Truex has been here before, losing in the 2010 final to Mark Martin. Bowyer was eliminated in the first round in each of the previous two years.
My official, rock-solid pick is Bowyer, but it's more a pick against Truex, who has never had a top-10 finish at Kansas Speedway.
Carry on, Jimmie Johnson
First of all, special thanks to Trevor Ebaugh, Eric Soderburg and the rest of the Stats & Information group's NASCAR team, who help me come up with incredible notes like this every week.
Lately, we've seen long green-flag runs dominating races, and if we get them at Kansas it could benefit some more than others:
• Carl Edwards -- Edwards improves markedly as runs continue at Kansas. He's the 15th-fastest driver early in runs (the first 25 percent of laps after pit stops) but third-fastest late in the run (final 25 percent). That's the most spots improved from early to late since 2005, when NASCAR began tracking loop data.
• Greg Biffle -- Biffle's the second-fastest driver late in runs and has a fifth-place average finish at Kansas since 2005. Biffle's also carrying some serious momentum after his win last Saturday at another 1.5-mile track, Texas.
• Jimmie Johnson -- Johnson is just flat-out fast at Kansas -- it doesn't matter if it's long or short runs.
Over the past eight Kansas races, Johnson has been faster than the average field speed in every stage of the race, and the differential only gets better as the race goes on.
Might be time for Hendrick to dust off those 200th win caps.
Looking for Trouble
Every week, our Stats & Info team compiles a breakdown of the wrecks at the next track on the schedule. Here's this week's takeaway:
Recent races have been notable for their lack of cautions, but if some come out at Kansas, keep an eye on Turn 2.
Since the track opened in 2001, 22 of the 51 accidents at the track have occurred on Turn 2, partly because of a 10-degree drop from Turn 2 to the backstretch.
The second-most common wreck site has been Turn 4, with just nine accidents.
The Eliminator: Kansas
For those of you new to my little blog, every week I use a device called The Eliminator to make my pick. It's pretty simple: Instead of telling you somebody will win, I'll point out why everybody else has to lose. The driver remaining, by process of elimination, will be the race winner.
And don't doubt the system -- The Eliminator hit Jimmie Johnson last October at Kansas.
1. There's never been a first-time winner at Kansas (17 eliminated, 29 remaining).
2. Every Kansas winner had a top-20 finish in the previous Texas race (11 eliminated, 18 remaining).
3. Every winner this season had finished 13th or better in the previous race at the track (eight eliminated, 10 remaining).
4. The past eight Kansas winners finished 19th or worse in the most recent Charlotte race (seven eliminated, three remaining).
5. Both of last year's Kansas winners snapped winless streaks of over 20 races (two eliminated, one remaining).
Your winner: Mark Martin