The past two weeks have been full of gut wrenching, climatic and surprising race finishes. Due to the surface repaving, I believe that Kansas Speedway is sure to add some more excitement to this unpredictable, high-octane NASCAR season.
There has been a lot of talk about Kansas Speedway being another “wildcard” race due to the surface repaving and teams not being sure of what to expect due to the track changes. I know that there have been a few days of testing at the speedway ... will this really help the outcome of the race? Maybe or maybe not?
Another factor that could change the race outcome is the ever-changing weather conditions around this time of the year - wind and more wind along with some cool temperatures is always an added adventure. I am sure that we will have lots to discuss once the checkered flag waves in the "Land of Oz."
Here is this week’s 5 Questions:
Will the “hometown boy” finally get a win in Kansas? Emporia, KS native and last week’s race winner Clint Bowyer is heading to his home track where the checkered flag has eluded him. His track record includes one top 5, three top 10s, one DNF, average finish 15th, average start 16th and 43 laps led. Bowyer will definitely be looking forward towards redemption due to the engine failure he and his team faced back in April’s race at Kansas.
Is there a new Cup points leader on the horizon? Although Brad Keselowski has held on to the Cup points lead, he is only sitting seven points ahead of five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and 15 points ahead of a hard-charging Denny Hamlin. Keselowski has one win, two top 5s and two top 10s; Johnson has two wins, five top 5s and ten top 10s; and Hamlin has one win, three top 5s and three top 10s. This is definitely a tight points race between these three drivers and any one of them can prevail as the points leader once the checkered flag waves.
Can Chris Buescher become the 30th ARCA Series title winner? The ARCA Racing Series drivers will be competing in their final 2012 season race this weekend and Chris Buescher is the current points leader. He is sitting 85 points ahead of nine-time champion and veteran driver Frank Kimmel. In order to clinch the ARCA championship, Buescher has to finish 12th or better in the 99-lap race at Kansas Speedway on Friday.
Who will be the Nationwide points leader leaving the “Land of Oz”? Currently, points leader Elliott Sadler sits 13 points ahead of reigning NASCAR Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and 29 points ahead of rookie driver Austin Dillon.. Sadler has a track record that includes one top 5 and one top 10 whereas Stenhouse Jr. has one top 5 and two top 10s in the series. Additionally, the current points leader has competed in the Cup series capturing one top 5 and three top 10s. Does this give him an advantage over two fierce competitors? In my opinion, I would say that is highly unlikely due to the track repaving.
How will Regan Smith, Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team prevail? Regan Smith is subbing for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team is determined to have a better finish than they did last week in Charlotte. Starting 26th on the grid, Smith progressively drove his way into the top ten but suffered a blown engine on Lap 62. Despite this setback and disappointment, he is optimistic about competing at Kansas Speedway.
"This is the classiest organization I've ever been with. That's not an indication of any other team I've worked with, but just the class these guys have shown me. I'm looking forward to next week. We got three days to test when we get to Kansas and we will see if we can get the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet up front. I feel confident that we will have the same speed we had here,” said Smith. Although NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver is currently sidelined for the second consecutive week, I am sure that Jr. Nation will be cheering the No. 88 team on throughout the race on Sunday.
Bonus Questions: Will the drivers race the entire time in cautious mode on the new track surface or go full throttle? … Will Kansas be another game changing race that will shake up the Cup and Nationwide points standings? … Will the weather cooperate throughout the entire race weekend?
Fast Lane Poetry," which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.