Kansas Story Lines

Kyle Busch

Busch says he has a new mindset for Kansas, along with crew chief Dave Rogers, and is treating tonight’s race as a blank piece of paper. (Photo: Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - There are several stories to watch in Saturday night’s 5-Hour ENERGY 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Tire Wear
There were some concerns about tire wear heading into the weekend from several Sprint Cup Series drivers and crew chiefs. However, as the weekend has progressed those concerns seem to have dissipated for now. But it’s still unclear how the grip level, which will increase dramatically as the race progresses in the relative col conditions of the event, will impact the tire’s durability. The combination of the lightning fast speeds and first time racing at Kansas under the lights for the Cup Series still makes this story something to keep an eye on.

Can Kyle Busch Sweep
His Friday night Camping World Truck Series win came in relatively easy fashion once he got ahead of the field and the race ended with a long green flag run. But Kansas is Busch’s worst track on the Sprint Cup Series and the memory of his disastrous day in last fall’s Chase race, which effectively eliminated him from championship contention, is still a fresh wound. Busch says he has a new mindset along with crew chief Dave Rogers and is treating tonight’s race as a blank piece of paper. We’ll see if he needs to pull out his eraser when the night ends.

Johnson, Kenseth Winless Streak
The two drivers that combined for 13 wins last year and battled for the Sprint Cup Series championship still have goose eggs in the win column through the first ten races of 2014. Neither drives seems overly concerned about the drought and are in no danger of missing the Chase even if they somehow go the rest of the regular season without a victory. However deep down there has to be some pressure on two of the sport’s biggest names to roll into Victory Lane. Will one do so on Saturday night?

Kahne, Stewart Slumps
Much like Johnson and Kenseth, neither Kahne nor Stewart is ready to hit the panic button after their slow starts to the campaign. Stewart actually showed tremendous speed in Friday’s qualifying session and will start eighth tonight. Kahne, who has run well at Kansas in the past, will come from the 17th starting spot. There are whispers about potential crew chief changes around each team if things don’t get headed in the right direction. Solid performances by each will put that speculation to rest.

Kansas Under The Lights
Kansas Speedway track officials have coveted nighttime Sprint Cup Series race since lights were installed a few years ago. The wish finally came through when the track inherited the Mother’s Day Saturday night date held by Darlington Raceway for several years. Initial response is positive around the Kansas City market and the community has embraced the concept of the track holding its first of two weekends in prime time. Perhaps tonight’s race is the start of a new Kansas tradition.

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