Kevin Harvick – At Kansas, Kevin Harvick will be the driver to beat. He raced his way to victory lane this spring and over the last ten races he has seven results in the top 3 and nine results in the top 10. Also over this ten race stretch he has 3 wins, the best driver rating, the best average finish (4.8), the best average running position (5.0) and has led the most laps (592). This spring at Kansas he had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. Additionally, he earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, led 79 laps and finished 2nd in Stage #1 and #2. I will note I don’t think he had the best car, Kyle Larson did. Last fall, Kevin Harvick had a strong car but finished a misleading 8th. “Performance Wise”, he was top 3 good but he used some pit strategy late that burned him when a caution came out shortly after he pitted. Just before pitting he was running in 3rd. From the race it should be noted he finished 2nd in Stage #1, 2nd in Stage #2, earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position and led 37 laps. In spring 2017, Harvick had a strong showing. He finished 3rd, earned the 4th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position. In fall 2016 Harvick had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. In the race he earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 74 laps. In spring 2016 he finished runner-up. This year at 1.5 mile tracks Harvick has been a phenomenal performer. Minus Las Vegas #2 and Charlotte (Coca Cola 600) he has a 3 wins and a 3.1 average finish. On Sunday look for Harvick to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Truex Jr. is a super-elite performer at Kansas who should be on your short list of favorites. He won both races last year, and in 5 of the last 7 races he’s been in serious contention to win. Over the last three Kansas races he has the best driver rating, a 1.3 average finish and has led the most laps (208). This spring, Truex Jr. had a strong showing. He finished 2nd, earned the 6th best driver rating, had a 9th place average running position and finished 10th in Stage #2. Last fall, Truex Jr. had an impressive performance and won from the pole. He certainly didn’t make it easy on himself. On lap 32 while leading he got a restart violation penalty and then later on lap 92 he made an unexpected pit stop for a loose wheel. Despite his self-inflicted problems he earned the best driver rating and led 91 laps. In spring 2017 he was extremely strong. He finished 1st, earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led a race high 104 laps. In quite a few of the Kansas races prior to that he was the driver to beat, but walked away with a misleading result. This year at 1.5 mile tracks Truex Jr. has been fast. Over the last five races at tracks of this length he’s finished in the top five every race, has a 2.4 average finish and has a 5.6 average running position.
Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson will be tough to beat at Kansas. He runs extremely well here, but if you looked at his track record you would never know it. Earlier this year I thought he was the class of the field but he finished a misleading 4th. In the race he started in the rear of the field, led the most laps (101), earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position, finished 5th in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. Before late cautions came out in mass he was driving away from the field. Him finishing 4th is extremely impressive when you consider he wrecked while running in 3rd with 20 laps to go which dropped him back to the teens. In 2017, Larson ran well in both races. Last fall he had a great car but he finished 39th after his engine blew up. Prior to his engine problems he was running in 3rd. In spring 2017, Larson had a good performance. He finished 6th, had a 6th place average running position and earned the 5th best driver rating. In the three Kansas races prior to that he didn’t have incident free races. In fall 2016 he was likely around mid-teens good but on lap 177 he got into the wall hard and that led to his 30th place finish. In spring 2016 he had a great car and had top five potential but he was taken out in a late wreck when Denny Hamlin decided to go three-wide. This year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s been a stellar performer. For the season minus Texas he’s finished in the top ten every race, has a 5.1 average finish and a 7.3 average running position. Las Vegas is the most recent 1.5 mile track visited and at that venue he finished 2nd and led 24 laps.