After the penalty that came down on Cunningham Motorsports this past week, Patrick Sheltra holds the points lead just by a mere 15 points with two races remaining.
Despite that, Sheltra chose not to test the No. 60 Ferguson Pipe/Jones Group International Toyota in the open-test last week. With the win earlier this year at Chicagoland Speedway, a similar 1.5.-mile oval, Sheltra feels confident.
"I'm feeling really good about Kansas Speedway next week," Sheltra said on ARCARacing.com. "Even though we elected not to test, we're still feeling very confident about our race car. We are taking the same chassis that we won with in August at Chicagoland, so I feel our chances are as good as anyone else's.
"While our mission is to win, the championship is our majority focus. Our mindset is to keep racing the way we have been the past month or so. Hopefully, it will be enough to secure the championship at Rockingham."
In three starts at Kansas, Sheltra has had one top-10 finish with an average finish of 10.3.
Vowing for the championship directly behind Sheltra is Tom Hessert and Craig Goess.
Following Salem, Hessert led the standings by 10 points over Sheltra; however, the lead was erased after failing post-race inspection. Hessert has been the one to beat on the short tracks this year, yet enters Kansas with two recent top 10 speedway finishes.
"Kansas Speedway is a really neat mile-and-a-half race track,” Hessert said. “It's very smooth, very fast. It's a similar configuration to Chicagoland Speedway, where we ran well last time out and finished seventh.
"The car we are taking for the race is the car that won Iowa. It is also the car that I ran at Pocono and Michigan. Our goal for the last two races is to simply maximize points, by qualifying well, leading the most laps, and winning the remaining races. Everyone on the team has been doing their jobs well and I don't expect that to change as we come to the final races of the season."
In two previous starts at Kansas, Hessert has no top-10 finishes with an average finish of 13.5.
Meanwhile, Goess sits 20 points behind Sheltra, looking to steal the show as he’s also ran good on the speedways this year.
He and Justin Marks are the only two drivers with six top-10 speedway finishes in 2010 and including a win at Pocono Raceway in June, Goess has finished sixth or higher in each of the last six speedway races.
"I like the bigger tracks,” Goess said. “Kansas Speedway is an amazing facility. We're lucky to get to race there with some of the other series that go there. Our intermediate package has been really good, so it's kind of like the Chicago race. We ran well there, and we ran well at Michigan and Pocono. We should do really well when we go (to Kansas)."
Behind Sheltra, Hessert and Goess sits veteran Frank Kimmel, 155 points behind Sheltra.
Kimmel is the only driver who has multiple wins (two) and multiple poles (two) at Kansas Speedway with an average finish of 5.7.
"Kansas is one of your typical mile-and-a-half race tracks,” he said. “We call them ‘cookie cutters' but one of the things I always remember about Kansas is how nice it is. What a beautiful facility. They've welcomed us with open arms. Our cars have gotten a lot better on the mile-and-a-half tracks, so maybe we can get our win there.”
The race is the 19th of 20 this year, and activity begins with a two-hour practice at 9 a.m. Central (10 a.m. Eastern) Thursday, September 30. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell begins at 1 p.m. Central.
The 100-lap, 150-mile Kansas Lottery 150 airs live on SPEED at 4 p.m. Central (5 p.m. Eastern).
Live audio coverage and live timing and scoring of all events will be presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com.