Here are the projections for Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Kansas City. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.5-mile D-Oval) and time of year.
NSCS at Kansas City Projected Top 20
• Kevin Harvick led 138 laps en route to winning the last race at this track after finishing 12th in the spring race last season. Kansas prerace ratings peg Harvick’s No. 4 and Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 as the class of the field, with a sizable gap between them and the No. 99 of Carl Edwards.
• Johnson is still winless 10 races into the season for just the third time in his Sprint Cup Series career. However, Kansas has been a slump-buster for him in the past, as he snapped a career-long 21-race winless streak here in 2011. Johnson should have a top-three car and contend for the win Saturday night.
• Kyle Busch has struggled at Kansas –- it’s the only track where he’s raced and failed to record a top-five finish. He’s also wrecked out of each of the last three races here, giving him a 23.3 career average finish at the track, his worst anywhere on the Cup circuit.
• Busch’s teammate Denny Hamlin is coming off a win at Talladega, but that momentum might not carry over to Saturday. This season on the two restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega), Hamlin has finished second and first, plus wins in two non-points events (Sprint Unlimited, Budweiser Duel). But he has yet to record a top five in seven races on the other tracks, with an average finish of 15.7.
• Kansas native Clint Bowyer is making his 300th career Sprint Cup Series start this weekend at Kansas. Last week at Talladega, Denny Hamlin won in his 300th career NSCS start. Only five drivers in series history have won in their 300th Cup start, but it’s now happened in each of the last three seasons.