Camping World RV 400 presented by Coleman fantasy NASCAR preview

by C.J. Radune on September 25, 2008 @ 12:40:25 PDT

 


Like its sister track, Chicagoland Speedway, Kansas Speedway hosted its first race in 2001. As a result of the track having almost no banking in the back and front stretches, the car setup is similar to the designs used on flat tracks like Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Downforce is a key factor. Engine attrition can be a concern, as the cars run high rpm and long green flag runs are common. Incidents are most likely to occur upon entering the turns. Drivers carry a lot of speed out of the straightaways into the turns, and a loss of control can mean a hard hit into the wall.

Location: Kansas City, Kan.

Length: 1.50 miles

Shape: D-shaped oval

Banking: 15-degree corners, 10.4-degree front straight and 5-degree back straight

Table: Do not bench

Leading the pack

Greg Biffle | No. 16 Sherwin Williams/3M Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Biffle put together a perfect start to his Chase effort with two wins in the first two races. He is level on points with Jimmie Johnson and just 10 behind leader and teammate Carl Edwards. Biffle came on strong at the perfect time and doesn't look like slowing down any time soon. To top it all off, he won the last race at Kansas Speedway, the 2007 LifeLock 400. With his current run and past great results at Kansas, there should be no question about Biffle being near the front of the field at the end of the Camping World RV 400 ... and possibly make it three wins on the trot.

Clint Bowyer | No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Bowyer has been quietly racking up the points by not finishing lower than 12th in the last five races. Those efforts have put him in sixth position in the Chase standings. In two career starts at Kansas Speedway, Bowyer has yet to finish outside of the top 10. He finished second in last year's LifeLock 400 and ninth in the 2006 Banquet 400. If that weren't enough to make you take notice, his qualifying average at the track is 5.5. In all likelihood, Bowyer should continue his stealth climb up the standings with a strong finish at Kansas.

Mark Martin | No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet | Dale Earnhardt Inc.

While running a limited schedule, Martin has really turned heads. In his last four starts he has not finished outside of the top 10 and has also tallied two top-five finishes. In just 19 starts this season he has racked up four top-fives and 10 top-10s. He is closing out his season with Dale Earnhardt Inc. before turning the wheel over to Aric Almirola full time in 2009, and he'll want to do that on a high note. At Kansas Speedway Martin bagged one win, two top-fives and three top-10s in seven career starts. In his last three races there he finished first, third and 12th (last year's LifeLock 400). Martin should be near the front as usual at Kansas.

Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge | Penske Racing

Early contact in the Camping World RV 400 presented by AAA ruined a top-five start for Busch, and he ended the race in 34th position. Busch took home two top-fives in the last five starts and has been working to improve his somewhat lackluster season. Busch has a lot of room for improvement; since his win in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301, he has had just one top-five finish, which came the week after the victory. If he can stay away from trouble and maintain his recent speed, Busch should be knocking on the door of another top-10 finish at Kansas, adding to the two he already has there in seven career starts.

Brian Vickers | No. 83 Red Bull Toyota | Red Bull Racing

Vickers is currently enduring his worst streak of the season. Three straight finishes worse than 30th position are certainly off color from what his season has been to this point. His average finish in the last three starts is 34th, quite a way from his three top-fives and six top-10s so far this season. No matter how the season ends for Vickers, it is still a tremendous turnaround from 2007, when he and the team struggled just to qualify for some races. Still, Vickers' car has been strong throughout the season and should break its poor streak soon - perhaps at Kansas, where Vickers has never finished worse than 19th in his three career starts.

Drivers to keep an eye on

Martin Truex Jr. | No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet | Dale Earnhardt Inc.

He hasn't earned a top-10 finish in his two career starts at Kansas Speedway, but he isn't having a bad 2008 season. Truex nabbed just one top-10 in his last six starts and sits 15th in Cup points. Unfortunately, his last outing at Kansas left him wanting more after starting ninth. He ended the race in 38th, but he did manage to lead a few laps along the way. If Truex can find a setup that works and the pit makes some good calls throughout the Camping World RV 400, he might be a challenger.

Kasey Kahne | No. 9 Budweiser Dodge | Gillett Evernham Motorsports

Kahne earned one pole and led 50 total laps in four starts at Kansas Speedway, but he only brought home his first top-10 finish at the track in last year's LifeLock 400. His run of good midseason form has dried to a slow trickle of mediocre results recently, and he only has one top-10 result in the last seven races. It might not appear as though Kahne and his team have fully overcome their struggles, but they have been steadily improving the car. Bad luck, including an accident and an engine failure in the past few races, stalled that progress. Look for Kahne to continue to improve as soon as his luck turns around.

Elliott Sadler | No. 19 Best Buy/Garmin Dodge | Gillett Evernham Motorsports

Like his teammate Kasey Kahne, Sadler's midseason turnaround seems to have vanished. The series now heads to Kansas, where Sadler has run well in the past. His last visit there produced a finish of eighth to add a top-10 to his prior top-five finish in the 2004 Banquet 400. Unfortunately, Sadler hasn't produced a top-10 finish for five straight races and only tallied six so far this season. Like Kahne again, though, Sadler has had some solid appearances in the last few races, but none have translated to a positive finish just yet. If Sadler can regain his top-15 form, he might end up finishing the season well and become a viable fantasy option.

David Ragan | No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Not since March and April 2008 has Ragan had a drought of top-10 finishes as long as five races. This weekend, if Ragan doesn't finish in the top 10, he will equal his worst streak of the year. It almost seems as though the pressure to make the Chase took its toll on Ragan's team and they've lost their edge. Now that the pressure is gone and the disappointment is fading, it will be interesting to see if Ragan can snap out of his losing streak. He is 14th in points and needs some top finishes to lock down the "best of the rest" place in the points for the end of the year. Ragan placed 16th in the 2007 LifeLock 400, his only race at the track; it's hard to bank on one result to translate to success this week, but if you're starved for options, Ragan should be on your list.

David Gilliland | No. 38 "Ford. Drive one." Ford | Yates Racing

Gilliland doesn't have much experience at Kansas Speedway with just two starts. Neither produced a top-20 finish, and his qualifying efforts weren't that great either. Yates Racing has produced some decent equipment this year, but for one reason or another we typically see Gilliland unable to move through the field. His performances haven't been strong and it will be interesting to see how he finishes the year and prove to Yates that he deserves to be behind the wheel. With just one top-10 this season on an oval, it is hard to justify considering Gilliland for any fantasy lineup.

 

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About C.J. Radune

Radune has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.

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