NASCAR Sprint Cup at Kansas Speedway fourth of the Chase

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup series makes their second visit of the season to Kansas Speedway this weekend as the fourth race of the Chase.

Last weekend’s win by Kurt Busch at Dover jumbled things up even more with both he and Jimmie Johnson making major moves forward. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards now find themselves tied for the points lead as Tony Stewart took a giant step backwards after winning the first two races of the Chase.

The only thing clear with seven races left is that Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr are getting closer to elimination. As for the other nine drivers, the separation is a mere 19 points.

Johnson’s runner-up finish moved him up five positions in the standings and has the five-time defending champ once again lurking for the title. It was only a week ago where many of us were discussing that the reign might be over.

“Are we out of this, still?” Johnson jokingly said after the race. “Last week, I was considered done.”

Johnson’s resume at Kansas has been impressive. In his last five starts there he hasn’t finished worse than ninth and includes a 2008 win.

Brad Keselowski won the first of his three races on the season at Kansas in June, coasting to the victory on fumes as he played the fuel mileage strategy to perfection. He finds himself right in the mix of things only points out.

Keselowski’s win was the misfortune of his teammate Kurt Busch who led 152 laps at Kansas but was forced to give up the lead late and pit for fuel. After getting the win last week, it looks like he and crew chief Steve Addington are back on the same page again.

Jeff Gordon has finished fifth or better in his last five Kansas starts and captured the first win on the track in 2002. Gordon dropped four positions to ninth last week, but should be able to make up some ground on most of the drivers this week.

Stewart should be able to pick up the pace again this week as well based on past history. He is a two-time winner at Kansas and has finished eighth or better in his last three starts there.

Kansas is a track that plays right into Edwards strengths since it’s a 1.5-mile track. Although he hasn’t won there yet, he’s excelled by having finishes of sixth or better in five of his eight career starts there.

A driver outside the Chase that could make some noise this week is Greg Biffle who has won two of the last five races there, including last season. He’s finished third or better in six of his last eight starts there.

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