Kansas Speedway Year in Review
With 2009 just around the corner, let's look back over the past year at Kansas Speedway. While Kansas Speedway had a lot happening off the track in 2008, this story focuses on great moments in racing.
In April, Kansas Speedway, in conjunction with the Kansas Lottery, held "Free Day at Kansas Speedway" for the ARCA RE/MAX Series Kansas Lottery $150 Grand. Several thousand fans saw former Formula One driver Scott Speed head to Victory Lane with his first stock car victory. In 2009, Speed will visit Kansas Speedway as a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 provides exciting action on the track, as the tough truck drivers treat every lap like it's the last one. Ron Hornaday Jr. captured the checkered flag, his first win at Kansas Speedway.
As the race before the Indianapolis 500 and with Danica Patrick winning the week before in Japan, the excitement around the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 was as high as it's ever been. With the crowd hoping to see Patrick capture her second race victory, 2008 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon spent most of the afternoon in the lead. His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Dan Wheldon, took advantage of Dixon's late pit stop to steal the win. This is Wheldon's second consecutive trip to Victory Lane at Kansas. He is the only repeat winner in the IndyCar Series and one of only three drivers to win more than once at Kansas Speedway.
In September, the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 had a lot of NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars take the green flag, including Missouri native Carl Edwards and Kansas native Clint Bowyer. While the crowd may have wanted to see Edwards or Bowyer take home the win, Denny Hamlin won his first race at Kansas Speedway.
The racing season had an exciting finish with Edwards' "bonsai" move at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 400. Edwards scraped the wall in the last half lap at an attempt to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. Unfortunately, the move didn't work and eventual three-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson took home the checkered flag. According to Edwards, the "wall slowed him down more than he thought it would."
As the late November snow tries to hang on in the Kansas plains and forecasts are calling for more snow, thoughts are already squarely focused on 2009 and Kansas Speedway's ninth season of racing.
Some questions that will be answered over the course of the next season:
- Will the trend continue in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kansas Speedway with no repeat winners?
- Three truck series drivers have won their first race at Kansas Speedway; will 2009 bring another first-time winner?
- Will IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon become the first driver to win three straight races at Kansas Speedway?
- Or will Dario Franchitti, who is returning to the series with Chip Ganassi Racing, break through and visit Victory Lane after finishing second in 2007?
- Will Cup series drivers continue to dominate the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300?
- Can one of the Cup drivers competing in both the Kansas Lottery 300 and Kansas 400 pull off the feat of winning both races, a la Joe Nemechek in 2004?
- Can local drivers Edwards or Bowyer breakthrough for their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in front of their hometown crowds at Kansas Speedway?
- Will another non-Chase driver visit Victory Lane (which has happened two of the last three years)?
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