-The biggest upset in the young college football season took place last Thursday night in Corvallis, OR. It illustrates the (kinda) longstanding rule in college football that no team is safe against a fired-up underdog and point spreads mean nothing. The Oregon State Beavers were 25-point dogs to the USC. 25 fucking points! Any team can beat any team at any time. It's what makes college football great. Motor racing certainly has some parallels to this. See: Joe Nemechek, Kansas Speedway, 2004. The habitual underdog scored a weekend trifecta when he won the Cup pole, the Nationwide race and the Cup race on the intermediate track. He is obviously looking for some luck this weekend at the track where beasted the competition four years ago. Check out Tom Jensen's notebook (speedtv.com) for more information on Front-Row Joe's baller Kansas weekend. It may not have happened this season, but NASCAR underdogs can-and routinely do-best the Hendrick Motorsports and Gibbs Racings of the world.
About this race:
*What to know:
One race/year? Not a problem: Kansas Speedway is part of a minority of tracks on the NASCAR schedule with only one Cup race date. This puts the track in the company of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the bastard step children of NASCAR circuits (that would be the road courses at Watkins Glen and Sonoma), Chicagoland, and Las Vegas. Everywhere else gets two Cup dates and thus have double the chances to cash on the NASCAR money gravy train. Good for them. For the racers, one would think visiting a track only once a year would be a tricky proposition for race car setups. Especially with the added pressure of this being a Chase event. However this a non-issue. All 1.5-mile tracks are the same. Really they are. There are tons of 1.5- mile tracks that Cup teams can draw information from. For a while, it seemed like a new intermediate track popped up every six months across the country. And NASCAR made it a point to put them all on the schedule. Every last one of them. Teams will have no problem setting their cars up for this event.
Jimmie loves Juan: Jimmie Johnson should send a big thing of flowers over to Juan Montoya and the entire Ganassi Racing team as they are the reason the defending champ will start from the pole on Sunday. Montoya ran the fastest lap in qualifying, but was ultimately disqualified for a technical infraction. That promoted Johnson to the top starting spot. The starting grid is a bit of cluster-eff with only one other Chase driver starting in the top-10 (Kenseth, p3). Carl Edwards , Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart will all start outside of the top-30. (Starting grid)"Hot" Carl from the rear: The point leader and consensus best-looking stockcar driver since Harry Gant will have a difficult task come Sunday. "Hot" Carl will take the green flag in 34th position after a qualifying run which was more than .5 sec. adrift of Johnson's pole speed. Relegated with the habitual backmarkers are Harvick and Stewart as well. Look for them to try
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Who to watch:
Greg Biffle: The winner of the previous two Chase events is also the defending race winner at KS. He will start Sunday's event in 18th, and should he win, that would be the third worst starting position for a Kansas winner in the event's brief tenure on circuit. The worst starting spot to win at KS belongs to Stewart, who rolled off p21 before rolling into victory lane in 2006. Biffle has three top-5's at Kansas and an average finishing spot of 11th.
Mark Martin: Martin was only .044 sec. off of the pole speed for this race. In the last four starts he's made this season, his worst finish was 8th in Pocono. He finished forth last week and has an average KS finish of 12.4 with one win (2005). Martin is a good value bet at 15/1 to win or even at 9/2 to place in top-3.Jeff Gordon: The honor of most wins by a driver at KS belongs to Gordon. He won in 2001 and 2002. He has 40-career wins on intermediate circuits. 40 is a big number. He did not stumble as much as other Chasers in qualifying and will roll off in 13th.
*For those heading to the track:
Pertinent tailgating information is here. The following sentence from the track's website outlines the potential for lameness during the race:
Outside food or drinks, ice, coolers of any type and drink containers are not permitted through the grandstand gates.
Sorry folks, your drunkenness will have to be confined to the parking lots before the race.
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Kyle Busch