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NASCAR back in midweek prime-tiime slot

By Pete Pistone  () 

It’s a quick turnaround for the NASCAR Cup Series with a Thursday night date at Kansas Speedway. The Super Start Batteries 400 comes just four days after the series competed at Texas Motor Speedway and gives NASCAR another opportunity to grab some attention with a midweek race in prime time.

 

Kansas was slated to host NASCAR in May but was punted back to the summer as part of the COVID-19 rescheduling. Even though it will get cooler as the night wears on, the heat of the Midwestern summer will play a part in the outcome of the race.

 

Kansas is the third consecutive 1.5-mile track for the series after trips to Kentucky and Texas. But unlike those two speedways, the Kansas track surface provides many more opportunities for two- and sometimes three-wide racing thanks to its multiple grooves. Expect the same wild racing after restarts that was on display the two previous races with the cars bunched up but drivers able to maintain those lines as the pack begins to dissipate.

 

Surprise winners have made it to Victory Lane the last two weeks with Cole Custer at Kentucky and Austin Dillon in Texas. Will that trend continue in Kansas, or will the stronger cars and drivers flex their muscles again?

 

Here are some drivers to watch in Thursday night’s Super Start Batteries 400:

 

KEVIN HARVICK

The “mile and a half master” will be dialed in at Kansas. Harvick’s 6.9 average finish over the last 10 races is a series best, and he has won two of the last seven races at the track. He led 40 laps last week in Texas on his way to a top-five finish and continues to lead the point standings with eight races left in the regular season.

 

MARTIN TRUEX JR.

It took Truex a while to break down the door to Victory Lane at Kansas after several years of frustration. He put together four straight top-five Kansas finishes in 2017-18, including sweeping both races at the track in ’17. He has led the most laps in the series at Kansas with 508.

 

CHASE ELLIOTT

It has not been a fun summer for Elliott, who has been just about average over the last several weeks. Kansas might be the pick-me-up the Hendrick Motorsports driver needs based on his previous performance at the track. He has finished in the top five in four of the last five races run there, topped by a 2018 win. Elliott finished second in October’s Kansas playoff race.

 

ERIK JONES

Jones heads the list of drivers who have not won this year but have a shot at Kansas. He rides a streak of four straight top-10 Kansas finishes into Thursday night’s race and has ended up outside the first 10 finishers only three times in seven starts there.

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