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NASCAR at Kansas: Picks and preview

NASCAR Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson is the driver to watch this week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.
Kyle_larson_(51383019233)

This Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for the Advent Health 400. This track is a 1.5-mile Tri-oval similar to what we see in Las Vegas. There is rain in the forecast this week for the race but, it should clear up in time before the race starts. Despite the unlikeliness of the race being delayed, it is important to note that the racetrack will be vastly different with the rubber being washed off, this could create a problem with grip. This race is usually rather clean as there has been an average of about three to four cautions for incidents (not counting the stage breaks), so it would suffice to say that there will be plenty of strategies to come into play this weekend.

Last weekend, Joey Logano went on to win at Darlington in quite a controversial fashion. With two laps to go, entering turn three, Logano booted William Byron from the lead. After the contact, Byron would hit the wall breaking the “Toelength” on the back of the racecar causing him to lose control and drop to a disappointing 13th place. Logano’s move was extremely unpopular and Byron was incensed after the race. During his post-race interview, Byron said “He’s just an idiot, he does this all the time. He doesn’t even try to pass you, he just runs over you.” Team Chairman Jeff Gordon weighed in as well “You have come to expect it from him, but he’s got a payback coming from Byron.” In response, Joey mentioned how Byron squeezed him into the wall on the last restart, so the move was in retaliation. Personally, the Bump and Run have been prevalent in the sport for many years. We have seen the greats like Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Busch make moves like this all the time. What made this so malicious was the way Logano didn’t even attempt to make a clean pass on Byron. For instance, take Ross Chastain and his move on AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman at COTA. While on merit, it was the same move that Logano made. Chastain had raced both drivers relatively clean until Allmendinger moved him out of the way earlier in the lap. It will be interesting to see if Byron ever repays the favor and where he will do it. This weekend at Kansas may not be the right place, but further down the line, I wouldn’t expect Logano will forget about Darlington.

It was another great result for Ricky Stenhouse Jr as he finished 8th, this is his second consecutive top ten finish. This team is continuing to prove themselves as possible playoff contenders despite their rough start to the season. It’s going to be an uphill battle for these guys, but I am liking what I have seen from this race team.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Larson. Larson has been flying under the radar since his win at Auto Club Speedway, but despite all that, he is still consistently in the top five each week. Last week was a bit of an outlier for Larson. To start the race, he was in the top three and battling with Kyle Busch until a spin in turn four would set the tone for the rest of the race. The spin would damage his motor and cause him to fall out of the race. If there is any track where he could turn it around though, it’s at Kansas. In the past four races here, he has led 29.8 percent of the laps ran and won here last fall. I look for Larson to capture his second win of 2022 come Sunday.

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Who's really calling the shots? Composite Getty Image.

Who is actually determining how much Jose Abreu is playing right now? Is it Joe Espada or is someone telling him from the top of the organization to play Abreu and not take him out of clutch moments?

Also, could Espada be sending a message to the front office by giving them a good look at how bad he is, and how much he's hurting the team with regular playing time?

ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham makes that case in the video above, but his radio partner Joel Blank isn't quite buying it.

Don't miss the video above for the full conversation!

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