Previewing the STP 400
by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush
Location: Kansas City, Kan.
Specs: 1.5-mile tri-oval; Banking/Turns: 15°; Banking/Tri-Oval: 10.4°; Banking/Backstretch: 5°
2010 Winner: Greg Biffle (Oct.)
2011 Race Length: 400.5 miles/267 laps
Track Qualifying Record: 180.856 mph (Matt Kenseth, 2005)
Race Record: 138.077 (Greg Biffle, 2010)
From the Spotter's Stand
Brian France is doubling down on Kansas Speedway, bringing a second Cup race to the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, an annual late September or early October stop since 2001. NASCAR is betting that the first weekend in June will pay off for the track that also offers a high-end casino over Turn 2.
Last year, Greg Biffle made winning at Kansas look like easy money, taking the checkers by 7.638 seconds ahead of 2008 winner Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and two-timer (2006, ’09) Tony Stewart. In his past four stops in K.C., Biffle has two wins and a pair of thirds.
Crew Chief’s Take
“As with many of the circuit’s 1.5- and 2-mile ovals, bump stops on the shocks play an important role at Kansas. A team must find an optimal setting for the bump stops or the car will be negatively affected by being too low — which drags the splitter and affects handling — or too high — which gets air under the car and results in a lack of front-end downforce. Kansas is a simple track, which means there are probably more teams that can win there than at most places.”
Looking at Checkers: Greg Biffle is absolute cash money in Kansas.
Pretty Solid Pick: You want solid? Take a look at Jeff Gordon’s eight top 10s in 10 starts.
Good Sleeper Pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr. suddenly looks like a contender on the big intermediate tracks.
Runs on Seven Cylinders: Joey Logano’s success in the Nationwide Series at Kansas — two wins in three starts — have not translated into Cup glory.
Insider Tip: Two races at Kansas mean double the success for Biffle, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart … and double the boredom for the fans.
Classic Moments in Kansas
Kansas Speedway has been the site of many oddball finishes, and with its traditional date in the Chase, its often had championship ramifications. The 2006 Banquet 400 is no different.
Jimmie Johnson has led 105 laps on the day and leads late when fuel mileage comes into play. Johnson surrenders the lead with four laps remaining to Tony Stewart, who runs out of gas on the backstretch of the final lap. However, with pit stops ongoing, Stewart has a nearly 20-second lead over Casey Mears and coasts the final half lap to win with an empty fuel cell.
Johnson’s title hopes appear to take a fatal hit when he is caught speeding on pit road while coming in for a splash of gas and two tires. His 14th-place finish finds him 165 points out of the Chase lead. He rebounds, though, averaging a third-place finish over the final six races to win his first Cup.