Who will follow the Yellow Brick Road to victory lane on Sunday? Surely, this will be the Wizard of Oz pun dropped a handful of times as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway.
The 11th round of the 2021 season will surely be an interesting one as it will boast one of the oddest names in Cup sponsor title history.
Thanks to Busch Beer, Sunday’s race will be called the Buschy McBusch Race 400 and no, that is not a joke. The name was chosen in a fundraiser for farmers created by the beer company. The racing community was allowed to submit a name for the race with a donation to go along with it. The Buschy McBusch Race 400 ended up as the winner.
The 1.5-mile oval plays host to two races a year and will once again be a site for a playoff race in the Round of 8 in late October.
After earning the victory in the hard-fought closing laps at Talladega last Sunday, Brad Keselowski became the ninth driver in 10 races to win, essentially locking in 10 drivers into the Cup Series playoffs as Denny Hamlin sits 229 points above the cutline. Keselowski is third among active Cup drivers at Kansas in terms of average finish with an 11.6. He’s scored no worse than a sixth-place finish in four of the last five Kansas races.
Hamlin will start the Cup race in 20th after a poor running at Talladega. He’s won two of the last three at Kansas, but has finished outside the top 10 in three of the last five.
William Byron has been one of the most consistent drivers of the season as he is even with Hamlin with eight top-10 finishes, which are the most among Cup drivers. Byron will join Keselowski on the front row.
Hendrick Motorsports will be a contender at Kansas as the team usually runs inside the top 10. At least two drivers from the Chevrolet stable have finished inside the top 10 in the last four races and at least three have scored a top 10 in two of the last four. Hendrick had three top-10 finishers at other high-downforce tracks in Homestead-Miami Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kevin Harvick holds the best-average finish of active drivers at Kansas with a 9.3. However, Stewart-Haas Racing has not shown speed on tracks in the high-downforce package. The Ford team hit rock bottom at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as all four drivers finished a lap down and Harvick was the highest finisher in 20th. He is the only driver to score a top 10 for the team with this aero package. Harvick will have a good chance for a great run on Sunday as he rolls off fourth.
With a 13th-place starting spot, Bubba Wallace’s fortunes need to turn around sooner rather than later at 23XI Racing. While panic shouldn’t set in yet for the rookie team, Wallace has had multiple chances to score top 10’s, but has come up short due to mistakes and bad decisions when it comes to pit stops. So far in 2021, Wallace doesn’t have a top-15 finish and, at the moment, possesses a worse average finish (21.3) than last year with Richard Petty Motorsports (21.1)
Stages for the Cup race end on lap 80, lap 160 and the finish on lap 267. There will be a competition caution on lap 25. Coverage for the Buschy McBusch 400 begins at 3:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.
Pit stall assignments:
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2021/04/27/goodyear-fast-facts-kansas-5/