Motorsport News

Gimme More (Kansas)

2024 Kansas 1 Cup Kyle Larson Chris Buescher Finish Logan Riely Getty Images

1. Let This Sink In: Kansas Is Now the Crown Jewel of NASCAR Tracks

Once upon a time, Kansas Speedway was just another intermediate track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Perfectly fine and occasionally capable of putting on a fun show, but not something that stood out from other mile-and-a-half circuits in any appreciable way.

A few years ago, no one in their right mind would have suggested that for pure racing action, Kansas would be elbowing iconic venues like Daytona International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway or Darlington Raceway out of the way on its journey to the top of the must-see list. Yet with the current Cup car and rules in place, there can be little doubt now that the racing at Kansas is second to none.

At the risk of invoking the recency bias gods, and with full admission that the facets of a great race lie in the eye of the beholder, let’s tick off what made the 2024 AdventHealth 400 so compelling.

First and foremost, the faster cars could run down and actually pass the leader. It seems so simple but has been maddeningly uncommon in the Next Gen era. Once passed, the previous leader could and sometimes did fight back. There was a preferred racing line that moved up as darkness fell, but the top cars could and did move around to pass.

The performance of pit crews played a role in how a team’s day went (just ask Denny Hamlin), but it wasn’t the most important factor. Fuel strategy came into play in interesting and logical ways instead of just forcing everyone to drive slower for a while.

Restarts were entertaining, but not mass chaos. And while drivers were punished for making mistakes, they didn’t end up taking half the field with them when they spun or ran someone else into the wall.

That closest finish ever? Just icing on an already delicious cake, as it turned out.

While everyone who loves NASCAR should hope that things improve on short tracks and superspeedways, we need to appreciate what is working as well. Kansas, you’re as good as it gets right now and we salute you.

2. How Can NASCAR Get More Kansas-Like Content on the Schedule?

Now that we all agree that Kansas is awesome, the natural reflex is to ask how NASCAR can create more of it. Since it’s unlikely that giving the actual Kansas will be given a third date or anyone will build a track like it somewhere (though I’d do it, if someone randomly gave me hundreds of millions of dollars), we have to explore some more…

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