Why do we have two races at Kansas Speedway every year? I mean, I get the need to regionalize, and I get that it represents an area of the country (America's heartland) that does like stock car racing.
But why Kansas? Did you know that of the closest endings in the NASCAR Cup Series in the last 30 years, none of the top 50 finishes have come at Kansas? The closest to it was No. 53, when Joe Nemechek edged out Ricky Rudd in the Banquet 400 in October 2004 — in that epic 0.081-second margin that hardly anybody outside of Joe and Ricky remembers.
I hate to be negative about the place, but could we only go there once per season? And not during the postseason, which is scheduled to happen in the second race of the racing playoffs on September 10?
Kansas Speedway is that track where you see a guy driving the high line in the lead, and like nine seconds behind him is his closest competitor for the lead, and he's driving the low line, and you need binoculars for your rear-view mirror just to see the next closest guy. We talk constantly about what hurts this sport these days, and this is one of those things. About 10 years ago when NASCAR was beginning to slide a bit, it always boggled my brain to watch two races apiece at Fontana out in California, and two at Kansas, and one at Darlington, and none at Wilkesboro or Rockingham.
Thankfully, the sport has fixed some of that and realized that building cookie-cutter 1.5-mile tracks in Denver and Seattle and Portland or wherever — tracks that would have resembled Kansas — was not the answer to preserving our beloved sport.
This isn't a track where you're going to see a fierce, legit, battle for the lead. This is what I call an old Jack Roush track where the engineers are way ahead of the driver's innate talent. Roush's cars were always built stout for 1.5-mile tracks, and his drivers — led by the vanilla-plain zen master Matt Kenseth, a series champion around 20 years ago — performed best. Roush's group didn't tend to do as much at the more exciting tracks, like the short tracks or plate tracks or even road courses — but when it came to the myriad of 1.5-mile tracks in front of crowds where the stands were 50-percent full, the Roush drivers did well.
This isn't an anti state-of-Kansas "rant," as we should all have a lot of love for America's bread basket. Jayhawkers are a great group of people. I just wish sometimes that the powers that be in stock car racing would mix it up when they add tracks to the finalized schedule each year. How about just one race a year at Kansas — if any (okay, maybe that's asking a bit much).
When you can go grab a cold beverage, run to the water closet, go get a haircut, go cut the lawn, make a trip to your local home improvement store, orbit the moon three times — and still make it back to your couch in time for the final 50 laps. And you didn't miss anything? Why would NASCAR figure that this is a race that fans will embrace? Sure, the drivers and owners like it because cars don't get pounded to dust and come home in one piece, but fans enjoy racing, not joyriding on a Sunday afternoon — picnic basket in the back seat — on a wide-open country road with no traffic.
The phrase is "going in circles and turning left" — one of the biggest knocks on the sport: two races at Kansas doesn't help. But, there are so many awesome tracks in NASCAR that would be great options. How about last week's venue at Dover? Why not go to the Monster Mile twice a year? We don't, currently.
The fans will speak this weekend, I can promise you. On Sunday, there will be more empties than people sitting in the stands wearing their favorite driver's colors. But the good thing is we get Darlington the next weekend for Mother's Day and the re-introduction of North Wilkesboro for the all-star weekend after a two-decade plus hiatus from the sport.
MORE: Aric Almirola's Terrifying Wreck at Kansas Speedway Was the Worst of His Career
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