Even though Kansas Speedway is one of the newer venues in NASCAR, track officials believed it was time repave the racing surface. The wear and tear caused by the sizzling hot summers and freezing cold winters common to the nation's heartland were addressed with fresh asphalt. Variable banking was also added to the turns and frontstretch. Managers should take note that in addition to the three typical practice sessions, there will be an additional tire testing session.
Testing sessions: Thursday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. EDT
Practice sessions: Friday, Oct. 4, at 12:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday, Oct. 5, at 11 a.m. EDT and 1:50 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, Oct. 4, at 5:10 p.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. EDT
Location: Kansas City, Kan.
Shape: D-shaped oval
Length: 1.5 miles
Turns: 17-20 degrees
Frontstretch: 9-11 degrees
Backstretch: 5 degrees
Drivers to keep an eye on
Matt Kenseth | No. 20 Dollar General Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing
Don't sleep on Stenhouse
Kenseth has laid claim to winner's circle at Kansas each of the last two races. Back in April he won from the pole with 163 laps led, besting the 78 circuits he paced in last year's fall appearance. Since 2010 Kenseth has held an average running position of eighth or better in all six Kansas events.
Kenseth began the Chase with two victories and hasn't finished outside the top 15 in seven straight.
Jimmie Johnson | No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time Johnson finished outside the top 10 at Kansas, something he's done only twice in 14 career starts. Over the last nine starts Johnson has collected two wins at Kansas, most recently in the 2011 Chase, in addition to four other trips to the podium.
Johnson is coming off a dominating victory at Dover and has now recorded a top-five in all three Chase events held thus far.
Kevin Harvick | No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing
Harvick has finished outside the top 12 at Kansas only once in nine starts since 2007. In four of the last five races he's recorded more than 95 percent of his laps running in the top 15.
Over the last five races of this season, Harvick owns four finishes of 11th or better and continues to be a sound top-tier selection.
Clint Bowyer | No. 15 Raspberry 5-Hour Energy Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Over the last four Kansas races, Bowyer has put together three top-10s. He's been particularly sharp the last two races, where Bowyer has finished sixth and fifth, respectively, spending more than 98 percent of his laps running in the top 15 each time.
Bowyer is coming off his second top-10 of the Chase.
Kasey Kahne | No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
Kahne has finished inside the top 10 in four straight appearances at Kansas, with a pair of runner-up finishes. During that time he's held an average running position of at least 12th. However, for a variety of reasons, Kahne has gone five starts this season without a top-10 finish but has run well enough at Kansas in recent years to believe that slide will end this week.
Brad Keselowski | No. 2 Miller Lite Ford | Penske Championship Racing
Since winning the early 2011 race at Kansas, Keselowski has finished 11th or better in four consecutive starts at the site. Back in April he placed sixth after qualifying all the way back in 33rd.
Despite not being eligible to defend last year's championship, Keselowski put together a respectable start to the Chase until rear-end damage spoiled a sound effort last week at Dover.
Martin Truex Jr. | No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
After struggling at Kansas for several years, Truex finished as the runner-up in each race last season, leading nearly 65 percent of the spring contest. This past April he led 46 more laps and finished fourth.
Truex has fallen outside the top 20 only once in the last 11 races and is now facing an uncertain future with his primary sponsor leaving MWR.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. | No. 17 Ford EcoBoost Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
Stenhouse went from running strong at Kansas in the Nationwide Series to qualifying third when facing the track for the first time in the Cup. The rookie would lead a total of 26 laps and had to overcome losing a lap due to bad timing of a caution flag to finish 11th this past April. This track, which has been kind to Stenhouse thus far, makes him the ideal bottom-tier driver this week.
Temper your expectations
Joey Logano | No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford | Penske Championship Racing
Logano is hot once again following his third-place finish last week at Dover. However, he's yet to find much happiness in the heartland. In eight career Kansas starts, he's managed only a single top-15 finish despite a mix of sound qualifying results.
Brian Vickers | No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Vickers didn't race at Kansas during the 2007, 2010 and 2012 seasons and has recorded only one top-10 in the seven appearances he did make from 2004 through 2011.
JGR tabbed Vickers to fill in for an injured Denny Hamlin earlier this season but he would finish outside the top 30 at Kansas after making contact with the wall. Over the last two weeks Vickers has finished seventh and 12th despite poor qualifying results but would need to look really great throughout the week to consider starting.
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.