Next Up: Kansas!

Returning to the mile-and-a-half track segment of the schedule, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, along with the Camping World Truck Series, moves to Kansas Speedway for the running of the 400 and the Toyota Tundra 250. The Sprint Cup event takes place Saturday, May 7 starting at 7:30 pm EST, while the Camping World Truck race runs tonight at 8:30 pm EST. It’s a return to night racing after several weeks of afternoon events, a change welcomed by many fans.

In the 400 event, Jimmie Johnson will be defending his race win from last year, with hopes of rebounding from motorsports-NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver Jimmie Johnson Pitstopthe collective disaster that was Talladega. His 22nd place finish there was the result of his involvement in one of the many wrecks that devastated the bulk of the field, so he’s looking for a smoother run this week. He’s won three times at Kansas, and his average finish there is 8.7, so he’s clearly one to watch. Other dominant forces for the event include Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Kevin Harvick, all previous winners at Kansas. But don’t count out the rookies, where Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have been running like anything but first-timers. It should be a close, competitive Cup event. Sprint Cup qualifying is scheduled for Friday, May 6 at 5:45 pm, with two practice sessions scheduled for earlier in the day (10:30 am and 12:30 pm).

For the Camping World Truck event, defending race champion Matt Crafton will try to improve on his current 11th place position in the 2016 points race. Crafton’s last win was in the season’s closing event at Homestead, his 11th in the series, and it was by a resounding margin (nearly 3 seconds) over runner-up John Hunter Nemechek.  In last year’s Kansas spring event, Crafton led only six laps in his 8.4 second win over Ryan Newman. So far inpractice this year, John Wes Townley looks fast, as does Spencer Gallagher, Cameron Hayley,Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and Johnny Sauter, as well as Crafton. Qualifying is set for 3:30 pm today, with the green flag set to drop at 8:30 pm EST this evening.

Kansas Speedway, located near Kansas City, is a 1.5 tri-oval asphalt-surfaced track with moderate banking (17 to 20 degrees in the turns and 9 to 11 degree banking on the front stretch). NASCAR has been staging events at this facility since it opened in 2001, with all three of its top series having a regular presence there. Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) also maintains Kansas on its schedule, with its season-closing Kansas ARCA 150 scheduled for October 14, 2016.

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