident, he only managed to salvage a 14th-place finish.

The other question mark I have in my head is actually about Joe Gibbs Racing. This is a bunch that had 11 wins in our first 26 races, including the May Kansas race, but not they are winless so far in the Chase.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have them as a major player in the Chase, it just seems obvious their production has slipped.

Like all the tracks we go to and from what we’ve already seen at Charlotte, pit road can change the entire look of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. NASCAR will continue to add more loops at Kansas to pit road, as they have at other tracks.

In May, there were seven pit-road speeding penalties. When you to take a look at the last eight races run at Kansas, there have been a jaw-dropping total of 46 speeding penalties on pit road. Pit road could be a major player in Sunday’s fifth Chase race, as well.

As we all know, restarts are big no matter what track we go to, but I look for the restarts on Sunday to be especially dramatic. You watch what happens Sunday on a restart after they cross the start/finish line. You’ll see those drivers down on the apron going three or four-wide in an effort to gain critical track position.

The problem is they can’t be doing that by the time they get to in Turn 1. There’s only so much real estate, and something will have to give.

While I realize this is only the second race in the Chase Round of 12, I also know there are some desperate drivers who know they have to get to Victory Lane if they want to keep their 2016 championship hopes alive.

Don’t forget that in addition to the remaining 12 Chase drivers, there are a lot of other teams out there trying to win on Sunday as well, so I’m expecting a lot of action at Kansas.