Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS — May 15, 2022
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and the introduction of the Next-Gen car are a quarter of the way through the 36-race schedule, and already the competition has produced eight different pole winners and 10 different race winners. This season, tied with the 2001, 2014, and 2019 seasons, has produced the second-most race winners through 12 races in the Modern Era (1972-Present). Only 2000 and 2003, with 11 different winners, produced more. Now the series turns its attention to Kansas Speedway for the AdventHealth 400.
Kansas Speedway History
Groundbreaking for Kansas Speedway was held on May 25, 1999. The official opening of the track was in 2001, with the first NASCAR Cup Series race being held on September 30, 2001. The event was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Gordon would actually win the first two NASCAR Cup Series races held at Kansas (2001, 2002).
During the 2012 season, between the April and October events, the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway track underwent a repave, adding variable banking in the corners bringing them to 17-20 degrees.
In total, there have been 32 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway; one event from 2001 – 2010 and two races per year since 2011. The 32 Cup Series races have produced 16 different pole winners and 16 different race winners (2001-2021). Eight of the 16 NASCAR Cup Series Kansas winners are active for this race. Anyone of those drivers could be considered a favorite to win.
- Denny Hamlin 3 (2020, 2019, 2012)
- Joey Logano 3 (2020, 2015, 2014)
- Kevin Harvick 3 (2018, 2016, 2013)
- Kyle Busch 2 (2021, 2016)
- Brad Keselowski 2 (2019, 2011)
- Martin Truex Jr. 2 (2017 sweep)
- Kyle Larson 1 (2021)
- Chase Elliott 1 (2018)
The 1.5-mile track will require 267 circuits to complete the 400.5 scheduled today. Stages are set 80/85/102 laps. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Alex Bowman (Las Vegas) and William Byron (Atlanta) won the first two races contested on a mile and a half speedway this year.
Kyle Busch is the defending champion of the race, he starts from the sixth position today. Christopher Bell sits on the pole with Tyler Reddick beside him in the front row. Last week’s winner, Joey Logano, wrecked his primary car in practice which forced him to go to a backup car. Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also had practice incidents. The trio will all start at the rear due to changes in their primary rides.
This weekend at Kansas Speedway is the last chance for a driver to win their way into the 2022 All-Star Race by virtue of a points-paying race victory before the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the special event next weekend. Expect that incentive to drive another mad dash for the checkered flag similar to the Logano/Byron battle last week at Darlington.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano was not going to be denied the win last weekend at Darlington Raceway as he shoved William Byron out of the way in the closing laps of the race. Logano grabbed his first series win of 2022 at Darlington and the 28th of his NASCAR Cup Series career. The win also cemented Logano in the postseason joining his rookie teammate Austin Cindric who clicked his ticket to the Playoffs with his season-opening win in the Daytona 500. Logano is the 10th different winner this season, leaving just six spots still up for grabs in the Playoffs.
The first lap was pretty calm, for Kansas Speedway starts. But, by the time the field came back around and into turn one for the second time they were four-wide. Just six laps in Chase Briscoe(14) spun entering the trioval and crossed the start/finish line in the grass, bringing out the first caution of the race.
A big overnight rain soaked the area and the tri-oval grassy section between the track and pit road retained some water. Briscoe was lucky to get his car straightened out and drive through without getting stuck in the damp sod.
Christopher Bell(20) led from the drop of the green flag until slipping to the high side of the track on the restart. Tyler Reddick(8) drove to the lead with Kyle Larson(5) moving into second in a three-wide scramble at the front of the pack.
BJ McLeod(78) brought out the second caution of the day spinning on the front stretch. Giving the field a chance to come to pit road for fresh Goodyear tires and fuel. Justin Haley’s(31) crew had trouble getting a wheel tight and had to back up into their pit stall for the tire changer to finish the job.
Larson had managed to pass Reddick prior to the caution and came to the pits as the race leader. His crew had trouble getting the left rear wheel off and it cost him valuable track position, dropping him to the 10th position when he exited pit road.
Bell was back into the top spot when the race restarted with KyleBusch(18), Ross Chastain(1), Daniel Suarez(99), and Martin Truex Jr.(19) rounding out the top five.
Just 20 laps after resuming the race, Suarez had a left rear tire go down in turn three and spun hitting the wall with the nose of the car. While circling the track, waiting for pit road to open, Bell’s left rear also went down necessitating a stop for the leader.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47), Corey LaJoie(7), and Austin Dillon(3) stayed on the track choosing to gain track position for the run to the end of the Stage instead of getting fresh rubber. Michigan’s Erik Jones(43) gambled taking just two tires on his stop and restarted in fourth.
For Jones, the move paid off as he settled into eighth place and held the spot to the green and white checkered flag. Kyle Busch, Chastain, Chase Elliott, and Reddick moved to the front, all on fresh tires. Stenhouse, LaJoie, and Dillon dropped out of the top-10 failing to capture a Stage point.
Stage One Results
|6||19||Martin Truex Jr.||5|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Kyle Busch slid into his pit too close to the wall which prevented the jackman from being able to extend the jack arm to quickly raise the car fully. The fraction of a second delay on pit road caused Busch to exit in 10th place.
Elliott exited the pits first. However, his crew was penalized for equipment interference with another team sending the crowd favorite to the rear of the pack on the restart.
Erik Jones caught a tough break as his crew was unable to remove the right rear lug nut during his stop. He had to return to the pits where the crew tried to use a three-foot-long breaker bar to loosen the wheel attachment. Unsuccessful, Jones was barely able to make it off pit road as the field game to the green, he went a lap down quickly when the race resumed. To compound the problem he will have to take care of the tire until he can get back to the pits during a future caution.
Chastain, Truex, and William Byron(24) were at the front for the restart. As Chastain and Truex ran side-by-side for the first lap under green, Byron drove onto the apron across the tri-oval to pass both cars.
The tire trouble bug struck the leader halfway through Stage two. Byron had a left rear go down just after passing the entrance to pit road. He had to circle the entire track to come in for service. Staying in the grove, Byron hoped pieces of the tire would litter the track and cause NASCAR to wave the caution. Pitting under green caused Byron to go two laps down.
Drivers began to pit shortly after Byron’s tire troubles. Kevin Harvick(4) came in for fresh tires, left pit road, and spun in turn two. The caution was just what Jones needed to come in for the wheel repair and NASCAR keep the pit road closed while they sorted cars into the proper position as a result of the pit stops being interrupted with not all teams having come in for service.
The next-gen car with the single center lug nut has been a source of trouble at almost every race for teams trying to adapt from the standard five-lug configuration used since the inception of NASCAR racing.
The problem with Erik Jones’ car turned into an unbelievable comedy of frustration as the team tried various methods to remove the frozen attachment. The breaker bar failed, they tried to cut it off with a Sawzall, a grinder could not cut the nut off, and a hammer drill with a chisel fitting proved futile. The crew ended up using the Sawzall to cut the wheel around the nut to gain leverage to remove it. Once back on track, Jones was seven laps down to the leader.
The remainder of the cars making pit stops jumbled the field further, once racing resumed new names appeared among the leaders. As the laps wound down to the end of Stage two, Kurt Busch(45) led and Kyle Busch trailed his brother by two seconds. With two laps to go, Truex had a left rear go down. He stayed on the track to pit under yellow and not lose a lap.
Stage Two Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
Kyle Busch came into the pits running second. Despite trapping the front tire changers hose under the front of the car, causing a delay, Busch exited in third place. Unfortunately, Kyle pushed the speed limit driving off pit road and was penalized for too fast exiting the pits. The penalty sent him to the rear of the field on the restart.
Kurt Busch led, Ryan Blaney(12), Larson, Austin Cindric(2), and Joey Logano followed back to the green flag. Side-by-side racing in rows one and two gave way to Busch leading and Larson taking over the second spot.
Larson drove past Busch but overcooked his entrance into the corner and got sideways. A remarkable save by Larson allowed him to keep the car from spinning out, with a little brush of the right rear against the wall helping to send him in the right direction. In the process, Kurt Busch calmly drove back around into the lead.
On lap 195, Chase Elliott had a left rear tire come apart and he spun off turn two down into the grass. The tow truck arrived quickly to push him back onto the track. But, given the wet conditions, the tow truck got stuck in the grass. A second rescue vehicle had to be summoned to pull them both out. Elliott lost three laps in the process.
During pit stops, more mistakes happened on the pit road. Truex and Harvick were caught speeding. Bubba Wallace(23) had a tire escape from his pit, it traveled down pit road with the help of a couple of taps from cars leaving their pit stalls. All three drivers were sent to the rear as the penalty for their indiscretions.
Back to racing Kurt Busch and Larson put on a classic battle for the lead swapping positions almost every lap until Larson got loose and tapped the wall. Kyle Busch recovered from his early pit infraction penalty to return to the second spot. Bell, the pole sitter, ran third. Larson held onto fourth as Hamlin rode in fifth with 45 laps to go.
With 39 laps to go, Harvick got bad loose off of turn four. Similar to Larson’s incident he tapped the wall and saved it steering to the track apron. NASCAR wanted to check the track for debris and waved the caution allowing everyone another stop to prep for the dash to the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch and Larson were the first two drivers out of the pits. Kurt Busch and Bell followed. This restart may well decide the winner or generate another caution from the aggressive maneuvers to gain positions.
Larson gained the lead sliding up in front of Kyle Busch after just one circuit of the track. Kurt Busch tucked in behind his brother for third. Throw a blanket over the top three as they steadily pulled away from the rest of the pack.
With 22 laps to go Kurt passed Kyle and set his sights on Larson. At the 10 laps to go mark, Kurt Busch had closed the interval to a single car length. Busch drove low and at the start/finish line had a nose out in front of Larson. As they raced into the turn Larson tried to accelerate early off and pushed his car too hard brushing the wall.
Kurt Busch took the spot and the win. Another first-time winner in 2022 is going to play havoc on the race for playoff spots. The trip to victory lane was the first for Kurt since joining the 23XI racing team of Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.
The biggest losers from the Kurt Busch win were Richard Childress Racing drivers Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick. Coming to Kansas a single point separated them on the bubble for the last playoff spot. Now both of them are on the outside looking in with Dillon trailing 16th place Aric Almirola by 11 points and Reddick 22 points back.
Michigan Erik Jones entered the race just five points out of a possible playoff spot. He now sits 32 points out with more and more drivers realizing they may need a win to qualify for the postseason.
|1||William Byron||415||In Win (2)|
|2||Ross Chastain||407||In Win (2)|
|3||Chase Elliott||475||In Win (1)|
|4||Kyle Busch||417||In Win (1)|
|5||Joey Logano*||396||In Win (1)|
|6||Alex Bowman||386||In Win (1)|
|7||Kyle Larson||376||In Win (1)|
|8||Chase Briscoe*||300||In Win (1)|
|9||Austin Cindric*||291||In Win (1)|
|10||Kurt Busch||283||In Win (1)|
|11||Denny Hamlin||267||In Win (1)|
|13||Martin Truex Jr.||400||+89|
|NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Results of the AdventHealth 400 from Kansas Speedway
|6||19||Martin Truex Jr.||8.656||267|
|8||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||15.158||267|