Kansas NASCAR race could have been in Las Vegas

May 31, 2011 3:04 AM

Kansas Speedway gets the first of its two races this week, the first time Kansas has had two races a season since the track opened in 2001.

California’s inability to attract NASCAR fans among the millions of things to do in Southern California became an opportunity for Kansas as the parent company, International Speedway Corp., swapped dates.

It was hoped at this time last season Las Vegas would be in the mix for an additional date, but in order for that to happen, their parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc., would have had to trade one of their existing dates.

While Vegas lost out on Atlanta’s date, Kentucky was the big winner – hosting its first Cup race July 9.

This week’s Kansas race is kind of a big deal because it’s the last race of the season Fox will broadcast. Next week TNT will begin its coverage before giving way to ESPN in August.

Some people disagree, but I find the NASCAR coverage on Fox to be the all-time best. The team of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds is unmatched and they can make any non-NASCAR watcher a fan just because they are so thorough in their explanations to what’s going on in the race.

The configuration of Kansas Speedway is a lot like what the old setup was at Las Vegas. It’s a mile-and-half track with 15 degrees of banking in the turns. If we were going to make a comparison with any track that has run already, Fontana might be the closest even though it’s a 2-mile venue.

The best performer at Kansas over the years has been Greg Biffle who owns an 8.1 average finish in his nine starts. In his last seven starts, he’s finished third or better in six of them including two wins. He won this race last season as well as 2007.

All the Roush drivers should be considered the drivers to beat. Even David Ragan can be grouped in with Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth as a contender to win.