Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Kansas 101: Qualifying order, track history, story lines and more

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the midwest this weekend with a visit to Kansas Speedway.

The sport hasn’t raced at a traditional 1.5-mile track since Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, though the races in between included a trip to Atlanta which utilized the superspeedway rules package.

Kansas will be back on the Cup Series Playoffs schedule this fall, so teams will put plenty of focus on what they can learn on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

RACE YOU TO THE POLE

Cup teams will be broken into Groups A and B for practice and qualifying at Kansas. Their Saturday begins with practice at 4 p.m. ET (FS1), where each group will be allotted 15 minutes of practice. Once practice is complete, the groups will head out for single-car qualifying in which each driver will be allowed a single, timed lap. The five fastest drivers from each group will advance to the second round of qualifying, where the 10 competitors will fire off for single-car laps once again. The fastest of those 10 drivers will earn the Busch Light Pole award.

RELATED: Cup qualifying orderKansas schedule | Cup Series standings 

KANSAS HISTORY

– In 1997, Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, were selected as the site for a new Midwestern speedway at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 435. That December, International Speedway Corp. (ISC) announced plans to build a 1.5-mile speedway to seat approximately 75,000. 

– Architecture firm HNTB designed the facility and Turner Construction provided construction management. Construction began on the 1,200-acre, 1.5-mile speedway in May 1999.

– In July 1999, 13,750 preferred tickets went on sale and were quickly purchased. The demand prompted ISC to expand the planned 32 suites by an additional 36, increasing capacity from 75,000 to 82,000.

– Completion was targeted for 2000 but was delayed by weather and lawsuits from nearby landowners. Paving began in September 2000 and the speedway was completed in early 2001. Estimated project cost was $250 million.

– The track’s first Cup race was held in September 2001 and won by Jeff Gordon.

– Sunday’s race marks the 33rd Cup Series event at Kansas.

Source: Racing Insights

GOODYEAR TIRES

As teams progress with the Next Gen car, one observation made has been an increased load on the left-rear corner of the car, partially due to the independent rear suspension and partially thanks to the aerodynamic shift to the vehicle’s rear. To accommodate for that, Goodyear has recommended teams set their left-rear tire pressures 2 PSI higher than the left-front tire.

“The amount of air pressure in the tire should directly correlate to the amount of load on that corner of the car,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “If the amount of load increases — like it has on the left-rear of this Next Gen car — you need to increase the load-carrying capability in that tire, which is done via air pressure. If you run below our recommended pressures, the tire can over-deflect, sustain damage and result in an air loss.”

This week’s left-side tires were also used two weeks ago at Dover while the right-side compound was used at Darlington Raceway, Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas. This tire combination will be used at Texas Motor Speedway for All-Star Race weekend as well as at Nashville Superspeedway.

KANSAS STORY LINES 

– Hendrick Motorsports has seen all four of its drivers visit Victory Lane (William Byron, Atlanta and Martinsville; Kyle Larson, Auto Club; Alex Bowman, Las Vegas; Chase Elliott, Dover). This marks the first time an organization has won with four drivers within the first 11 races of the year.

– Hendrick Motorsports won 22 times since the start of 2021, twice as many as any other organization in that time.

– Hendrick Motorsports drivers won the last four races on 1.5-mile speedways, including the most recent race at Kansas. No team has ever won five straight races on 1.5-mile tracks.

Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

– Tyler Reddick notched his fifth runner-up finish in the Cup Series last week at Darlington but is still looking for his first career win. Only one driver has more runner-up finishes all-time without a win.

– Richard Childress Racing’s 208 laps led this year between Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick are the team’s most circuits led in a season since 2013, which was Kevin Harvick’s last season before departing for Stewart-Haas Racing.

– Nine races in 2022 were won with a pass for the lead in the final 10 laps, the most ever through 12 races in Cup.

– Ten different drivers have won through 12 races in 2022, only the seventh time there were at least 10 winners through 12 races in Cup.

Source: Racing Insights

BET YOUR DRIVER WILL WIN?

As the most recent winner at Kansas, Kyle Larson heads into the weekend as the favorite at 6-1 odds, according to BetMGM. Nobody led more laps at Kansas in 2021 than Larson, who led 262 of a total 534 laps.

Behind Larson in odds so far are Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, who both enter as 8-1 favorites. Busch is the defending winner of this event, and Elliott has finished inside the top six in six of the past seven Kansas races.

If you’re looking for a long shot this weekend, perhaps this is a week to consider Brad Keselowski, who enters at 66-1 odds. Yes, his season hasn’t gone how most of his previous years have. Driving the No. 6 for RFK Racing, Keselowski has just one top-10 finish and has finished 20th or worse in each of the past three races. But Keselowski has three top fives in his last four Kansas starts. Maybe the 2012 champion can turn that into a major positive Sunday.

RELATED: Odds for Kansas

FANTASY LIVE

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (447), William Byron (388) and Ryan Blaney (380).

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.