NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR: SpongeBob SquarePants 400 preview in 3 minutes

Everything you need to know about Saturday night’s Spongebob SquarePants 400, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. Kevin Harvick has finished first or second in the last six Sprint Cup races held on 1.5-mile tracks, similar to Kansas Speedway.

2. Jeff Gordon punched his ticket to the Chase with a victory in this race last spring. He enters Saturday night’s race looking for a repeat performance.

3. Few have seen as fast a rise in NASCAR as Erik Jones, who makes his first Cup series start this weekend, subbing for the injured Kyle Busch.

Observations

▪  Clint Bowyer showed significant speed in Friday’s Cup series practice session, which is a vast improvement for the Michael Waltrip Racing driver. Joe Gibbs Racing’s four teams also appeared to have improved on speed. Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said last month that the months of May and June and its races on intermediate tracks would go a long way in determining how strong Toyota teams will be this season. So far, so good.

▪  Saturday night’s race at Kansas is the last opportunity for a not-yet-eligible driver to gain admission to next weekend’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race through a race victory. Otherwise, drivers will have to win one of the two segments of the Sprint Showdown or receive the fan vote to compete for the $1 million top prize.

▪  Three drivers consider Kansas Speedway their “home track” but none of the three has won a Cup race at the facility. They are Clint Bowyer from Emporia, Kan.; Jamie McMurray from Joplin, Mo.; and Carl Edwards from Columbia, Mo.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Kevin Harvick: Harvick’s last three starts at Kansas: first, first and first. His last three finishes: 12th, second and first. That’s pretty stout.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He’s fresh off his first victory of the season and led 45 laps here in the fall before blowing a tire.

Martin Truex Jr.: As rough a season as he had last year, Martin Truex Jr. still finished fourth at Kansas last fall and he’s currently second in the series standings.

He said it

“There’s a lot of ways to win, so it’s not always guaranteed that you have to have the fastest car.” – Jeff Gordon

Notes

Logano starts from the pole: Joey Logano saved his best lap for the last round of qualifying as he held off Kasey Kahne to win the pole for Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The pole is Logano’s fourth of the season and 12th of his career. It’s also his first at Kansas.

Logano average lap speed of 192.397 mph in the third round of group qualifying easily topped Kahne (191.911 mph).

Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, will start third, Martin Truex Jr. fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.

Erik Jones, making his first Cup series start filling in for the injured Kyle Busch, will line up 12th in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota. Jones was fastest in the second of Friday’s two practice sessions.

Race shop suffers fire damage: According to a statement from Leavine Family Racing, an early morning fire in its race shop in Concord on Friday did “significant damage” to the back area of the shop where several of its Sprint Cup Series cars were located.

Four cars – all back-up cars – were destroyed in the fire, team officials said. The fire was reported at around 7 a.m. Friday and was brought under control by 8:30 a.m.

“Luckily no one was injured,” said a statement provided by a team spokesperson. “We are working with the fire department and local officials to determine what happened.”

N@SCAR

Getting there

Race facts

SpongeBob SquarePants 400

Where: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.

Track type: 1.5-mile banked, paved oval

Race distance: 267 laps or 400.5 miles

Green flag: 7:46 p.m.

Weather: High in the upper 70s with an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms.

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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