Is Tonight’s Race at Kansas The Last Midweek Race Of The Season?

Tonight’s race in Kansas will mark the fourth points paying weeknight race for the NASCAR Cup Series this season. Throw in the All-Star race and you get five races since May that have taken place since May during a weeknight.

You read that right, the NASCAR Cup Series is bringing all the action to the fans in a mid-week showdown with  Thursday night’s Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts race at Kansas Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. This week’s Kansas race will be the 80th time the NASCAR Cup Series has competed on a Thursday.

Leading up to this season in the Modern Era (1972-Present) racing on a Thursday has been rare; it only happened a few times when Daytona International Speedway held their July race on the fourth (1974, 1985). But, prior to the Modern Era, mid-week racing was quite common – 76 of previous 79 Cup races held on Thursday were prior to the Modern Era from 1949 to 1971.

Below are the last 15 NASCAR Cup Series races held on a Thursday:

Date

Track

Race Winner

Season

1

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Charlotte

Chase Elliott

2020

2

Thursday, July 4, 1985

Daytona

Greg Sacks

1985

3

Thursday, July 4, 1974

Daytona

David Pearson

1974

4

Thursday, July 15, 1971

Islip

Richard Petty

1971

5

Thursday, April 15, 1971

Maryville

Richard Petty

1971

6

Thursday, April 8, 1971

Columbia

Richard Petty

1971

7

Thursday, February 11, 1971

Daytona

Pete Hamilton

1971

8

Thursday, February 11, 1971

Daytona

David Pearson

1971

9

Thursday, August 6, 1970

Columbia

Bobby Isaac

1970

10

Thursday, July 9, 1970

Thompson

Bobby Isaac

1970

11

Thursday, May 28, 1970

Maryville

Bobby Isaac

1970

12

Thursday, April 30, 1970

Columbia

Richard Petty

1970

13

Thursday, February 19, 1970

Daytona

Charlie Glotzbach

1970

14

Thursday, February 19, 1970

Daytona

Cale Yarborough

1970

15

Thursday, September 18, 1969

Columbia

Bobby Isaac

1969

 

 

Kansas Speedway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series 28 times, but this week’s will be the first on a Thursday. The 28 previous Cup events have produced 16 different pole winners and 15 different race winners. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads the series in poles at Kansas with five (fall 2013, 2014 sweep, spring 2018, spring 2019). NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (2001, 2002, 2014), Kevin Harvick (2013, 2016, 2018) and Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2011, 2015) are all tied for the series-most wins at Kansas with three each. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon won the first NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on September 30, 2001; actually, Gordon won the first two series races at Kansas (2001, 2002). The series’ most popular driver Chase Elliott holds the record for the youngest series Kansas winner at  22 years, 10 months, 23 days (October 21, 2018) and NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin is the oldest series Kansas winner at 46 years, 9 months, 0 days.

NASCAR Cup Series

Kansas Active Race Winners

Active Race Winners

Wins

Jimmie Johnson

3

Kevin Harvick

3

Brad Keselowski

2

Denny Hamlin

2

Joey Logano

2

Martin Truex Jr

2

Matt Kenseth

2

Chase Elliott

1

Kyle Busch

1

Ryan Newman

1

 

In this week’s event, 10 of the 15 former NASCAR Cup Series Kansas race winners are entered; including last season’s winners Brad Keselowski (May) and Denny Hamlin (Playoffs). The May race last year was dominated by Kevin Harvick, who led 104 laps, but it was Brad Keselowski who passed Alex Bowman with 11 laps to go to take the checkered flag and his second career win at the 1.5-mile track.

 

Of the 10 former Cup Kansas winners entered on Thursday, four of them are still looking for their first win in 2020 – Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman.  Of the four, Kyle Busch is the most recent winner at Kansas grabbing his lone victory at 1.5-mile track in 2016.

Will this be the final weeknight race of the season? Odds are, yes. With the playoffs likely going to remain intact, this will probably be the final time we race with the weeknight standards.

Will this experiment stay for 2021? I highly believe so but the reason for this race being run is NBC Sports wanted to experiment with a weeknight Cup race.

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