Kansas Speedway featured six winners in the past six races at the 1.5-mile track.
That includes Kurt Busch, last year’s winner of the AdventHealth 400 who will be in the FS1 broadcast booth for Sunday’s race. Bubba Wallace was the most recent to visit Victory Lane in Kansas in the fall race, filling in for the injured Busch and giving the 23XI team both wins at the track in 2022.
It was the first time since 1972 that a car swept races at a track with two different drivers in the same year. Tyler Reddick is driving the No. 45 on Sunday with an opportunity to stretch the streak to three and set a new record.
Of the three most successful active drivers at Kansas — three-time winners Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick — only Logano has a victory (at Atlanta) through the first 11 races of this season.
Three drivers who currently sit among the top five in the championship points standings — including leader Ross Chastain, Harvick and Ryan Blaney — are still seeking their first wins of the season.
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
The Distance: 400 miles
Defending Champion: Kurt Busch
Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
BEST BETS – 6 PACK
Kyle Larson (+500)
The pre-race favorite, Larson is already a three-time winner at Kansas and has finished sixth or better in eight of his past eight starts at the track. After opening at +500, Larson’s odds have shortened while being backed by 10.6 percent of the outright winner money at BetMGM, second most among the drivers on Sunday’s grid.
Denny Hamlin (+700)
Also a three-time winner at Kansas, Hamlin is seventh in the championship standings. He earned back-to-back wins at Kansas in 2019-20 and also won there in 2012. Hamlin has two top-fives in the past three races, and is a part owner of the 3XI Racing team that swept the Kansas races last year. “Kansas has been a great track for us the past few years, so I’m looking forward to this weekend,” Hamlin said. He was one of seven drivers to post two top-10 finishes at Kansas last year, and leads the Cup Series by a large margin with 2,262 laps run in the top 10 this season.
William Byron (+800)
Byron, who has six top-10s in his past seven starts at Kansas, opened at +650 and leads the grid with 7.0 percent of the total winning bets backing him. He finished sixth at Kansas in the fall.
Martin Truex Jr. (+900)
Coming off his first win of the season at the rain-delayed Wurth 400 at Dover, Truex Jr. stops at another track where he has enjoyed significant success. That includes 11 top-10s in his past 12 Kansas races, including a pair of wins in 2017.
Kevin Harvick (+1600)
Harvick is not only tied for the most career wins at Kansas, he has the most top-five (12) and top-10 (19) finishes and most poles (five) among active drivers, and his 949 laps led is 100 more than anyone else on Sunday’s grid. He has not won since Richmond last summer, but Harvick does own five top 10s through the first 12 races of the season – although none in the past three races.
Bubba Wallace (+1600)
The winner in Kansas last fall, Wallace is BetMGM’s biggest liability this week. He has been backed by the second most tickets at the sportsbook at 6.8 percent while Wallace’s odds have lengthened since opening at +1400. He needs a good weekend as Wallace enters Kansas 21st in the Cup Series standings, 15 points out of the playoff cutline.
LONG SHOT PICK
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+12500)
Stenhouse Jr. is the BetMGM’s second biggest liability this week while the Daytona 500 winner has drawn 3.6 percent of the bets and 1.6 percent of the money. However, all three of his career victories have come on superspeedways – a pair at Daytona and one at Talladega.
(NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this story)
This article first appeared on Field Level Media and was syndicated with permission.
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The Rocket Man is launching back into NASCAR’s Cup Series. Ryan Newman, nicknamed the Rocket Man, will be returning to NASCAR with Rick Ware Racing for select events this season starting with the May 12 race at Darlington Raceway.
The 45-year-old from South Bend, Indiana, was one of NASCAR’s star drivers who began racing in 1993 in USAC and the All-American Midget Series where he won both Rookie of the Year and the series championship.
He started his Cup career in 2000 with Penske Racing. He competed in the series while finishing up his engineering degree at Purdue University which made him at the time one of the rare NASCAR drivers with a college degree and who could speak to the ever-growing engineering side of the sport.
He won 13 of his 18 NASCAR Cup wins with Penske including 8 in 2003 and included the 2008 Daytona 500. Newman moved to Stewart-Haas Racing, the newly formed team with Tony Stewart, in 2008. He won 4 races with that team that ended after the 2013 season when SHR announced that Kevin Harvick would be joining the team and Newman would be out due to the lack of funding for a fourth car.
Newman went to Richard Childress Racing the following season finishing the 2014 season second in the championship points, a career best, despite winning no races. He won only 1 race during this RCR tenure and left the team at the end of 2018 after his career worst season and joined Roush Fenway Racing.
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In 2020 while leading the Daytona 500 coming to the line, Newman was involved in a horrific accident that put him in the hospital the ended with the stunning, and heartwarming sight of him leaving the hospital just two days later holding the hands of his two young daughters. He would return to racing 3 events later, but many felt he was never the same and he stepped back from the sport at the end of 2021 after being replaced by the team’s new minority owner Brad Keselowski.
Newman holds the distinction of winning 51 poles in his career, ninth on the all-time list.
After stepping away from NASCAR Cup racing, Newman has raced in the NASCAR modified series and in 2022 joined the Superstar Racing Experience owned in part by Tony Stewart, where he finished second in the championship to Marco Andretti. He has committed to returning to that series this season.
Team owner Rick Ware knew of Newman and his talents in the driver’s early years.
“I remember watching ‘Thursday Night Thunder’ on ESPN and seeing Ryan compete against some stout competition in those days,” said Ware. “I became a fan then and when he first came to NASCAR, I knew he was going to be a great driver and win a lot of races.
“He brings great depth and insight to RWRRWR +1.9% while we continue to grow our team. Ryan’s been a great ambassador for our sport and Ford. We’re really looking forward to racing with him this season.”
In 26 career starts at Darlington, Newman has 7 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes, with an average finishing position of 12.3. He was named to NASCAR’s Greatest Driver’s list in April.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Rick Ware Racing and Ford,” Newman said. “I think this will be good for all of us with our combined experience and knowledge.
“Being part of the Throwback Weekend at one of my favorite tracks in Darlington is pretty special. After recently being named one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers, it carries even some significance.”
In a release announcing his return Friday, the team didn’t specify which races beyond Darlington Newman will appear in.