NASCAR will make their annual trip to the Great Plains for Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at the Kansas Speedway. This is a race that has often come down to fuel mileage, but has also produced some excellent finishes.
This edition of Dustin Off will look ahead to Sunday's festivities, but I'm also going to address some of the incidents that happened last weekend.
After the race at Dover, both Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin's cars were taken to NASCAR's R & D Center for analysis. Afterwards, officials did not that the cars both drivers raced were legal, however were pushing the line. Now, owner Rick Hendrick has been told to not bring either car back to the track.
It's not the first time that Hendrick has heard this statement. It was back in 1997 when Jeff Gordon brought a car to the All-Star race that also was within limits, but banned from returning.
However, the Hendrick team learned a lot from that car that they applied to future cars in their stable. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens with the No. 5 and 48 teams.
Despite the very strict rules on this car, both teams gained some knowledge that they could share with the No. 24 and 88 crews. I expect the entire Hendrick organization to be a better running group, despite the fact that those two cars won't be back racing.
Now, onto Sunday's race. Kansas to me is a cross between Michigan and Charlotte. The track is the same distance as Charlotte, 1.5 miles, but has long, sweeping corners. Those corners provide multiple grooves, and have yielded some great side-by-side racing.
Now, let me go to my favorites and some sleepers for Sunday's Price Chopper 400.
This guy just can't do no wrong. Martin wins the first Chase race, finishes runner up a week later, and now starts on the pole for Sunday.
If there is such a thing as karma in NASCAR, Martin is proof. After trying so hard to win a championship at Roush, coming close three different times, he opted to begin walking away.
It seemed almost as if his popularity grew more because he was not at the track as much. When he committed to drive full-time once again, and with Hendrick, his following increased even more.
As a former winner at Kansas, he will definitely be a contender for victory. Martin already has the best starting position, now he will look to finish there as well.
I've got to give praise to the home state hero. Bowyer has run well at Kansas and has put himself again near the front of the field, qualifying eighth.
As we all know, this year has been one to forget for the Richard Childress Racing organization. Even on Friday three of the four RCR teams had lack-luster qualifying runs. The one bright spot was Bowyer.
He loves running in front of his home crowd, as does any driver, so watch out for the No. 33 car to be a factor.
Now here's a driver who has Kansas figured out. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet won the first two races at Kansas in 2001 and 2002.
Despite that, I do not have Gordon as my immediate favorite this time around. The entire DuPont team has done an exceptional job this year getting back the momentum they had in 2007.
Even though they have just one win, they have been running a lot better and with more passion. Now that they are in the Chase, although a bit back in the standings, look for them to turn up the heat with just eight races remaining.
It was a bold move that went for not last season when Edwards made the pass on Johnson for the lead on the last lap.
The dive inside of Johnson in turn 3 was excellent and Edwards had a great run through the corner. Unfortunately, he swept up into the marbles and brushed the wall, giving the lead and the win to Johnson.
That defeat must still be on the mind of Edwards heading into this weekend. The good news is that Edwards says this will be his last weekend using his crutches for his broken foot.
Do not expect him to use that as a reason to lay back and just stay content. Edwards nearly won this race last year, and he just may surprise everyone come Sunday.
When the race was shortened back in 2007, this is the guy who took the victory.
Sure, there was a lot of debate whether he truly won. As we remember, Biffle was coasting on the apron while some of the other leaders passed him on the track. But, the field was already frozen, giving Biffle the win.
Biffle used a lot of strategy to get to the front, and it could come down to that again Sunday. This team deserves a win, and maybe this is their weekend.
The third race in the Chase will go green at 1 p.m. Coverage once again will be on ABC.