Another week, another race. The Kansas Speedway saw a race that had a record fewest cautions, three compared to the previous record of five, and saw many moments of trouble on pit road. Many drivers saw engine issues, others saw a rebound from a week ago.
Despite the lack of cautions, unlike last week at Texas, the racing was one of the more competitive thus far in the season. Every possible lane that could be used to find speed was used. Cars got strung out, but could still pass.
In the end, the car in victory lane had to out-run the best car on the track. All afternoon, it was Martin Truex Jr. that put on the most pressure to everyone that he was racing that if they were to win, they had to somehow beat his No. 56. Late in the going, it was Denny Hamlin making the charge, and taking the challenge...one that he began to win.
His late pass gave him the lead, and one that he extended at one point. Still, Truex went hard, and went banzai on two occasions. But, he couldn't make it stick.
After winning just one race all last season, Hamlin now has two wins in eight races. More importantly, he's more confident in his team, his new crew chief and himself. It is certainly an eye-opener for the competition.
Sadly, the win for Hamlin did not give a victory to any writers, but that's not to say it was a bad week. All but four had top-10 runs, with six finishing in the top-five. The points are close, but there's still a gap between the leader and the competition.
Here's where they stand after the STP 400:
Misan Akuya (297) Matt Kenseth finished 4th (1)
Billy Fellin (284) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (2)
James Broomhead (283) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Rob Tiongson (276) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (1)
Christopher Leone (275) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Sal Sigala Jr. (273) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (0)
Kara Martin (268) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Kelly Crandall (254) Tony Stewart finished 13th (1)
Patti Rodisch (246) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Dustin Parks (225) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Ryan O'Hara (222) Jeff Gordon finished 21st (0)
Michael Hirshbein (216) Kyle Busch finished 10th (0)
Next Race: The Kansas Speedway will be going under the knife immediately as the track will add new asphalt, progressive banking, and completely change the handling of the track before the Chase. But, the next stop for the stars of NASCAR truthfully doesn't need to change a thing. That's quite possibly the main reason this track has been nicknamed "Racing Perfection."
It's a short track much like Martinsville, has the shape of Michigan, but yet has the speeds of Bristol. Add in the fact the race is under the lights, and it's officially a real Saturday night shootout. Richmond is the next track on the horizon for NASCAR, and it is sure to be a night where everyone gets to experience the perfect amount of action.
Writers, this one should be either easy to pick, or tough to pick depending on your position. But, your picks for the Sprint Cup Series 400 are due by Thursday, April 26, at 10 p.m. ET.
NOTE: The name of the race is the series name as right now, no sponsor has been signed on for this event. Last year it was sponsored by Crown Royal, who is no longer in the sport.