This weekend, NASCAR brings its traveling road show to the Kansas Speedway for the first of two races this season with the AdventHealth 400 at 2 p.m. local time on FS1. In September, the track will host the Hollywood Casino 400, the second race in the NASCAR Round of 16 playoffs. Soon, Kansans may be able to place wagers on these and other NASCAR events.
Since it opened in 2001, the 1.5-mile tri-oval (shaped like the letter D) has seen incredible finishes, a few fights, a controversial block or two, cars winning that didn’t finish first, and cars winning with no gas.
Here’s a look at some of the greatest moments in NASCAR racing in Kansas.
2006: Who needs fuel?
It was the 2006 Banquet 400 and the heat was on. Temperatures hit 90 degrees in this October race. The race came down to fuel, who had it, who didn’t and who didn’t need it.
Tony Stewart took over the lead near the end but ran out of gas in turn 2 of the last lap. He shifted the car into neutral and didn’t use his brakes.
In a master stroke of luck, the car right behind Stewart, Casey Mears, also hit empty. Stewart was able to coast home without the engine running for his 27th, and most unlikely, NASCAR victory. It was certainly one of the greatest NASCAR moments at Kansas.
2007: Are you being reasonable?
Rain – a common theme in Kansas – messed up the Lifelock 400 and the race was shortened, first to 225 laps, then 210.
With three laps left, a blown tire from Juan Pablo Montoya brought out the caution flag. Greg Biffle led the race at the time and was slotted first. However, Biffle ran out of gas and had to slow down while racing under caution. Fan favorite and Missouri native Clint Bowyer slowed down too.
Jimmie Johnson didn’t. He passed both cars, creating confusion.
NASCAR has rules that say cars must finish on their own power and at a “reasonable” speed, usually thought to be under pace car speed. Biffle’s car was much slower than that, but he was declared the winner anyway in one of the strangest finishes in NASCAR history.
2008: The video game swoop
You can do things in sports video games that you can’t really do in real life.
The 2008 Camping World RV 400 at Kansas came down to an amazing two-car race between Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Edwards performed a video game-like move, swooping dramatically under Johnson in Turn 3, but gravity and the bank of the track pushed him back up toward the wall.
Edwards scraped the wall and lost momentum, allowing Johnson to duck back down and retake the lead and win by two car lengths. For a moment, Edwards looked like a car weaving through I-70 traffic. It was one of the greatest NASCAR moments at Kansas.
2014: Some light night racing
With the threat of afternoon storms always being a factor, lights were installed at Kansas Motor Speedway in 2011, and it held its first night NASCAR race in 2014.
Halfway through the race, a bank of lights went out, but the race continued, even with reports of tornadoes nearby.
Jeff Gordon held off Kevin Harvick to win the race, making for an interesting coincidence. Gordon won the first NASCAR race at Kansas, and won the first night race at the track as well.
2015: More than good, hard racing, maybe?
The 2015 Hollywood Casino 400 came down to a duel between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. What transpired is still debated in NASCAR garages.
Kenseth blocked Logano from passing him with six laps left. There’s an unwritten rule that “blocking” a driver with a better car is wrong. The two drivers encountered lap traffic next time around and Logano made up time. Logano was able to “get into” Kenseth (hit him broadside) and spin him out. The race was restarted with two laps to go and Logano drove off with the victory.
Kenseth said after the race that he’d lost a lot of respect for Logano as a driver. Logano called it good, hard racing. Of course, it’s easy to say that when you win.
2019: Double overtime and a knockout
Both races at Kansas Motor Speedway in 2019 had to go into “overtime,” with late caution flags sending the Digital Ally 400 into extra laps. Brad Keselowski edged Alex Bowman by .2 of a second in a race that featured 23 lead changes.
The Hollywood 400 needed 10 extra laps before Denny Hamlin prevailed.
But the real show came after the Xfinity Series race the day before. Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer traded paint on the final lap and Custer was angry at Reddick for making contact with him. On pit road after the race, the two men had a confrontation. Custer called Reddick a “dumb (expletive),” and then the two grabbed one another and went to the ground. The pit crews pulled the men off each other and no one seemed worse for wear.
Custer had been in an altercation in 2016 after a Camping World Series truck race with John Hunter Nemechek when he speared Nemechek (think WWE-style) after the two collided on the last lap.
Photo by Charlie Riedel/Associated Press