FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Chase Tightens for Top 5 Going into Newly Paved Kansas

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2012

Jimmie Johnson gets into his No. 48 Chevrolet at Charlotte.  Credit: David Yeazell
Jimmie Johnson gets into his No. 48 Chevrolet at Charlotte. Credit: David Yeazell

The Hollywood Casino 400, the fifth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup trophy, will roar at the starting line of the 1.5-mile tri-oval with 15-degree banking at Kansas Speedway. Fans not in the Midwest with tickets on Sunday, October 21 can catch the action at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The track foundation was recently configured for enhanced variable banking before new asphalt surface was applied.

Newly paved tracks wipe out all the meticulous data that drivers, crew chiefs and teams yearn to gather and utilize. The reconfiguration and new asphalt insures that it’s a clean slate for all.

The Chase leaders have survived half of the 10-race competition and have a total of 240 points remaining to claim in their championship quest. It will take good finishes and likely wins to be the one to get the most points and the big prize.

Only 35 points determine the spread between the top five in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. Any equipment failure or crash could drop a contender to a much lower spot.

From seventh place back all drivers are more than 48 points or one whole race away from the leader. It will very difficult for them to advance unless the leaders falter.

The top contenders, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne, had thoughts about the next race with the new surface.


Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Dodge)

“I know I speak for everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge team when I say we can’t wait to get to Kansas to prove that our finish at Charlotte was an anomaly, a blip on the radar,” Keselowski said. “And going to a track where we’ve won before gives us a little extra confidence, although it is a new surface that we’ll be breaking in.”


Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)

“It’ll help set the stage for 2013, but the cars will be so much different when we come back that it’s going to be hard,” Johnson said. “But at least we’ll have a data file. That’s what’s really key for the teams is to get a current data file set.”


Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)

“As we have seen with all the repaved race tracks, the grip level and speeds are way up and there isn’t much tire wear,” Hamlin said. “It’ll take a little bit to get used to the new surface, but I’m confident that Darian (Grubb) and the guys will prepare a fast FedEx Camry this weekend. We’re still in the thick of the Chase with five races to go, and we have some good tracks coming up for us.”


Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)

“That’s probably the biggest thing is to come off this win going into your hometown—the family and friends, everybody that goes there, it’s just so important to be able to roll in on a positive note,” Bowyer said. “If we could possibly pull this off again in Kansas it would be—that's my—do you dare say Daytona 500, but it truly is. That's the biggest race you can possibly win is in front of your hometown.”


Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)

“It’ll be good to get on the track for a couple extra days,” Kahne said. “The most important thing will be getting rubber down on the new pavement. The test will help with that. It should make for some better racing on Sunday, and hopefully we can learn some things for the other mile-and-a-half tracks that are coming up.”


One driver and team will figure out the new Kansas surface and take the checker flag home after 267 fast laps.


FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.