Five Sprint Cup drivers to watch at Kansas

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Keep an eye on these drivers during Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway on NBC.

Jimmie Johnson

The slump is officially over for Johnson, whose win last week at Charlotte continued what’s been a stout Chase so far for him. If not for penalties at Chicagoland and Dover, Johnson could’ve won three of the four Chase races, and he’s led nearly100 laps more in the Chase (363) than he did in the entire regular season (266). He finished 17th in May at Kansas —where he’s a 3-time winner. Expect him to be much stronger Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr.

A win at Kansas has been so close, yet so far away for Truex on several occasions. The latest near-miss was in May when he led 172 laps from the pole only to be knocked out of contention when a flying bolt head got lodged behind his right-front wheel and forced him to pit. Truex sits 19 points ahead of the cut line but with Talladega looming, he desperately wants a win (like everyone else) to avoid potential disaster next week.

Kevin Harvick

He has been beset by mechanical setbacks in the last two races (37th at Dover – track bar mount failure; 38th at Charlotte – electrical/engine), but he may have been saved by another at Charlotte when Denny Hamlin‘s engine blew late in the going. That allowed Harvick to pull within eight points of the cut line going into Kansas — where he’s finished first or second in four of the last six races, including a second in May.

Joey Logano

Before crashing at Kansas in the spring, Logano had rattled off two wins – the 2014 and 2015 Chase races – and five consecutive top-five finishes there. He’s on the outside looking in (six points behind the cut line) after being one of multiple Chasers in trouble at Charlotte. If he keeps clean this weekend, he figures to put himself in at least decent shape for Talladega

Kasey Kahne

Kahne missed the Chase, but he too has benefited from Hendrick Motorsports’ late-season uptick. He’s posted five top-10 finishes in the last six races (including a season-best third last week at Charlotte), and hasn’t finished worse than 14th in the last eight races. Like Johnson, he stands to be better at Kansas this weekend than he was in the spring (finished 16th).