Brad Keselowski leads the way at NASCAR returns to the Midwest
The NASCAR Cup Series travels back to the heartland this weekend for the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway. The race scheduled for Sunday on the 1.5-mile oval will be the first of two this season held at this midwestern track located on the western side of Kansas City.
Kansas will utilize NASCAR’s low-horsepower, high-downforce package that puts extra emphasis on restarts and track position. Repaved back in 2012, this oval is known for its progressive banking and multiple grooves that give drivers plenty of lines to race on.
Early on in its history, Kansas produced its share of quirky finishes: Greg Biffle winning without crossing the finish line first in 2007, then Carl Edwards’ banzai move against Jimmie Johnson a year later. But over the past few years, results have gotten more predictable with heavyweights Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing splitting the last four victories here. Denny Hamlin is the only driver without a Cup championship to win at Kansas since 2011.
This time around, due to COVID-19 NASCAR has chosen to go without practice and qualifying this weekend. Instead, the field was set using a special metric calculated using the formula below.
50% of the metric is their finishing position from the previous race (split between driver and owner).
35% of the metric is the team’s current position in the NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings.
15% of the metric is their fastest lap during the previous race.
The team with the lowest total starts on the pole, then the next lowest, etc. until all available spots are filled. It’s the best compromise NASCAR could make while attempting to limit each team’s at-track time during the pandemic.
Thirty-nine cars entered the Kansas race, leaving the grid one short of a full 40-car field. The 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with three "open" cars: the No. 37 of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece), the No. 33 of Team Penske (Austin Cindric) and the No. 55 of BJ McLeod Motorsports (Matt Mills).
1. Brad Keselowski
2. William Byron
3. Michael McDowell
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Matt DiBenedetto
6. Austin Dillon
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Christopher Bell
9. Kyle Busch
10. Cole Custer
11. Tyler Reddick
12. Ryan Preece
13. Bubba Wallace
14. Ryan Newman
15. Martin Truex Jr.
16. Chris Buescher
17. Chase Elliott
18. Aric Almirola
19. Chase Briscoe (R)
20. Denny Hamlin
21. Daniel Suarez
22. Anthony Alfredo (R)
23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
24. Ross Chastain
25. Alex Bowman
26. Corey LaJoie
27. Erik Jones
28. Kurt Busch
29. Joey Logano
30. BJ McLeod (i)
31. Justin Haley (i)
32. Kyle Larson
33. Cody Ware (i)
34. Quin Houff
35. Joey Gase (i)
36.Garrett Smithley (i)
37. Josh Bilicki
38. Austin Cindric (i)
39. Matt Mills (i)
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Brad Keselowski (pole) starts up front for the second time this season. He also earned the pole at Phoenix Raceway in March. The Team Penske driver is seeking back-to-back Cup victories for the first time since September 2018.
- William Byron (2nd) is the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver.
- Michael McDowell (3rd) has his best career qualifying position at Kansas in 20 starts.
- Matt DiBenedetto (5th) has his best starting spot since Dover last August.
- Christopher Bell (8th) leads the five Toyota drivers in this weekend’s field.
- Chase Briscoe (19th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
- Denny Hamlin (20th) is the defending race winner and current Cup Series point leader.
- Joey Gase (35th) moves to the No. 15 of Rick Ware Racing this weekend, replacing JJ Yeley. He ran a specially-numbered 28 in honor of Davey Allison at Talladega.
- Garrett Smithley (36th) jumps into the No. 53 car this weekend for RWR, the team Gase drove for at Talladega.
- Austin Cindric (38th) is back in the No. 33 Verizon Ford for Team Penske, continuing a limited schedule in preparation for a full-season jump in 2022. Cindric is the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion.
- Matt Mills (39th) is making his Cup Series debut in a second car for Live Fast Motorsports and BJ McLeod. Mills runs full-time in the NXS for McLeod’s team.
NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN
Race: Buschy McBusch 400
Track: Kansas Speedway (Kansas City, Kan.)
Date: Sunday, May 2
TV: FOX Sports 1, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 267 laps (400 miles)
Stage 1: 80 Laps
Stage 2: 80 Laps
Final Stage: 107 Laps
Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to talk about how his life has changed since that historic victory before host Davey Segal and company look ahead to a weekend of racing out in Kansas.