The top five Chase drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this week—Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Kevin Harvick—talk the 1.5-mile tri-oval with 15-degree banking at Kansas Speedway.
The Price Chopper 400 Presented by Kraft Foods, race 3 in the 10-Race Chase to the Sprint Cup, commences this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN.
FYI WIRZ is the swift presentation of pertinent motorsports topics compiled, condensed, and often written by Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com. Quotes provided by NASCAR and Sprint Cup team media.
The drivers' thoughts about Kansas and the Chase follows:
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
“I feel like the bigger race tracks—the mile-and-a-halfs—oddly enough, seemed to be our strong suit throughout the year,” Hamlin said. “Going to Kansas, then the bigger tracks after that, I feel like those are the tracks we can perform at a much higher level.
“Hopefully, all of our focus that we've worked on for the bigger tracks will come to when we get to the track.”
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
“For a mile-and-a-half track, I think that Chicago and Kansas are similar,” Johnson said. “In years past, mile-and-a-half tracks have been our bread and butter. Kansas has a really cool transition in and off the corners where you can run a second and third lane. It is friendly and you can search around and try to find a line. The asphalt has aged pretty quickly there, too, which has allowed us to run multiple lanes and move around. So, in general, it is a track with options.”
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
“I think championships just kind of solidify how good you are throughout a year and how you’re able to beat the best of the best in the weekends that it matters the most—the bad weekends,” Busch said. “You can win all the races you can win throughout your career and stuff and be known for a guy that can go out there and win on a weekend, but to win over the whole year, that’s 36 races that you beat everybody else. To be known as a champion is what everybody wants to be known as in this sport.”
Kurt Busch (No. 2 Dodge)
“I don’t know what it is about Kansas,” Busch said. “It’s a flat mile-and-a-half that reminds me of Las Vegas when it was built and flat. It’s just a tough combination when you go to tracks just once a year. You feel like you play catch-up most of the weekend and if you unload fast, you’re tough to chase down.
“We need another strong run this weekend at Kansas to keep on the right track in our goal of winning the championship. We know that we’re up against a tough racetrack and we’ll give it our best effort.”
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevrolet)
“For us, I think we just have to keep doing the things that we did up until this point,” Harvick said. “We won a few races, had a lot of top-five and top-10 finishes. On the days where we really struggled, I felt like we, for the most part, made something out of those days.
“We'll see what happens. Whether we win or lose, I think everybody has done everything we can control. We'll just go race now."
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Your win at last year’s race at Kansas: “Darian [Grubb, crew chief] made a great call getting two [tires], and the guys had an awesome stop,” Stewart said. “We got that track position at the end, and we had the luxury of being able to pick the inside or outside lane on the restart, and I kind of debated back and forth which side I needed to be on. But I kind of struggled when I was stuck on the bottom on restarts. So, I took a gamble and went to the top and got enough of a lead. By the time we got to [turns] one and two, I was able to run my line.”
Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Ford)
“I’ve qualified well and led laps at Kansas, but I haven’t always been able to turn that into a good finish," Kahne said. “Every time we go back to Kansas, the racing improves. The groove has gotten to be so wide that you can pretty much pass wherever you want to. Any track where you’re able to search around for that line that makes your car work better is a lot more fun for the drivers.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
"We had a really good run there last year, and I know Lance and the guys are coming back with something similar,” Earnhardt said. “Kansas can be challenging to get the car to work at both ends, but it's a pretty simple racetrack, I enjoy running there."
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