Why he'll win: Edwards has been the circuit's top driver this season on the intermediate-length tracks, and the points leader should put some distance between himself and the rest of the Chase field on Sunday. He wins this going away.
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team haven't flashed the kind of speed on the 1.5-mile tracks that the drivers have from Roush Fenway Racing, but Johnson has a history of peaking at the perfect time. Johnson has yet to win at an intermediate-length track this season, but it would surprise no one in the garage if he got it done on Sunday.
Don't expect much from: Clint Bowyer -- In 10 starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season, Bowyer's average finish has been a so-so 18.6.
My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: He's been great on the intermediate tracks this season, and though he hasn't won at Kansas before, he has finished in the top 10 in four out of six races.
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- Noboby's better right now, and the Biff has a good record in Kansas City, with one win and three top-10 finishes in six starts. This much is certain -- if Biffle wins he becomes the favorite to win the championship.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Burton -- If past history is any guide, Burton will struggle at Kansas. He has one top-10 finish there in seven races ... but he is running very strong at the moment. This race should tell us if he's capable of winning his first title.
My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: It's been the Greg Biffle show these last two weeks, but Johnson's quietly put himself in position to challenge for the title. Usually a slow starter in the Chase, Johnson's two consecutive Top 5 finishes have him just 10 points behind Carl Edwards -- the King of Intermediate Tracks. But people forget the last time we went to a Cookie Cutter, it was Johnson coming out on top at Fontana; and after nearly winning Kansas in '06, the No. 48 comes here with both the setup and the motivation to get the job done.
Keep an eye on: Kyle Busch -- Busch has struggled at Kansas throughout his short career, highlighted by an ugly crash with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. last Fall. But a 210-point deficit has left Busch fighting for his playoff life, and he'll be desperate to work his way up front this Sunday. Whether that aggression will step over the line is the question -- and if it does, what unsuspecting victim will Busch take along with him?
Don't expect much from: Carl Edwards -- Cousin Carl struggling ... on an intermediate track! I know you think I just committed blasphemy, but please, just hear me out. Edwards has led just eight laps in his entire career at Kansas, and crashed out last year en route to finishing 37th. He's had some success, too -- a third place finish is his career high in '06 -- but I think a win for Edwards might be a bit of a stretch.
My Pick: Clint Bowyer
Why he'll win: Many thought he actually was last year's race winner, after Greg Biffle was running low on fuel as he neared the checkered flag of a race that finished under yellow but with no passing under caution, Biffle was credited with the victory. Bowyer, who is from nearby Emporia, Kan., will win this year's race under green. .
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- OK, I'm officially converted. After his spectacular start to the Chase by winning the first two races, Biffle is now the hottest driver in the series, and he returns to the track where he won last year. But it remains difficult to win three Cup races in a row, which is why he will come close but not be first to the checkered flag.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Burton -- He has no wins and only one top-10 finish in his previous trips to Kansas Speedway. He was 36th last year.
My Pick: Greg Biffle
Why he'll win: Why not? The guy's on a roll. And speaking of roll, that's how he crossed the finish line at Kansas last season under caution, with a wee little bit of fuel left in the tank. With Roush Fenway looking awful 2003-04-05ish, he figures to stay viable as a championship contender.
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- Because he's still the two-time defending champion and he's still going to win a third in a row. The points are going to have to come from somewhere.
Don't expect much from: Clint Bowyer -- He could script a nice story by winning at his hometown NASCAR track ? he thought he'd written that one last year -- but that chapter might have closed.
My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: Second at New Hampshire and fifth at Dover so far in the Chase, Johnson will srike gold and add Kansas to the list of tracks he's won in it. Johnson doesn't have a great record at Kansas -- third last year is the only top-five in six starts -- but two poles and four top-10s says he's been competitive. Most telling is Johnson's second-place run at Chicagoland, the track most like Kansas in Sprint Cup, in July. Johnson had the best car and the lead with two laps remaining and blamed himself for losing it on the restart to Kyle Busch. Those notes and that memory will come in handy Sunday.
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- He's won two in a row and going to a track at which he won last year and also finished second in 2005 and third in 2004. Biffle has led laps in the last four races at Kansas. He'll definitely be a strong contender, but it's difficult to win three in a row in Cup, even when you're on top of your game.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Burton -- He has one top-10 -- a fifth in 2006 -- and an average finish of 19.5 in seven starts at Kansas. Burton finished 19th at Chicagoland, the 1.5-mile track that most resembles Kansas, in July. Burton is one of the most consistent top-10 finishers in Cup, but he hasn't found the right package at Kansas.
My Pick: Clint Bowyer
Why he'll win: Time for a little surprise. Bowyer will enjoy a little hometown love at Kansas and make a push toward the top of the Chase standings. He has just two career starts at Kansas and has finished second and ninth.
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- It's been hard to take your eye off of Biffle since the Chase started as he's driven to victory in both races. Biffle has also been strong at Kansas, finishing third, second, 12th and first in his last four races there.
Don't expect much from: Jeff Burton -- Burton has crept within 82 points of first and he remains strong and consistent. He doesn't have the strongest track record at Kansas, however, with just one top-10 finish in seven career starts. He finished 36th in this race last year.
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