The wait is over, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series will return to Kansas Speedway to battle under the lights for the second annual spring night races this weekend.
There is a lot of buzz and excitement around the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 race weekend, but just what are the drivers saying?
“Gotta hand it to the folks who remodeled Kansas Speedway into what it is today,” NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted after the Hollywood Casino 400 last fall. “Quickly rising up on my list of favorite tracks.”
Earnhardt’s best finish in Kansas came in the spring of 2011 when he finished second to Brad Keselowski.
Danica Patrick finished seventh in the inaugural night race at Kansas Speedway last May. After recently breaking Janet Guthrie’s record for most top-10 finishes by a female driver in NASCAR’s highest series, she will be looking to build on her record breaking season with a strong finish in Kansas.
“I’ve always liked going to Kansas,” said Patrick, “It’s a nice facility and I’ve got a lot of experience there. We had a great run there last spring and hopefully we can do the same this year.”
Martin Truex Jr has enjoyed a lot of success at Kansas Speedway, finishing in the top five four times in his last six starts including two second place finishes in the spring and fall races of 2012.
“I think Kansas at night is fun, there is just something about the way it feels,” said Truex. “It will be exciting and fun, Kansas has put on some great races over the years and is a track that I’ve had some success at. There’s just something special about night racing.”
Drivers are excited for NASCAR’s return to Kansas for the exciting racing, but with a unique sponsor like SpongeBob SquarePants, the race weekend is sure to be unforgettable.
“It’s really fun to be part of the Nickelodeon lineup for the Kansas race and get to feature Patrick Star and Cheez-It on our No. 16 Ford,” said Greg Biffle, a two-time Kansas winner. “Nickelodeon does a lot to bring sports to kids, which is something that is important and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Ben Kennedy will race Friday night in the Toyota Tundra 250 and will represent the weekend sponsor with a SpongeBob-themed truck.
“I’m pumped we’ve got SpongeBob on the hood,” said Kennedy. “I remember the first episodes coming out on Nickelodeon and if I turn Nickelodeon on today, I’ll still watch it. It would be really cool to get a win at Kansas Speedway. It’s a fast track, it will probably be wide open for the majority of the runs. It’ll be a lot of fun and good racing for the fans.”
All 43 drivers who start the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 will want to win, however for two drivers, a win Saturday at their ‘hometown track’ would mean everything.
“There would be no bigger win on the circuit than Kansas for me,” said Carl Edwards, who grew up just over the state line in Columbia, MO. “I want to win there as badly as anywhere. For me, it would be as big as the Daytona 500. Kansas is a cool place to go and fans might get to celebrate with me in the grandstands after it’s over. They would have a hard time pulling me out of the grandstands.”
Edwards has one second-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Kansas. That finish came in 2008 after a memorable Turn 4 banzai move to pass Jimmie Johnson in the final turn, as Edward’s car slid back up the banking and hit the wall allowing Johnson to slide by and take the checkered flag.
“I head to Kansas Speedway with one goal in mind, winning at my home track,” said Kansas native Clint Bowyer. “Winning at Kansas Speedway would be one of the biggest accomplishments of my career. To be able to win in front of the hometown crowd and celebrate a win in victory lane at Kansas Speedway would be great.”
Tickets are available now for the Toyota Tundra 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night and the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday night. Call 866.460.7223 or visit kansasspeedway.com to purchase tickets.
Parking is always free at Kansas Speedway and fans can bring in one 14x14x14-inch soft-sided cooler with their favorite food and beverages.