By David Morgan, Associate Editor
After a thrilling end to last weekend’s throwback race at Darlington, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season rolls on as Kansas Speedway and Sunday’s running of the AdventHealth 400 is next up on the docket.
Kansas has come into its own in recent years, following a repave and reconfiguration back in 2012. The track first joined the circuit in 2001 as a relatively tame 1.5-mile track with 15-degree banking in the turns, but the reconfiguration transformed it into the track we know today with variable banking ranging from 17 to 20 degrees in the turns.
With the groove widening out as the track has weathered in, drivers have been able to run from the bottom of the track all the way up to the top. The introduction of the Next Gen car brings some unknowns, but teams should be able to look back on their notes from Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this season, as both tracks are high banked 1.5-mile tracks.
Sunday’s race marks the halfway point of the regular season, with 10 of the 16 spots in the Playoffs already claimed by race winners in the first 12 races of the season.
With the All-Star Race at Texas coming next weekend, Kansas also serves as the final race for drivers not yet locked into the exhibition race to win their way in.
By the Numbers
What: AdventHealth 400, NASCAR Cup Series Race No. 13 of 36
Where: Kansas Speedway – Kansas City, Kansas (Opened: 2001)
When: Sunday, May 15
TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, 3:00 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90
Track Size: 1.5-mile oval (Banking: 17-20 degrees in turns, 10 degrees on frontstretch)
Race Length: 267 laps, 400.5 miles
Stage Lengths: 80 laps (First stage); 85 laps (Second stage); 102 laps (Final stage)
May 2021 Race Winner: Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota (Started ninth, 20 laps led)
October 2021 Race Winner: Kyle Larson – No. 5 Chevrolet (Started on pole, 130 laps led)
Track Qualifying Record: Kevin Harvick – 27.325 seconds, 197.621 mph – October 5, 2014
Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Kansas:
- Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – 109.9
- Martin Truex, Jr. – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 100.4
- Chase Elliott – No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 100.2
- Kyle Larson – No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 99.9
- Ryan Blaney – No. 12 Team Penske Ford – 95.1
- Brad Keselowski – No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford – 94.0
- Kyle Busch – No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 92.9
- Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 92.0
- Kurt Busch – No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota – 88.6
- Joey Logano – No. 22 Team Penske Ford – 88.5
From the Driver’s Seat
“I think this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway is going to be a lot like the races we’ve seen at Homestead-Miami Speedway,” said Tyler Reddick. “The race will be a very unforgiving one. There will be a lot of running the wall with little to no room for error. The margin of error is so small and if you make one mistake, you could take yourself out of the race.
“It’s going to be a lot of strategy and deciding when the right time is to take a risk. Certainly, with my driving style, running the wall is going to be a huge part of my race, but it’s also important to listen to my crew chief and spotter and weigh the risk versus reward. You don’t want to get out there in the first stage and dive into the wall and finish 38th.”
Last Time at Kansas
As was the case on multiple occasions throughout his championship winning 2021 season, Kyle Larson put on a driving clinic at Kansas Speedway last fall to claim his ninth win of the season.
Starting from pole, Larson led nine different times for his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to be out front for a race-high 130 laps, as he crossed the line 3.619 seconds ahead of teammate Chase Elliott to punch his ticket to the Championship 4.
Along with being his ninth win of the year and third straight victory in the Playoffs, Kansas marked 17 years to the day that Hendrick Motorsports lost 10 people in a plane crash en route to Martinsville – a somber moment Larson paid tribute to after capturing the victory.
“I want to dedicate this win to Rick and Linda,” Larson said. “I didn’t get to ever meet Ricky or the other men and women that lost their lives that day. But I felt the importance of this race no doubt.
“So crazy kind of how it all worked out there for me to win. I know they were all looking down helping me in all the restarts and stuff after getting in the wall. So again, thank you to Rick Hendrick. I know this means a lot to you and I’m glad I could get it done.
“So cool to get another win. I don’t really know how that happened. But our HendrickCars.com Chevy was really fast. I thought we were a third-place car really. William was really good. Hated to see that unfortunate luck there again for their team. They’ve been really, really strong.
“Glad we could capitalize and get another win. Hope we can go to Martinsville and get a clock.”
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Saturday, May 14
- NASCAR Cup Series Practice (5:00 pm – FOX Sports 1)
- NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying (5:35 pm – FOX Sports 1)
Sunday, May 15
- AdventHealth 400 at Kansas (3:00 pm – 267 laps, 400.5 miles – FOX Sports 1)