2020 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Kansas 1

The NASCAR Cup Series takes a tour to the Midwest for a weeknight race at Kansas Speedway Thursday evening. 

The drivers will have familiarity with the racing conditions in Kansas City, as the 1.5-mile track will continue the high-downforce theme. It will be the eighth consecutive race in the high-downforce aero package dating back to Homestead-Miami Speedway on June 14. 

Four Fords will lead the first two rows of the race.

Championship favorite Kevin Harvick will lead the quartet and start on the pole. It is Harvick’s first pole this season. In 28 career starts at Kansas, the 44-year-old for Stewart-Haas Racing has three career wins and eight career top-five finishes. Harvick currently leads the field in points (721), top-five finishes (11), top-10 finishes (15) and laps led (691). 

Aric Almirola, Harvick’s teammate, will look to continue his strong high-downforce success with another quality finish at Kansas. The 36-year-old has finished in the top 10 in his past seven races. The streak is Almirola’s best in his Cup Series career. Almirola currently sits eighth in the point standings (534) and 11th in the projected playoff. Almirola will start third. 

Kyle Busch will look to continue his success at Kansas as he attempts to pick up his first 2020 Cup victory. In the 35-year-old’s last 10 races at Kansas, the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing has finished in the top 10 in nine of them (including a victory on May 7, 2016). Busch currently sits 10th in points (520) and 14th in the projected playoff. 

While Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott are locked into the playoffs, their Hendrick Motorsports teammates in Jimmie Johnson and William Byron sit on the playoff fringe.

While Johnson currently sits above the cutline (15th out of 16), the 44-year-old still has not collected a victory on the season. While he has finished in the top 10 in his last two races at Kansas, he finished outside the top 10 in his four races there previously.

Byron, meanwhile, sits below the cutline by one spot. In four career Cup races at Kansas, the 22-year-old has an average finish of 24th. Johnson and Byron will start 20th and 15th respectively.

After picking up his third career Cup victory Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Austin Dillon will start 16th. In 13 career Cup starts at Kansas, the 30-year-old has three top-10 finishes. Since the 2016 season, however, Dillon has finished outside the top 10. 

Stages for the race end on lap 80, lap 160 and the finish on lap 267. A competition caution will be thrown on lap 25.

TV coverage for the race will begin on NBC Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. EST. 

Here is the starting lineup: 

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/07/21/goodyear-fast-facts-kansas-3/

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