2011 STP 400 NASCAR Predictions
(The Spread) – The Sprint Cup Series makes its first of two appearances at Kansas Speedway this weekend with the inaugural running of the STP 400.
Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile, D-shaped oval. It has 15 degrees of banking in the turns, 11 degrees on the front stretch, and five degrees on the backstretch. This is a multiple-groove racetrack where qualifying doesn’t mean much. In the previous 10 Sprint Cup races held at Kansas Speedway, two have been won by the pole sitter.
Kansas Speedway is also home to fuel-mileage races more often than not, which means this is as good a place as any for a first time winner (or maybe sleeper that you wouldn't expect to see win). If you’re looking at similar tracks, look at Las Vegas and Chicagoland as they’re both 1.5-mile, D-shaped ovals with Las Vegas having the most banking.
Jimmie Johnson has sat on the pole in three of nine races here and came away with a win in 2008. In three out of the last four years, Johnson has had finishes of first, second and third, and has only finished outside the top-10 twice in nine races. In the past, Johnson dominated tracks like this and after a couple of bad weeks this is just the race to get him and his team back on track.
The last few weeks have been rough for Biffle and his crew, but this might be the race where their misfortunes end. In nine races at Kansas, Biffle has an amazing six finishes of third or better and has won here twice. He consistently leads laps and runs up front – something that’s key at this type of track. His best average finish here is 8.1, so look for Biffle and his team to finally run a mistake-free race.
We haven't picked Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win too many times during his current winless streak – and for good reason. But this could very well be the week he finally gets his first win in what feels like an eternity. While his stats at Kansas are average at best, it's his new crew chief that inspires us to make him our long shot favorite. Steve Letarte has had plenty of success with Jeff Gordon at Kansas and we see no reason he shouldn't do the same with Dale Jr.