Podium Preview: Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas

All in all, Sunday's Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas could be quite exciting. (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

All in all, Sunday’s Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas could be quite exciting. (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Following an action packed April showered with short tracks and a superspeedway, May kicks off at Kansas with Sunday’s Buschy McBusch 400. By all means, the 10th race of this year’s NASCAR Cup Series season may serve as a battle between this series’ best drivers and teams.

Certainly, Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson seem like surefire favorites for the Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas. Then again, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr might like a word about that.

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Adam LucasAshley HobbsCody ShoppeKobe LambethLuis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle Raynor, Taylor KitchenTerra Jones and yours truly think about impressive drivers and teams after the first 10 races of 2021 and potential safety considerations after Joey Logano’s terrifying Talladega crash.

Podium Preview: Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas
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Question 1
By all means, Daniel Suarez and Trackhouse Racing are off to a solid start. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By all means, Daniel Suarez and Trackhouse Racing are off to a solid start. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kansas kicks off the NASCAR action in May with Charlotte wrapping up the action on Memorial Day weekend. Which drivers and teams impress you the most after 10 races? Defend your answer!

Lambeth : For the most part, I am most surprised by the overall performance of Hendrick Motorsports and its newest driver, Kyle Larson. I thought it would take Yung Money a while to get back in the swing of things in NASCAR land. Larson did not miss a single beat. 10 races in, three Hendrick drivers have found victory lane. William Byron took Homestead, Kyle Larson found victory lane in Sin City and the iconic No. 48 Chevrolet returned to the winner’s circle at Richmond with Alex Bowman. Surprisingly, the 2020 Cup champion, Chase Elliott, is the only Hendrick driver yet to win this season. It is probably just a matter of time before the pride of Dawsonville scores his first win of 2021. Is Hendrick back? I think so!

Raynor : I would have to say Christopher Bell winning his first race for JGR at the Daytona road course was huge and a shocker. He’s also been consistently good and doing better than Kyle Busch at the moment. I knew Bell would win, just not as quick as he did. I am also impressed with Hendrick Motorsports for really stepping it up this year. The addition of Kyle Larson has been great and all the cars seem to be performing. Now if Chase Elliott can win. 

Lucas : William Byron has been consistently consistent this season, being the top Hendrick driver in the points. I believe that the reunion with former crew chief Rudy Fugle has been tremendously beneficial to the No. 24 teams on track performance. The resurgence of Hendrick Motorsports as a whole has fans buzzing about “the good old days” of when they were the powerhouse organization to beat.

Then we hit a few gap seasons, as the aging current and future hall of famers either retired to the broadcast booths, or to endeavor into an entirely different form of motorsports. Chase Elliott was the autonomous leader during the “dark times”, but even then, those dark times weren’t all that dark. The team is set for a potential four car championship run later this season. The sky’s the limit for the organization, it’ll be interesting to see who can hold the crown of top Hendrick driver.

Right now I would say Byron because of said consistency. But then again Chase Elliott is finally getting over his championship hangover (and a good chunk of races over the summer are road courses) and Kyle Larson & Alex Bowman are both always lurking within the top ten on race days. The summer stretch of 2021 will be must-see racing!

Tiongson :  While it would be easy to say a driver and team like William Byron and his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team, I’ve got to hand it to Daniel Suarez and his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing team. Let’s face it. When Suarez was announced to drive the No. 99, expectations weren’t the highest nor the lowest. We didn’t know what to expect but they’ve been such a pleasant surprise as a team that can contend for top 10 finishes on a regular basis.

I did not think Suarez would battle for the Food City Dirt Race win at Bristol. But, he was in the mix all race long before placing fourth. If he and crew chief Travis Mack can continue building on their strong start, this could be a combination that may make this year’s Playoffs.

Jones :  Going with the top-tier teams, this is probably a toss-up between Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske, given that Penske has seen each of their drivers in victory lane, and Hendrick Motorsport is hot on their heels. Looking past the front of the field, Roush Fenway Racing has been showing speed this season and that’s been fun to see! Are they Playoff contenders? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it has been a fun start to the season as we watch other drivers and teams mix it up. 

Question 2
Certainly, Joey Logano spoke truthfully about his Talladega crash. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Certainly, Joey Logano spoke truthfully about his Talladega crash. (Photo: Getty Images)

While racing is an inherently dangerous sport, should NASCAR consider additional changes to improve upon the safety of drivers at the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega?

Sisoler: I think they should. I’m pretty sure they’re investigating why Logano’s car went airborne and why the car had that severe of damage from landing on its roof, but I think they need to do a bit more. If Bubba Wallace doesn’t react that fast and take evasive action, Logano isn’t exaggerating by saying it would have been another Ryan Newman-esque wreck. If anything, they need to figure out why the 22 blew over and make the change to prevent that from happening.

Shoppe :  I don’t expect any significant changes made to the package for the two remaining superspeedway races with this current car. I’d like to think the next gen car will have some steps to improve the safety further. Hopefully going forward we can see the safest racing as possible without losing the excitement of speedway racing. 

Hobbs :  This conversation comes up every time there is a wreck at Talladega and Daytona. There are bad wrecks at all tracks, but these are the ones that make the headlines. NASCAR has implemented so many safety precautions already, and if the drivers want more, they should be able to advocate for themselves to get more. But what more could NASCAR do? They’ve tried to change the car itself, they’ve tried to reduce the HP of the cars, they’ve played with spoiler sizes, and so much. I am not an engineer so I do not know what else they could do.

Torres :  To be brutally honest, last Sunday was probably the type of superspeedway racing I enjoy. Yes, the danger and questionable moves were there but it wasn’t a total demolition derby since the implementation of stage racing in 2017. I stand that it’s how the drivers run that defines how racing goes, especially on the aggression side. The package was wild, but had minimal complaints.

The biggest issue I have with its safety is the cars having blowovers with relative ease. Sometimes when a car flies, the next fear is would anyone hit the car? Bubba Wallace just clipped Joey Logano’s airborne Mustang, which saw brutal damage on the latter’s roof. So much, it caved down and that’s not okay.

Say what you want about Logano’s attitude when things don’t go his way. Say what you want about Logano being a hypocrite due to his aggressive driving. He has a valid point. There’s still room for improvement on its roof and that’s twice in the past 14 months we’ve seen roof damage. They must find a way to strengthen the roof infrastructure to avoid severe damage like we’ve seen from Logano and Ryan Newman in that time span.

Kitchen :  NASCAR should continue to expand its safety procedures and features in these cars.

Honestly, I am not sure how NASCAR can keep these cars on the ground because no matter what they add or take away, we continue to see these cars go airborne. 

I think this aero package created some of the most exciting racing I have seen in a few years at Talladega, but I am also aware the current package created some of the dangerous runs that contributed to Joey Logano’s scary wreck.

Safety and entertainment are hard to balance and enhancing one over the other comes at a cost to the fans or the drivers, but it should not have to.

These situations arise every time NASCAR goes to a superspeedway. NASCAR has already done so much to make these cars safe for the drivers, but the question is, “what more can they do”?

After two laps around Kansas, things did not get quite Buschy McBusch for the team. Next, we reflect on last Sunday’s GEICO 500, race 10 of the season, with our race and points report from Talladega!
In this case, Raynor reigned supreme at Talladega.

In this case, Raynor reigned supreme at Talladega.

Meanwhile, the points battle shakes up a lot.

Meanwhile, the points battle shakes up a lot.

Now, Ashley Hobbs crunches the numbers for Kansas with the best race entitlement sponsor name.
First, here's how your favorite team fares in the Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas.

First, here’s how your favorite team fares in the Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas.

Since 2011, the Buschy McBusch 400 winner has an average starting spot 8.6, led an average of 54.4 laps, started in the top five 50% of the time and started in the top 10 70% of the time.

Since 2011, the Buschy McBusch 400 winner has an average starting spot 8.6, led an average of 54.4 laps, started in the top five 50% of the time and started in the top 10 70% of the time.

Of course, the past three Cup champs are quite similar in performance at Kansas.

Of course, the past three Cup champs are quite similar in performance at Kansas.

Here, we consider the trends in the past 10 Buschy McBusch 400 races at Kansas.

Here, we consider the trends in the past 10 Buschy McBusch 400 races at Kansas.

Next, consider the trends in the past five Buschy McBusch 400 races at Kansas.

Next, consider the trends in the past five Buschy McBusch 400 races at Kansas.

For. Real. Again.

For. Real. Again.

Last but not least, here are our picks for Sunday’s Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas!

Tiongson : I was torn with a trio of great drivers like Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Alex Bowman. Ultimately, I chose the driver whose average finish is 8.29 in the past seven races at Kansas. In this case, Alex Bowman seems set for a win this Sunday at Kansas in his No. 48 ride, a familiar place for this storied car.

Kitchen : I know Alex Bowman is starting further back in the pack. But, the Hendrick cars have had great success at this track. Their team leads the others in most wins at Kansas, though not by much.

I struggled to choose between Bowman and William Byron this weekend since the 24 team is on a hot streak. I might live to regret this decision but I have a really good feeling about the 48 team and their chances this weekend.

Kansas seems to be the type of track where a good starting position does not always guarantee a good finish, and that is why my bets are on Bowman. If the 48 team does not end up in victory lane, then I truly think another HMS driver will win this race.

Hobbs : The Buschy McBusch Race 400, which is the best race name ever, will go to Kyley McLarsony (Kyle Larson). Too far? Too bad! Larson has been the best this season on intermediate tracks and he will be victorious yet again.

Raynor : I’m choosing Larson as he won Las Vegas and is good at these tracks.

Lucas : Hendrick Motorsports is all the rage this season. So, I’m hopping onboard the hype train as well! Kyle Larson will park it in victory lane this weekend.

TPF Stats : It’s going to happen. …it’s going to happen. That is what Kevin Harvick has been saying all season (at least, I think).

Lambeth : So far, Stewart-Haas Racing has been working hard to catch up with the likes of Hendrick, Gibbs and Penske. Lately, the team appears to be getting closer to securing their maiden win of 2021. The organization’s hard work will pay off with a Kevin Harvick victory in Kansas!

Jones : As much as I wanted to pick a Busch brother to win the Buschy McBusch Race, my gut is telling me that Martin Truex Jr is about to go on a hot streak. (Wait. Did I say that a few weeks ago? Maybe. But it’s happening this time.) So, Truex. Hot streak. Watch out!

Shoppe : Going to one of his best tracks and having one of the best starts to a season, Ryan Blaney will win his second race of the year!

Sisoler : Denny Hamlin has had some solid runs at Kansas, and I think he can go do it again on Sunday.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Buschy McBusch 400 at Kansas!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into this race? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family, and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

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Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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