Newman speeds to Kansas as favorite

September 24, 2002 7:17 AM
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Kansas Speedway is the site of this weeks NASCAR Winston Cup race. Last season’s inaugural race was won by eventual season points champion Jeff Gordon (8-1).

When beginning the handicapping stretch for this race, one must consider all time trials for tracks comparable to Kansas such as Texas, Las Vegas, Chicago, California, and Michigan.

The most consistently fast driver in combined testing sessions is Ryan Newman (7-1) who comes in as the favorite. Newman has been fast on each of the similar tracks in every practice he’s run.

If they only scored points on practices and qualifying, Newman would be the hands down winner at this point in the season. Unfortunately for Newman, the drivers all must actually participate in the race itself.

Of late however, Newman has been driving more like a distinguished veteran rather than the rookie. Newman finally captured his first victory of the season two weeks ago at New Hampshire and followed that up with a solid finish at Dover.

Currently, Newman is seventh in points, 225 points behind the leader. Overall this season, Newman has 17 top 10 finishes with 13 being in the top five Both of those marks are tops in the circuit.

Look for Newman to be the top candidate to win the pole and race.

The Palms Fred Crespi likes another driver, who like Newman, has been spectacular all season but can’t escape the poor performances that doomed his chances at winning the title. Matt Kenseth (10-1) leads all drivers in wins with four, and according to Crespi, this is another prime spot for him.

"Roush racing with Jeff Burton and Mark Martin have always done well on these type of tracks in the past," Crepsi said. This season, we’ve seen the likes of Kenseth and Kurt Busch continue the Roush tradition. Kenseth already has two of his wins this season on the cookie cutter tracks."

Mandalay Bay’s Hugh Citron likes the duo of Jimmie Johnson (8-1) and Jeff Gordon (8-1).

"Gordon really hurt himself in the points last week and Johnson managed to gain slightly on Martin, but their combined efforts week to week this season is remarkable," Citron said. "I like looking at past winners of a specific track and also who is running well in the last two or three races and by that alone, I come up with the teammates."

Johnson, like Newman, has been very impressive on the wide flatter ovals. He won at California and perhaps more importantly has a championship within grasp.

As for the other contenders, Mark Martin (12-1) was once the king of these types of tracks. Martin claimed wins at Vegas, California, Texas, and Michigan over the last five seasons and now has the championship lead by 30 points.

Sterling Marlin (15-1), who led in points almost the entire season is 81 behind in fourth place. Marlin had a strong fifth place finish in this race last year.

At this point last season, Marlin’s new Dodge team was gaining a tremendous amount of momentum by doing well on virtually every track. That momentum spilled over into this year, but they haven’t been able to maintain that consistency over the last two months.

Tony Stewart (8-1) is still in a very favorable position to win the championship. He is only 74 points behind. Last year, Stewart finished eighth at Kansas. Look for similar results this week.

Station Casinos books have reposted odds to win the Championship and will adjust each week till the end of the year. Currently, Tony Stewart is still the favorite at 2-1, followed by Jimmie Johnson at (5-2).

Current leader Mark Martin is (3-1) followed by Jeff Gordon at 4-1.

Stations also posted odds on Formula 1 race this weekend in Indianapolis. The odds are more a prop format however, because they ask which of the 20 drivers will finish higher.

Nearly every driver is listed with the exception of the Ferrari’s driven by Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher. Juan Pablo Montoya (2-1) is the favorite to fnish highest in the USGP among drivers listed.