NASCAR National Series News & Notes - Kansas

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: KC Masterpiece 400
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 12
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Alsco 300
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 26
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: 37 Kind Days 250
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Friday, May 11
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.2 miles (167 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 167)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Harvick Brings The Heat

For those wondering if the 2018 season's hottest driver, Kevin Harvick may be slowing down any time soon, the answer is a definitive "no" judging by his historical statistics. A week after claiming his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series-best fourth victory at Dover, Harvick arrives in Kansas for the KC Masterpiece 400 (Saturday, 8 p.m., FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with every reason to feel completely optimistic and confident.

Harvick's 10.0 average finishing position on the Kansas Speedway's 1.5-mile high banks is second only to Jimmie Johnson in the series, while he leads the loop data category of average running position (9.415 in races since 2005). He has two wins, three Busch Pole Awards and his top-five (seven) and Top-10 (13) efforts are also second only to Johnson.

The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford arrives as the hottest driver on the circuit courtesy of a hard-fought victory Sunday on the Dover Monster Mile. He has only one finish worse than fifth (a seventh at Bristol) since mid-March.

Harvick's recent work at Kansas includes five top 10s in the last six races and seven of the last nine - including two wins in that span. He was third in the 2017 spring race.

"It's been a fun place to go to. I feel like we should've won more races there than we have, but I think you can say that at a lot of places, and sometimes the circumstances dictate that," said Harvick, who will drive with Busch Light sponsorship on his No. 4 Ford this weekend.

"I'm confident our Busch Light Ford will be fast. Anything less than a win there is usually a disappointment."

Seven-Time's Record Resume

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson arrives in Kansas still looking for his first win of the 2018 season - and first in the last 34 races. But he has plenty of reason to feel good about his shot on the 1.5-miler.

Johnson leads all drivers in races since the advent of loop data (2005) with a 108.7 driver rating and is tops in the field at Kansas for fastest laps (566 to Kevin Harvick's 410 - his next closest competitor), quality passes (934, nearly 200 more than next closest driver - Kasey Kahne with 748) and percentage of laps in the top 15 (82.5 %). He is second to Harvick in average running position (9.786) and is second to Martin Truex Jr. in laps led (581). That means in every major statistical category Johnson is ranked either first or second.

Johnson has three wins at Kansas, the most recent coming in the spring of 2015 when he beat Harvick in an intense battle over the final laps. He holds a track record for domination leading 197 of the 272 laps en route to a win in 2011.

He finished ninth at Dover last week to collect his third top-10 finish in the last four weeks and continues to climb in the standings. He's ranked 12th now after being 20th only five races ago.

Truex Jr. Hoping To Be Back On Track

Martin Truex Jr. has to be looking forward to his trip to the Midwest. The Furniture Row Racing driver has won the last two races at Kansas, leading a substantial 195 laps in that time.

He won the Busch Pole for 2016 spring race and the 2017 fall race. And Truex' 713 laps out front is second in the series to Matt Kenseth's 774. In fact, Truex ranks among the top-three best efforts in three major loop data categories (races from 2005-2017) - also including fastest laps (third with 393) and driver rating (third at 100).

Truex finished fourth at Dover last weekend, snapping an uncharacteristically poor string of luck for the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. He had three finishes of 26th or worse in the four races leading into Dover and he's ranked a season-low ninth in the championship standings - and is ready to continue the rally.

"Our performance so far this season has been up and down a little bit," Truex said. "But speed-wise we've been there each and every week. We've had really fast cars and I feel like we're right there in speed where we were last year.

Kyle Busch Finding His Groove At Kansas

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Busch has three wins and a sizable 22-point advantage atop the Cup standings. But he's had mixed results at the Kansas track - and would like to get back to his winning ways this weekend.

For a champion driver with so much domination on his record, this track has been an unusual challenge for Busch, comparatively speaking. He isn't ranked among the top-five drivers in many of the primary statistical categories. At one point, he had three consecutive DNFs (2012-13 seasons). And he didn't score his first top-five there until October, 2014.

However, Busch boasts six top-10 finishes in his last six races at Kansas, winning this event two years ago.

"The last few races there, the track really has started to change and the groove is starting to spread out, and it makes me more comfortable when a track gets worn in,'' Busch said. "[Crew chief] Adam [Stevens] and the guys have been bringing really good racecars to the track every weekend and, when you have great cars and run up front, good things are going to happen."

Look Who's Back

Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth makes his Roush Fenway Racing season debut this week at a track he has found a bit of success. He has two wins - back-to-back in 2012-13 - his last year with Roush and his first after moving to Joe Gibbs Racing. His 11 top-10s are third among active drivers to Jimmie Johnson (17) and Kevin Harvick (13).

Only one time in six races from 2010-2013 did he finish lower than seventh place at Kansas. His 774 laps out front at Kansas is most among his competitors this week...and, in fact, are most all-time at Kansas. He's led 272 laps in just the last five races at the track. He has three top-three starts in the last four races there, including the fall 2016 Busch Pole position.

This will be the first start for Kenseth back at Roush, where he won Rookie of the Year in 2000 and the 2003 Monster Energy Series championship, his fourth full-time season at NASCAR's premier level.

He was replaced by Erik Jones at Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of last year and it was announced last month that he would split time with Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor Bayne in the famed No. 6 Ford the rest of the season.

"My hope is it goes smoothly on Friday and I get comfortable fast,'' Kenseth told NBC Sports. "I've been reading a lot of notes and looking at a lot of stuff, so I'm somewhat up to speed. As much as I can be without driving yet."

Optimism Springs For William Byron

Hendrick Motorsports rookie driver William Byron turned in another productive performance last week at Dover and moved up two positions in the season points standings (to 18th) heading into his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at Kansas. Although no driver has ever earned his first Cup win at the track, it's been a good place historically for the 20-year old North Carolinian

Byron scored his first NASCAR national series victory there, winning in only his fifth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in 2016. He finished fourth in his only NASCAR Xfinity Series start there last year.

Byron has run in the top-10 in nine of the first 11 Monster Energy Series races this season and run inside the top-five in eight of the last nine races. He's led laps in four races and his 31-lap total out front is more than teammates Jimmie Johnson (zero) and Chase Elliott (eight).

Byron holds the lead in the 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle with a 32-point edge over Darrell "Bubba" Wallace.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Highlights From The First 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series Races Of The Season

With some great action playing out on the tracks this season, and the series taking two weeks off to regroup before getting back to it at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26 at 1 p.m. ET (on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) here are some notable highlights from the first 10 events:

~ Different Winners Streak: The 2018 season has seen 10 different winners in the first 10 races of the season; which ties the 1987 season for the second-longest different winners streak to start a season in series history, behind only the 1988 season that saw 13 different winners to start the year. This season's winners include Tyler Reddick (Daytona), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas), Brad Keselowski (Phoenix), Joey Logano (California), Ryan Blaney (Texas), Ryan Preece (Bristol), Christopher Bell (Richmond), Spencer Gallagher (Talladega) and Justin Allgaier (Dover).

~ Sunoco Rookie Winners: Two of the race winners are Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders - Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick.

~ Top-Five Finishers: A total of 24 different drivers have finished in the top-five this season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, led by Elliott Sadler with eight top fives; followed by Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier with six each.

~ Top-10 Finishers: A total of 31 different drivers have finished in the top 10 this season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, led by Elliott Sadler with 10 top 10s; followed by Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and Tyler Reddick with seven each.

~ Laps Leaders Galore: Through the first the first 10 races of the season 35 different drivers have led at least one lap in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (most since 2013 - 38 different drivers through first 10 races).

o An average of 7.2 leaders a race this season - the most since 2013 (9.0). The 2007 season holds the series record for the most average number of leaders per race through the first 10 races at 9.5.

o Justin Allgaier leads the series this season with 276 laps led.

~ Sadler's Top 10 Streak: Elliott Sadler is on the second-longest top-10 finishes streak of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career with 11 consecutive top 10s dating back to the final race of last season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His career record for the most consecutive top-10 finishes is 16, he accomplished the feat in 2016.

~ Youth Movement Endures: Eight of the top 10 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship driver standings are in their twenties, and five are under the age of 25. The average age of the top 10 in the driver standings is 26.2 years-old.

Xfinity Contender Ross Chastain To Compete At Kansas With Premium Motorsports

Florida's favorite watermelon farmer and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ross Chastain will not be taking this weekend off like most of the series drivers, but instead has been called upon to pilot the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet in Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, the KC Masterpiece 400 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), with crew chief Pat Tryson.

The 25-year-old from Alva, Florida, is currently 13th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, on the bubble to make the Playoffs on points - just 11 markers behind Austin Cindric in the final postseason transfer spot (12th). In 10 starts this season, Chastain has driven the No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet to three top 10s and an average finish of 17.7.

This weekend's KC Masterpiece 400 will be the 11th start for Chastain in the Monster Energy Series this season; all for Premium Motorsports. (The lone race he missed was Daytona.)

His average finish this season is a 28.6. His best finish in the previous 10 starts came at Texas; where he finished 18th. It will be Chastain's Monster Energy Series track debut at Kansas on Sunday. Chastain has made three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Kansas, posting an average finish of 14.7.

NASCAR Xfinity Philadelphia Takeover: Quick Recap

With the series off this weekend, many of the most popular names in the NASCAR Xfinity Series took to the streets of Philadelphia, following a spectacular race at Dover International Speedway the previous Saturday, to promote the series to the local fans and media. The visit is the third consecutive year Comcast Xfinity and series drivers have brought NASCAR to the big city of Philadelphia. All the action took place on Tuesday, May 8, and the city saw a record 21 drivers across 12 teams in the Philadelphia market.

NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers participating included: Christopher Bell, Spencer Boyd, Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Joey Gase, Kaz Grala, Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, Shane Lee, Dylan Lupton, Ty Majeski, Vinnie Miller, Matt Mills, John-Hunter Nemechek, Ryan Reed, Garrett Smithley, Ryan Truex, and JJ Yeley.

The promotions and celebrations all started at the Comcast Center Front Plaza where Xfinity Series drivers and Pocono Raceway, Dover International Speedway, NASCAR and Comcast executives took part in interviews, photo opportunities, and an autograph session. Then midway through the day, City Representative Sheila Hess led the presentation of the Mayoral proclamation making the takeover official.

The drivers then made many stops throughout the city visiting with fans and media. Locations included:

- Comcast Center
- Pat's & Geno's
- Rocky Steps
- Franklin Institute
- One Liberty Observation Deck
- Reading Terminal Market
- Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants)

It was a full day of activities that culminated with the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers joining in on the pre-game activities with the Philadelphia Phillies including batting practice, throwing out the first pitch, and having fun with the Phillie Phanatic at the game that evening.

Six Organizations Have Captured The Checkered Flag In 2018

A total of six organizations competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series have visited Victory Lane this season, led by Team Penske with three victories; followed by Joe Gibbs Racing and JR Motorsports with two each and Biagi-DenBeste Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing and GMS Racing with one each.

Six different organizations winning in the first 10 races ties last season for the most since 2006, when eight different organizations won in the first 10 races - 2006 winning organizations included Richard Childress Racing (three wins), Roush Fenway Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kevin Harvick Inc., Evernham Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske and Dale Earnhardt Inc. (each had one win).

JR Motorsports currently leads the NASCAR Xfinity Series owner standings with the No. 1 Chevrolet team just 10 points ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Toyota team in second-place and 13 points ahead of Team Penske's No. 22 Ford team in third. Team Penske won the race at Charlotte last season with driver Ryan Blaney in the No. 12 Ford.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Let's Go Night Racing

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back again this weekend at Kansas Speedway for the 37 Kind Days 250 on Friday, May 11 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Last weekend at Dover International Speedway, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to the track after a month-long hiatus. Johnny Sauter was victorious at the Monster Mile, leading 137 laps and winning his second race of the 2018 season. His first win was at Daytona.

It was also Sauter's second win in a row at Dover after he won last year in the No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet, having led the last 33 laps of the race.

This year marks Sauter's 15th year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and at the finish of last season, he had the most season wins of his career with four. This season, he has already taken home two victories with a lot of racing left (18 races, to be exact).

Sauter only had one finish outside of the top three this season - Martinsville, where he finished 19th.

Sauter is currently leading the driver standings with 238 points; followed by Ben Rhodes in the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford with 187 points, and Noah Gragson placing third in the standings in the No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota with 180 points.

Taking a Look Back at Kansas

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Kansas Speedway have seen some trends in recent years, including the winning manufacturer for the last five years.

From 2013 to 2017, a Toyota has been the victorious manufacturer at the 1.5-mile track at Kansas Speedway, a record for the track.

Will a Toyota win again and make that six years in a row?

Quite possibly, as Kyle Busch will be returning to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kansas where he won the race last year and in 2014.

Busch hasn't raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series since Las Vegas on March 2, when he won.

Profile: Mike Hillman Jr.

Mike Hillman Jr. will be back in the pit box on Friday, May 11 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway. This time, he'll be working with Brandon Jones in the No. 51 Lyons Bathtub & Showers Toyota.

So far, in 2018, Hillman Jr. has been the voice in the ear of three different drivers.

He was crew chief for Spencer Davis in the No. 51 Toyota the opening two races. At the start of the season, the duo started eighth at Daytona International Speedway and finished seventh. In Atlanta, they started fourth and finished 13th.

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hillman Jr. took the reigns for Kyle Busch in the No. 51 Cessna/Beechcraft Toyota where they started in the pole position and walked away with the victory.

At Martinsville, Harrison Burton worked with Hillman Jr. in the No. 51 DEX Imaging Toyota, where they started 13th and finished the race in the eighth spot. This was Burton's second career top-five finish.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to action at Dover International Speedway for the Monster Mile after a four-week long hiatus last weekend. Hillman Jr. was back with Burton where they finished fifth after starting in the 17th position.

Jones has yet to compete in the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, as he's racing a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule, so this Friday at Kansas Speedway will be his first of the season. Jones has visited Kansas once before in 2015 where he started in the third position but ended up finishing 30th due to a crash.

This is Hillman Jr.'s 12th year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He has a total of 259 races under his belt, 21 wins, 101 top-fives, 146 top-tens and 19 poles. He has been crew chief for 19 different drivers and in 2018, has worked with three separate drivers for the first time -Busch, Davis and Jones. (He paired up with Burton for a race in 2017.)

This season's win in Las Vegas was Hillman Jr.'s first win since 2013 with Jeb Burton at Texas.

Hillman Jr. has one win at Kansas Speedway, five top-fives and eight top-tens. His win was in 2005 with Todd in Hillman Jr.'s first truck series visit to the track.

Kansas Speedway by the Numbers

Here's a quick look at some numbers associated with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kansas:

2 - Two times a driver started at the pole and won the race.
3 - Three times the race winner has started 10th - and that's the lowest a race winner has started.
4 - Four times a Ford won the race.
6 - Six times a Chevrolet won the race.
7 - Seven times a Toyota won the race.
8 - Matt Crafton has finished in the top-ten eight times at Kansas, leading all drivers.
5.7 - Average starting position of the race winner at Dover.
15 - 15 different drivers have won at Kansas Speedway since 2001.
17 - There have been 17 NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series race at Kansas Speedway.
2001 - The first truck series race at Kansas was run in 2001 and was won by Ricky Hendrick.

Kansas Speedway Quick Facts

With the KC Masterpiece 400 and 37 Kind Days 250 quickly approaching, here are some quick facts you should know about Kansas Speedway.

Length: 1.5 miles
Race Length: 250.5 miles (167 laps)
Track Surface: Asphalt
Turns: Four
Degree of Banking in Corners: 17-20 degrees
Degree of Banking on Straights: Frontstretch - 10 degrees; Backstretch - 5 degrees
Length of Frontstretch: 2,685 feet
Length of Backstretch: 2,207 feet
Races: 17
Pole Winners: 13
Youngest Pole Winner: Erik Jones (05/08/2015 - 18 years. 10 months, 8 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr (05/02/2010 - 51 years, 10 months, 12 days)
Race Winners: 15
Youngest Winner: William Byron (05/06/2016 - 18 years, 5 months, 7 days)
Oldest Winner: Mike Skinner (04/27/2009 - 51 years, 9 months, 30 days)

NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series, Etc.

Busch Is Back: Kyle Busch is returning to action at Kansas Speedway this weekend for the 37 Kind Days 250 on Friday, May 11 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch has participated in two races of the five so far for the NASCAR Camping World Series 2018 season, where he took home the victory at Las Vegas. In both races, he started at the pole position. He will be racing in the No. 4 Cessna Toyota this weekend. Busch has raced four times at the track and won twice. He is tied with Matt Crafton for the most wins at the track in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

John Hunter Nemechek Looks For Win At Kansas: John Hunter Nemechek has never won a race at Kansas Speedway, but is hoping that the race this weekend might change that. In the No. 8 Fleetwing/D.A.B. Construction Chevrolet, Nemechek will check back in to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Nemechek has been to this track twice, the first time in 2016 where he started sixth but finished in 28th in the No. 8 Andy's Frozen Custard Chevrolet. Last year, he started 14th but finished in the third position in the No. 8 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet. In both of those races, Nemechek's highest position was second at one point but he has not yet been able to pull off a win. This could be a challenging track for Nemechek as he has been racing in the NASCAR World Camping Truck Series for 6 years, participated in 79 races and only been to Kansas Speedway twice. So far this season, he has raced in three of the five races, winning at Martinsville.

Brandon Jones Is Hoping For His First Win: Brandon Jones has visited Kansas Speedway once before, in 2015, but he didn't exactly get the finish he hoped for. Jones started in the third position but finished in 30th because of a crash in turn two. Jones, however, hasn't been in a truck yet this year. This will be his first of the season but luckily for him, this isn't the first race of the season for his crew chief Mike Hillman Jr.

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