Keselowski Seeks Repeat Effort at Kansas; Hornish Jr. in Cup Car
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (Thursday, April 19, 2012) – Cool spring temperatures await the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as teams trek westward for the first of two stock car events this season at Kansas Speedway. With seven contests in the books, the next three includes stops at a 1.5-mile (Kansas), .75-mile (Richmond) and 2.66-mile (Talladega) track that will be a true litmus test for those teams serious about contending for this year’s championship. April showers may bring May flowers but spring victories may produce fall championships.
Located just outside of Kansas City (Kan.), the mile-and-a-half speedway is hosting its 13th Cup Series event, but it’s only the second year the track has hosted two races in a season. Already ultra-sensitive, racing at Kansas requires big speed, aero-adaptability and fuel economy in a trilogy of tuning “must-haves” for a fast race car.
"This is only the second spring race at Kansas Speedway,” explained SRT Motorsports engineer Howard Comstock. “Last year's race was run in early June with 94-degree temperatures. The track has gradually become more sensitive to heat since we started running there in 2001. With a weather forecast predicting temperatures in the mid-60s this weekend, the track will be a completely different animal than we saw last year. Engineers are going to have to be ready for what could be much higher speeds with, consequently, much higher fuel consumption, much higher tire consumption, and totally different pit strategies. A 30-degree difference in the temperature compared to last year's race will make this weekend’s STP 400 another big engineering challenge."
Dodges have recorded two Sprint Cup wins at Kansas. Penske Racing will field three Dodge Charger R/Ts, including the No. 12 SKF of Sam Hornish Jr.
Last year’s victory in the STP 400 victory wasn’t Brad Keselowski’s (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It was, however, maybe his most significant. The win ignited a charge that also produced wins at Pocono and Bristol, vaulting the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion into his first Chase appearance. The win also marked the first NSCS win for Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe, forging an already rock-solid driver-tuner and team bond.
"As a racecar driver, it's really hard to try to reflect back on past successes as you are trying to continue to move forward and progress,” Keselowski said. “I've always said that past success, or failure for that matter, doesn't guarantee anything for the future. There is no doubt, though, that this Miller Lite Dodge team is in a different place than we were prior to the race at Kansas last spring.
“I think, going back to our (NASCAR) Nationwide Series championship year in 2010, Paul and I always knew we could get it done at this level. He has done a great job in building a very good team, which makes all the difference. Now, we go to the track expecting to be one of the cars to beat. It's really just a cool feeling to know that we are continuing the proud tradition of the 'Blue Deuce' and I think the best is yet to come."
A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Auto Club Dodge Charger R/T) continues to move up in the driver standings. He’s currently 19th, 47 points out of 10th. With almost half the 2012 NASCAR Spring Cup schedule being contested on1.5-mile tracks, Allmendinger recognizes the importance of those races in the big picture.
“I’ve always said that the short tracks, the one-mile tracks and the road courses rate as my personal favorites,” Allmendinger offered. “But with us running so many races on the intermediate tracks, you have to accept the fact that you have to get all you can out of each of those races. It was Texas last weekend and we’re headed into another race on those tracks at Kansas this weekend.”
In five career starts at Kansas, Allmendinger is still looking for his first win and top-five finish. He has scored two top-10s.
Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 SKF Dodge Charger R/T) is scheduled to race in two Cup Series events this season including this weekend at Kansas and Talladega in October. Debuting the No. 12 SKF Dodge Charger R/T, Hornish will be making his first Sprint Cup start since Pocono last August. Hornish must qualify on time during Saturday’s time trials to ensure a spot in the 43-car field.