In 1996, International Speedway Corporation began exploring the Midwest region of the country to find a suitable spot to build a NASCAR race track. After deciding on the Kansas City area, construction began in the Spring of 1999 on the Kansas Speedway.
When the 1.5 mile tri-oval track was completed, it had 15 degree banking in the turns, 10.4 degrees in the 2,721 foot frontstretch and 5 degrees in the 2,207 foot backstretch. There were 75,000 seats at that time. Currently there are over 82,000 grandstand seats and plans are to increase that to a total of 150,000.
NASCAR's Cup, Nationwide (Busch) and Craftsman Truck Series committed to run events at the new facility beginning in 2001. The Indy Racing League joined NASCAR with a planned 2001 event as well. Four stock car racing schools (Richard Petty Driving Experience, Racing Experience, Jeff Gordon Racing School and Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure) and one open-wheel school (Mario Andretti Racing School) are resident at the Kansas Speedway.
A dozen cars were taken out of the 2001 race in wrecks due to blown tires or blown engines. Passing was a problem since the new track only had one groove at the bottom and this was the case in 2002 as well. Second and third grooves came into play after those two races and since then, drivers were able to do some side-by-side racing.
First Cup race
On September 30, 2001, after driving the No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge to a 176.499 mph qualifying lap, Jason Leffler started on the pole for the first NASCAR Cup race, the Protection One 400. Jeff Gordon, in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, started 2nd and won the race. The average race speed for that event was 110.576 mph.
As fantasy players, your team budget won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. There were 45 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. The 43 drivers who qualify will be competing in front of about 82,000 fans in the grandstands. Here are our picks for Sunday's Camping World RV 400 in Kansas City, Kansas.
Mark Martin looks to repeat his 2007 performance in the closing races of this season. He scored a 4th in the 2007 Dover race and followed it up with a 12th at Kansas Speedway. We picked Mark last week at Dover and he finished 4th. Guess where we think he'll finish on Sunday. NASCAR loop data shows Martin tops all drivers in the 'Laps Led' category for the last three Kansas races (139 of the 744 laps). He's also 2nd best (behind favorite Greg Biffle) in championship points (482) scored in those three races.
This is starting to sound like a repeat of last week. We picked Casey Mears to finish in the top 15 last week at Dover and he finished 15th. Well, we're doing it again this week for Kansas. Mears likes running on the 1 to 2 mile tracks. Of his 62 career top 15 finishes, he's logged 46 on tracks of this size. He finished 4th in this race last year and has an average finish of 13.8 for five Kansas starts. Over the last three races at the Kansas City track, Mears' average finish of 4.7 is the best of all drivers. Mears has nothing to lose at this point; he's already set with a new ride at Richard Childress Racing for 2009.
We're going out on a limb for our last two picks. Both should be reasonably priced in most fantasy games. Dave Blaney is coming off a 12th at Dover. He finished 15th in his last trip to the Kansas Speedway. Like Mears, Blaney does best on the intermediate tracks with 41 of his 55 top 15's recorded at these venues. He's a good choice to put at the tail-end of your roster for Sunday.
David Reutimann is our other deep pick this week. Since mid-August of this year, Reutimann has come alive and is starting to get a lot of TV 'face-time'. With the exception of a 25th at Bristol on August 23rd, he's scored 17th or better finishes. This is only his second Cup start at Kansas (finished 31st in 2007) but he has five other starts here in the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series. He scored three top 15's (best was a 3rd) in those races.