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Statistically Speaking

Analyzing Kansas Speedway: No Country for Longshots

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: May 16, 2022, 3:36 pm ET

Four similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks were built in the mid-1990s through 2001 with Kansas Speedway the most recent. One of those tracks, Chicagoland Speedway, is not currently hosting a race. Kentucky Speedway hosted 10 races from 2011 through 2020 but Homestead-Miami Speedway reconfigured significantly in 2003 to become a closer comparative to the other "cookie-cutter" tracks,so it all balances.

As NASCAR rearranges their schedule, the 1.5-mile tracks have kept approximately the same race count – around nine to 10 – and that won’t change anytime soon. Along with the courses listed above, the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks are Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Drivers will tell you that each track is unique and, having never driven a race car, we are in no position to argue. On the other hand, we see things they sometimes miss because most of them are not digging too deeply into the stats. These tracks have a similarity in how they must be approached. It takes a total package of speed, teamwork, and communication to be successful on these tracks.

Drivers outside the top 25 in points do not typically run well.

One proof of the similarities between the so-called "cookie-cutter" courses is that seven drivers earned six or more top-10s in nine events on them. No one was perfect, but Kyle Busch came close by entering the last 1.5-mile race, the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, with a streak of 10 top-10s that extended to the end of 2020.

For a long while, only marquee teams were regularly competitive on this track type, but things began to change in recent seasons. One of the drivers with six top-10s on 1.5-milers was Tyler Reddick. Chris Buescher earned three such finishes while Matt DiBenedetto had two of those and three other results of 11th through 13th.

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Kansas has become one of the most popular of the 1.5-milers. Charlotte and Texas voluntarily swapped one of their oval dates for road courses. For a long while, Atlanta had only one race, but in 2021 NASCAR began to experiment with giving them two events once more. Las Vegas also hosts two races.

Kansas has hosted two races since 2011 and since then, streaks have become regular.

In 2021, five drivers swept the top 10 in Kansas' two races: Kevin Harvick swept the top five in the past two seasons, Chase Elliott had two top-fives last year and was sixth in fall 2020, Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth and seventh last year as part of a five-race, top-10 streak, William Byron also has a current five-race streak, while Austin Dillon finished 10th in both 2021 races and was 11th in 2020.

Kansas is not particularly kind to new drivers. Among active drivers, Cole Custer and Daniel Suarez earned sevenths in their first starts while Elliott and Tyler Reddick were ninth. Kurt Busch finished in the top-10 in his first attempt, but that was the first race on the track and Busch was a veteran at the time. No other driver has a top-10 in their inaugural attempt and the number of drivers with results outside the top 25 are much greater.

Among drivers with top-10s on this track, it took an average of three to four attempts to earn their first and some remarkable drivers like Joey Logano (nine) and Martin Truex Jr. (eight) took a long time to find the front quarter of the field. Once a driver figures this track out, they tend to clump their strong runs together.

While there may be some solid wagers to be made, don't expect the winner to come from the dark horse ranks. Kyle Busch won the spring race at +1100; Kyle Larson won in the fall at +225. Five of the remaining eight top-five finishers were listed at 10/1 or lower, which means only Matt DiBenedetto (+6000) and Kurt Busch (+4000) had odds long enough to drag their top-five line to an acceptable level.

2022 Races
May 15, AdventHealth 400
Power Rankings After Week 12
Cheat Sheet
Best Bets
Dark Horses
Weekend Update
Latest Lines

DFS Gems
IndyCar Pick 'Em

Power Rankings After Week 13

September 11, Hollywood Casino 400 (Round of 16, Race 2)

Active Winners
3: Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick
2: Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski
1: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott

Career Top-fives
12: Kevin Harvick
9: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin
8: Joey Logano
7: Brad Keselowski
6: Chase Elliott
5: Kurt Busch
4: Kyle Larson
3: Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones
2: Alex Bowman
1: William Byron

Current Streaks
Kevin Harvick: 4 top-5s; 5 top-10s; 12 lead lap finishes (and 22/23)
Martin Truex Jr.: 5 top-10s (and 9/10); 5 lead lap finishes (14/15)
William Byron: 5 top-10s; 5 lead lap finishes
Chase Elliott: 3 top-sixes; 9 lead lap finishes
Kyle Larson: 6 lead lap finishes
Denny Hamlin: 5 lead lap finishes
Chris Buescher: 3 lead lap finishes
Austin Dillon: 3 lead lap finishes
Joey Logano: 3 lead lap finishes
Kurt Busch: 2 lead lap finishes
Ross Chastain: 2 lead lap finishes
Daniel Suarez: 2 lead lap finishes

2021 Races
May 2, Drydene 400:
1. Kyle Busch (1100), 2. Kevin Harvick (1000), 3. Brad Keselowski (850), 4. Matt DiBenedetto (6000), 5. Chase Elliott (900)

October 24, Hollywood Casino 400:
1. Kyle Larson (225), 2. Chase Elliott (850), 3. Kevin Harvick (1800), 4. Kurt Busch (4000), 5. Denny Hamlin (675)

Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks: Kansas, Homestead, Las Vegas Motor Speedway [https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/edge/article/statistically-speaking/las-vegas-motor-speedway], Atlanta Motor Speedway [https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/edge/article/statistically-speaking/analyzing-atlanta-motor-speedway], Charlotte, Texas.

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Atlanta Motor Speedway
Auto Club Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt)
Daytona International Speedway
Dover International Speedway
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Martinsville Speedway
Phoenix Raceway
Richmond Raceway
Talladega Superspeedway

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.