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Podium Preview: AdventHealth 400 at Kansas

Christopher Bell hopes to convert his pole into a win at Kansas. (Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – MAY 14: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 14, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. Christopher Bell hopes to convert his pole into a win at Kansas. (Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images)

As the first half of the regular season comes to an end, Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway offers plentiful wild card factors with the NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams.

Although the races at Kansas belonged to the Kyles (Busch in May and Larson last October), the winds at this 1.5-mile paved speedway can be tricky for the best to combat. Moreover, 267 laps isn’t exactly a breeze at this 21-year-old venue.

Along the same lines, the AdventHealth 400 is the final Cup race before a sojourn to Texas Motor Speedway for the annual NASCAR All-Star Race weekend. Essentially, business is put to the side after Sunday’s race but it also means the long, hot summer waits for the premier division’s top competitors like Busch, Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Ross Chastain.

This weekend, Ashley HobbsCody ShoppeJasmine SharpeKobe Lambeth, Luis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorNathan SolomonTaylor Kitchen and yours truly ponder about the Joey Logano and William Byron kerfuffle, the possibilities for top 10 finishes for Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and NASCAR’s efforts with appealing to the ages 18-49 demographic.

Podium Preview: AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway
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Question 1
I regret nothing! (Photo: Emilee Chinn | Getty Images)

I regret nothing! (Photo: Emilee Chinn | Getty Images)

Given the aggressive, late race moves we’ve seen this year, what’s your thoughts on the Joey Logano and William Byron moment last Sunday at Darlington? 

Solomon : I like the move from Logano, which might be to the dismay of many. This playoff format is targeted on winning races, and Logano did what he needed to do to win the race. Logano was on a 40-race winless streak and made sure he snapped it at Darlington. I understand why people don’t like the move since he didn’t make much of an effort to pass Byron, but Logano snagged a much-needed victory and punched his ticket to the playoffs.

Tiongson :  While I said that this is the newer, edgier NASCAR for this week’s episode of The Podium Finish Live! podcast, we have to consider the circumstances on Sunday in comparison with other, similar results. The bump and run is not new to NASCAR. It’s a case of seeing a driver who’s becoming a fan favorite versus a driver who may not be beloved in the eyes of some fans.

I can understand Byron’s frustration but I also realize Logano was going for the win. Yes, he could’ve passed him cleanly. But drivers have solid memories and they’re not afraid to even the score, whether immediately or in the future. Logano’s move was celebrated when Ross Chastain essentially did the same thing at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Fans enjoyed when Jeff Gordon won two races at Bristol with the bump and run.

It’s amplified more because of Logano’s involvement and Byron going from a possible victory to a 13th place result. It’s difficult to lose a race in such a bitter way but this is the way things are in the Playoffs era of NASCAR.

Lambeth : Well, if Joey Logano can sleep at night with a clear conscience, I guess he made the decision he felt was best to help him win. However, he shouldn’t get mad if/when William Byron gets revenge in the future. After looking at the contact that upset Logano, it seemed like Byron barely put him in the wall. So, I’m not sure if pushing Byron out of the lead with two laps remaining was totally justified.

I think the No. 22 Ford was quick enough to pass the No. 24 Chevrolet cleanly if he wanted to. Moving forward, all eyes will be on Logano and Byron as everyone waits to see if retaliation is on the menu.

Kitchen : Personally, I am not a fan of Joey Logano’s bump-and-run pass to capture the Goodyear 400 win. 

It was clear that William Byron’s car was way too loose in the final few laps and the No. 22 could have passed Byron clean with two laps to go. 

Unfortunately, instead of relying on talent, Logano decided he must wreck Byron to secure a victory. 

In Logano’s defense, he did say his move was justified by an earlier on-track incident with the No. 24. Upon reviewing that move, I do think Logano’s retaliation was warranted. However, I think any bump-and-run for the win should be on the final lap.

Question 2
Can Michael McDowell continue his frontrunner ways? (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Can Michael McDowell continue his frontrunner ways? (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have been impressive in recent races. Will both drivers continue their solid top 10 streaks at Kansas?

Shoppe :  I don’t anticipate the attrition needed for these guys to keep up their top ten streak. Stenhouse has to come from behind after his practice crash and McDowell struggled in the other mile and a half in Vegas among other places. I expect to see some surprises Sunday but not them.

Sisoler :  They have had great runs as of late, but I don’t know if they can manage it. If there’s some of the same attrition we have seen in the past few weeks, then maybe one could do it, but Kansas isn’t usually a high attrition track and both drivers did not have great runs at Las Vegas, another 1.5 mile track, so don’t expect both McDriver and Stenhouse to crack the top 10.

Raynor :  I do not see Michael McDowell or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. continuing their top 10 steak unless we see other drivers crashing out. Kanas is a lot like Las Vegas and both were out of the top 10. They struggled with the cars.

I am sure both teams have learned since the Las Vegas race and how these new cars handle better, but not enough to put them in the top 10. 

Torres :  Barring any attrition, Kansas is going to be real tough for both racers getting a top-10 run. Luck is granted in NASCAR which is better to have than sour grapes, but I see things going back to familiar levels. When you think about it, the last few races are unique tracks that’ll have its wild moments. I don’t think we’ll have that in Kansas, but time will tell.

Question 3
Can NASCAR's at home approach still resonate with younger audiences? (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Can NASCAR’s at home approach still resonate with younger audiences? (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Given F1’s great ratings head to head with its race in Miami Gardens against the Cup race at Darlington, should NASCAR work on trying to appeal to the 18-49 demographic with its telecasts airing on FOX, FS1, NBC and USA?

Sharpe :  For as great NASCAR is as a motorsport, it hasn’t exactly had the greatest reputation in recent years of snagging in younger audiences. I’m going to agree with Hobbs on this, there’s just too many inconsistencies with rules, penalties, and the playoff system.

Growing up, the reason I fell in love with the sport wasn’t just because of what was taking place on the track, but also off the track. Drivers branched out on TV with catchy commercials, TV show appearances, and just seemed more willing to reach out to their fans overall. There are those in the current day who try their best with platforms such as Twitch, TikTok, and Instagram, but the mass majority just don’t reach out like they used to.

F1 does so much with their drivers on and off the track with media related interactions that those watching are able to see their favorite racers personalities and feel closer to them. Team Penske used to do the “Penske Games” with their drivers across all series, but that has since stopped. If sponsor companies would only get more involved with the teams they were sponsoring. Four Loko did a great job with that earlier this year featuring Moonhead and the No. 44 Xfinity team, via their Youtube.

Hobbs :  NASCAR has been trying to get the younger demographic for a while now. Remember that they brought on Monster Energy to really push getting the younger crowd? Well, that fell flat. It is difficult for any organization to appeal to everyone. NASCAR has always, and likely still does, lean towards the older demographic. It does not help NASCAR’s case that they are always changing rules every year, trying to get creative within the sport (playoffs, dirt racing, etc.), inconsistent rules and penalties; it just makes it difficult for potential newcomers to get attached to the sport.

There are many things the broadcasts could do, and fans have been calling it out for years now; yet, nothing has really changed. For me, the broadcasts are too uptight and formal. NASCAR is not a suit-and-tie sport and it makes it feel disconnected. I am happy we have Clint Bowyer in the FOX booth as he certainly brings a fun, bouncy energy. However, the changes really need to happen at the NASCAR level first before we can look at the broadcasts for change.

Three laps around Kansas’ distinct grooves means we know what time it is! Now, it’s time to reflect on our most recent race and points reports from last Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington!
The Machine had a great race weekend at Darlington.

The Machine had a great race weekend at Darlington.

In the meantime, Nathan Solomon continues his points leading ways.

In the meantime, Nathan Solomon continues his points leading ways.

Next, Ashley Hobbs considers the numbers for Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas!
First, let's consider how your favorite teams fare in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas.

First, let’s consider how your favorite teams fare in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas.

The AdventHealth 400 race winner has an average starting spot of 8.6, leads an average of 51.3 laps, starts within the top five 45.45% of the time and starts within the top 10 72.73% of the time since 2011.

The AdventHealth 400 race winner has an average starting spot of 8.6, leads an average of 51.3 laps, starts within the top five 45.45% of the time and starts within the top 10 72.73% of the time since 2011.

Chase Elliott seems to like Kansas.

Chase Elliott seems to like Kansas.

Now, let's consider the trends in the past 10 editions of the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas since 2012.

Now, let’s consider the trends in the past 10 editions of the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas since 2012.

Here's the trends in the past five runnings of the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas since 2017.

Here’s the trends in the past five runnings of the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas since 2017.

Another Elliott win?

Another Elliott win?

Here’s the top 10 starters for Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas!
Row 1
Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Row 2
Kyle Larson and Austin Cindric (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Larson and Austin Cindric (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Row 3
Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Row 4
Aric Almirola and Alex Bowman (Photo: Luis Torres and Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Aric Almirola and Alex Bowman (Photo: Luis Torres and Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Row 5
Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney (Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

Without further ado, here’s our picks for Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas!
It's a pretty formidable set of race picks. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images except for C. Bell - Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

It’s a pretty formidable set of race picks. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images except for C. Bell – Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Tiongson : While folks will likely go with Kyle Larson, I’m going to choose a driver who’s having a breakthrough season after 12 races. Ross Chastain‘s won at a road course and superspeedway in the past two months. My gut feeling tells me Chastain’s ready to win an intermediate track race and remind folks he is “The Watermelon Man,” not “Ross the Boss.”

Torres : Kansas feels like a quiet wild card race in terms of race picks. This one I had a hard time choosing who’ll be victorious, but I like my chances with Alex Bowman. He’s had some flashes of brilliance and it’s astonishing he’s yet to win there. That’ll change this weekend with a key victory that’ll further secure his playoff aspirations with his second win of 2022.

Lambeth : After two races on 1.5-mile tracks so far, Hendrick Motorsports won both at Las Vegas and Atlanta. The HMS Chevrolets should be the favorites entering the race at Kansas. I think we’ll see Alex Bowman get his second win of the 2022 season and I don’t think he’ll “back into” this one!

TPF Stats : No matter which way The Machine examines things, Chase Elliott comes out on top each time. While The Machine has predicted four wins already for Elliott this season, since Elliott got it done two weeks ago, the season win monkey is off his back and the wins will start flying!

Hobbs : Still searching for victory, Kansas Speedway is a great place for Kevin Harvick to make this happen! He is the best driver at this track and maybe, just maybe, that is what he needs to crack victory.

Raynor : Christopher Bell has been fast and good at these types of tracks.

Shoppe : Kyle Busch has had decent speed lately and has wins at Kansas. But more importantly, I haven’t picked him as much this year so let’s go with KFB!

Kitchen : With one victory already in the bank, I think Kyle Busch will join the multi-win category this season at the AdventHealth 400.
Not only did he qualify well (P6), he also proved his Camry had great speed in practice as it was the second fastest car on the track.

Solomon : Kyle Busch is riding momentum both on and off the track. In addition to a strong stretch of races, Busch welcomed his second child, Lennix, this week. He won this race last year, so expect Busch to snag a victory on Sunday.

Sharpe : After watching the practice and qualifying sessions, Martin Truex Jr. was able to adapt and compete the best to changes the track was going through. Though his teammate, Christopher Bell snagged the pole, he just doesn’t stay out front the entire race like he needs to.

Sisoler : He has been so close to getting that elusive first Cup Series win for RCR this year, including the heartbreaker at dirt Bristol and then second last week at Darlington. He rolls off outside of pole sitter Christopher Bell on Sunday, and I think that this will be the race where Tyler Reddick breaks through.

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into the 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! While we progress toward a new kind of normal, please do your part to curb the impacts of the pandemic by washing your hands and getting your COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

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.

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $30 or more, use coupon code TPF2022 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now!

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 Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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