Before delving into this week’s rankings, let’s wish Aric Almirola all the best as he heals from his back injury. Hopefully, he’ll be back in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford soon.
Now, let’s see a show of hands who thought Kansas was going to be one of, if not, the best race of the season? Anyone? Neither did I. However, the trend continues. Great racing, four wide at times, side by side through out the field, and even some passes for the lead. It was the Go Bowling 400. A stellar game was rolled.
On The Gas…
5) The Wood Brothers Pit Crew – Normally we like to stick with drivers. However, when the stars shine bright, on or off the racing surface, they deserve a spot here. The No. 21 team’s over the wall crew busted off stops consistently between 11.3 and 11.8 seconds all night long, keeping their driver at the front.
4) Trevor Bayne – Hello, Roush! The two car pairing seems to be paying off well as we are starting to see more of the Nos. 6 and 17 Fords up front. Bayne scored his second career top ten on a mile and a half track and his first since Las Vegas in 2012.
3) Kyle Busch – The Candyman can win, even with a red nose. Scoring his fourth top-five of the season, Busch led twice for 59 laps and won stage one at Kansas. He may not be in Victory Lane yet. However, once he makes it to the winner’s circle, it could be like that sticky bag of M&M’s that you pull and pull. It’ll finally burst open and they are everywhere.
2) Ryan Blaney – He won his first career pole, had a lightning fast car and pit crew, and if not for a few late race restarts and the mile and a half master pulling away, Blaney could have joined Billy Wade as the only other driver to win his first pole and first race on the same weekend. Wade accomplished this feat back in 1964. Blaney had to be asking when he’ll win.
1) Martin Truex Jr. – As if it could be anyone else. I’m kicking myself because I didn’t think about the guy that is as good as any on mile and a half tracks for my fantasy pick. He’s got the stage points, the wins, and a track coming up that he felt generous on last year, allowing Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano to lead the six laps that he didn’t. Don’t bet against Truex next week in the 600.
Kansas was a great race for many, but certainly some left the heartland not feeling the love.
On The Brakes…
5) For the 11 teams not clearing inspection, this has to stop. If qualifying isn’t important to these teams and not making it through tech, then it’s time to ratchet up the penalty or eliminate qualifying altogether. Take tires away, start them from pit road on the green flag, do something. Plenty of cars can do it right. So should everyone else.
4) Ryan Newman – Since his win at Phoenix and two top tens on the short tracks, Newman has nothing but mediocre finishes and bad luck with an oil pump failure this past weekend. Maybe that was a blessing to just put him out of his misery early.
3) Chase Elliott – Next time Elliott comes down pit road early in a race and crew chief Alan Gustafson calls for two tires, he may say, “Not a chance. I’m not getting pummeled by a slow car coming in behind,” which is what happened at Kansas, even with fair warning saying, “Watch out for the 95 coming in late.”
2) Joey Logano – Brakes were getting used up with 212 mph speeds entering corner. Joey Logano must have been on his just a bit much as the right front exploded. One small part caused chaos that we’ll be talking about for a while. I bet they have bigger rotors in the fall.
1) Danica Patrick – No one will ever question that woman’s toughness. When she hits, she hits incredibly hard. Wonder Woman went off the reservation and deservedly so with Joey Logano. I bet she could have made a truck driver blush in that ambulance ride, or at the very least, a medic.
It was fast, it was wild, and it gave us plenty to talk about. Kansas Speedway is in the books until October. If this race is a precursor to what we should expect in the fall, that may be a race everyone should be tuned in to.
For this week, the best of the best take to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for our annual “second place really means nothing, All Star Race.”
We’ll see you back here next week for the Coke 600.