Menard not a hard pick
Even though Kansas Speedway is one of the newer venues in NASCAR, track officials believed it was time repave the racing surface for the fall of 2012. 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, in addition to some tweaking in hopes to improve the racing. The increasingly popular variable banking was installed in each turn and also to the frontstretch.
Practice sessions: Friday, May 9 at 12 p.m. EDT, 2:30 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, May 9 at 6:40 p.m. EDT
Race: Saturday, May 10 at 7:30 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
Paul Menard | No. 27 Shrock/Menards Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing
Menard pulls into Kansas with a streak of three consecutive top-10s at the site, the second-longest active streak behind Jimmie Johnson's four straight. During those runs, highlighted by a third-place performance in the fall of 2012, Menard held average running positions of eighth, 13th and sixth, respectively. He also spent more than 80 percent of each race in the top 15. Menard is coming off an impressive race week at Talladega Superspeedway where he qualified on the outside pole, led 10 laps and finished sixth.
Clint Bowyer | No. 15 Cherry 5-Hour Energy for Special Ops Warrior Foundation Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Bowyer drives for the race sponsor and just signed a contract extension for the company as well as MWR. Kansas is also his home track, and his wife has a baby on the way. In addition to all the good mojo, it helps that Bowyer has been quite good at Kansas in recent years. Prior to finishing 14th in last year's Chase race he placed sixth in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013. Bowyer, coming off a season-high third last week at Talladega, put down an average running position of sixth and seventh in those races while spending more than 98 percent of each one in the top 15.
Kasey Kahne | No. 5 Farmers Insurance/Thankamillionteachers.com Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
In 13 career starts at Kansas, Kahne has won the pole three times but finished outside of the top 30 in two of those. He's riding a streak of six straight top-15s at the site with four finishes of eighth or better sandwiched in between. That includes a pair of runner-up performances, one being this race a year ago. Now 10 races into the season, Kahne is without a top-five finish but rallied from qualifying 42nd last week at Talladega to match his season-high finish of eighth.
Martin Truex Jr. | No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet | Furniture Row Racing
Truex was the runner-up in each of the 2012 Kansas races and finished fourth in this event last year, but wasn't much of a factor in the fall. While Truex has only recorded one top-10 finish all season, he's placed 21st or better in four of the last five. Truex has also notched an average running position of 19th or better in four straight, so better days could be ahead.
Kyle Busch | No. 18 Snickers Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing
The younger Busch brother is an outstanding driver and is currently third in points because, unlike most years, he has avoided DNFs and the occasional disastrous finish, at least so far. However, Kansas has really eluded him over the years. He logged a top-10 back in the early 2012 race, but "Rowdy" has suffered a DNF due to crash in three straight at the site. Out of his last six races there, he has started fifth or better four times but has failed to convert a top-10 finish in any of them.
Ryan Newman | No. 31 Kwikset Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing
Newman has been quite consistent this year and has yet to finish worse than 22nd while collecting four top-10s. In his first three trips to Kansas, Newman was twice a runner-up and a winner back in 2003. However, in the 13 races since, he's only managed one top-10 and just one top-15 in the last five.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's 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. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.
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