Back to the intermediates with Kansas this week (and Charlotte two weeks to follow with the All-Star Weekend and Week 13), a 1.5-mile tri-oval similar in layout to Las Vegas. 10 on-track weeks later, and we find out if anyone is able to parlay a quality run in the desert into a great Saturday night in the Midwest. The KC Masterpiece 400 (267 laps) is a few hours away, shortly after dusk pulls its curtain down in Kansas City.
Here’s what to look for:
-Alright, show of hands; who is surprised that Kevin Harvick is once again featured on here? This guy has been straight fire this year: four wins in 2018, and now he’s got two Poles to go with those. We talked about Kansas sharing a similar layout to Las Vegas, and wouldn’t you know that the #4 ended up in Victory Lane there, too? Watch out for this guy, coming off a dominating 1st-place effort at Dover.
–Ryan Blaney had the Pole last year, led 83 laps, and turned that into a 4th. Some trouble in Qualifying in the Fall had him start 40th..and he brought home 3rd! Blaney knows how to get to the front here, regardless of where he starts. He was fast on Friday, look for more of that on Saturday night, under the lights.
–Chris Buescher isn’t a name you’d expect to see as someone to watch on a normal week, but his success at Kansas as of late has earned him a spot here. He finished 6th in the Fall, which is progressively better than his 18th, 21st, 24th, going backwards. Each of those came starting 20th or worse; he starts 10th tonight. Of tracks with 4 or more attempts, this is his best by average (17.2). And back to that Vegas deal? 15th in Week 3, one of his four Top 15s this season. Buescher has darkhorse written all over him this week.
–Martin Truex Jr. got the 2nd of his many victories last year right here at this track. He followed it up with another in the Fall, but we’ll focus on the Spring one now. 104 laps led, and 57 points earned of a maximum 60. That’s the kind of performance you can hang your hat on — and he did, all the way to Homestead and the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
-And now the Wild Card: Matt Kenseth! He’s back for a limited time, making the first of his season starts tonight. He’ll probably have to knock the cobwebs off a little bit, but he certainly knows how to get around here: Two wins, and an average finish of 14.1. From 2010 to the 2017 Spring race, he had a streak of 14 straight Top 15s (yes, you read that correctly) . That run ended with his final attempt here last year, relegated to 37th after a crash just shy of 200 laps. Not known for his Qualifying acumen, he does have three Poles to his credit here. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to show that off this week; his car didn’t get through inspection in time, and he’ll start deep in the field). We’ll see if the 2003 Cup champion can dig his way through a schmoz of cars, he’s got 34 in front of him already.
Coverage of the race starts on FS1 at 8:00pm, green flag scheduled for 8:10pm.