Thursday, October 1, 2009

NASCAR Tracks: Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 25:  Mike Skinner in h...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Kansas Speedway is one of the newest tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule, opening in May 2001 in Kansas City, Kansas.  It's one of several 1.5-mile, D-shaped "cookie cutter" tri-ovals.  You've seen the same design in various sizes at Las Vegas, California, Michigan, Atlanta, Texas, and other tracks.

Kansas Speedway is considered a sister track to Chicagoland Speedway, which was built around the same time and is also owned by the France family's International Speedway Corporation.  Kansas is very similar to Chicagoland except that Kansas is a little flatter with 15° of banking in the turns, 10.4° in the front stretch and 5° on the back straightaway. Chicagoland is also one continuous turn with a noticeable bend in the back stretch whereas Kansas has a straight 2207-feet back stretch.

Kansas Speedway was pretty boring when it first opened.  Drivers could only run in one groove, making passing almost impossible.  That has changed as the racing surface has aged.  Now it's a multi-groove track and it's a bit easier to pass there.

There have only been ten Sprint Cup races held at Kansas.  Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle are the only drivers to have won twice.  Gordon won in 2001 and 2002.  Stewart won in 2006 and 2009.  Biffle won in 2007 and 2010.  Matt Kenseth holds the track qualifying record, 29.858 secs. (180.856 mph) set in 2005.

There were plans to build a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino overlooking Turn Two.  Kansas Speedway was also planning to add a road course.  Those plans have been put on hold since the bottom dropped out of the economy.

Kansas Speedway hosts one race from each NASCAR national series per year.  The Sprint Cup race, the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods, takes place in October.  It is the third race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The Nationwide Series runs at Kansas on the same weekend.  The Camping World Truck Series races have been held at various times ranging from April to June.

In 2010, NASCAR made several changes to their Sprint Cup schedule that take effect in 2011.  Atlanta and Fontana each lost one of their two races.  Kentucky Speedway was awarded a race.  Kansas Speedway will add a second race to be held in June.

NASCAR tracks index page
Sprint Cup race winners
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