A lot of negative words have been said about NASCAR’s new aerodynamic package so far in 2019, but Saturday night at Kansas Speedway the planets aligned and the package worked just as the sanctioning body had hoped it would — but didn’t — through the first three 1.5-mile speedway races.
Throughout the entire Digital Ally 400 race, the leader wasn’t able to gap the entire field by much of a margin, and we actually saw quite a few challenges for the lead spot. In fact, the 23 lead changes on Saturday were up significantly from the past three events at Kansas. Last fall, there were just 11 lead changes at Kansas, an all-time low for the track. Last spring there were just 13 lead changes and the fall of 2017 showcased just 14 lead changes.
But it wasn’t just that the lead changed hands more throughout the race that made this a great race. Over the final fuel load of the race you literally had no idea who was going to pull off the race win. There were four different leaders over the final 42 laps (Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski). When the white flag was displayed numerous others had emerged with a shot to win the race like Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.
Overall, Saturday night’s race at Kansas produced something that no 1.5-mile speedway race has this season — it put people on the edge of their seat while they waited to see who would win the race. In the end, Brad Keselowski took his 30th-career Cup Series win and third win of 2019. So, yes this package technically didn’t break the stranglehold of those who have been dominant this season, but when you look at the finishing order, you’ll see that the package did actually become the great equalizer.
12 of the top-14 finishers on Saturday have yet to win a race this season. Only Keselowski and Chase Elliott, who finished fifth, were past 2019 winners who finished in the top-14. That is pretty impressive and it means there was a legitimate chance for something we haven’t seen much of this year — new names breaking through.
Overall, I thought Saturday’s race was incredible. I myself, still don’t care for the high down force, low horsepower method NASCAR is currently using, but after seeing what it produced Saturday night I can see why they went with it. Hopefully we can get more of these type races with this package this season.