There were a lot of things to like in last Saturday night‘s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway. Response to the 12thrace of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season was overwhelmingly positive from most of NASCAR Nation and understandably so. The ingredients that included impact of the new rules package coupled with cooler conditions and additional track grip cooked up an interesting and entertaining race.

The plethora of statistics NASCAR pumps out after every race supports the view Kansas was a competitive race. But I tend to rely more on my eyes and ears than just a stat sheet and from that perspective Kansas passed with flying colors.

However there‘s another aspect that more than likely struck a chord among fans who viewed the race favorably. While the powerhouse teams were again competitive (oh by the way the score remains Joe Gibbs Racing/Team Penske 11 — everyone else 1), there were also names not usually seen at the front of the field making an impact.

Among the top-10 finishers on Saturday night were Alex Bowman, who actually has made a living finishing second the last three weeks, Jimmie Johnson, Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ending up just outside the first ten in 11th.

None of those results were flukes or the end result of fuel mileage or a weather shortened race or anything else out of the ordinary. Most if not all were at the front end of the field the entire race and parlayed the opportunity to finish well.

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Reigning Xfinity Series champion Reddick was impressive all weekend long in one of his limited Cup starts for Richard Childress Racing. He qualified well and at one point had his car in the top five before finally sliding back to end up ninth. Ditto for Buescher, who gave JTG Daugherty Racing its biggest boost since rookie Ryan Preece performed so well in the Daytona 500. Buescher maintained a presence upfront most of the 400 miles.

Then there was Stenhouse Jr., who was challenging for the lead in the early going before needing to play catch-up late. When Kevin Harvick encountered his issues to take him from the top spot, Stenhouse Jr. moved up to second and there was legitimate discussion in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 pit about the possibility of winning the race and rightfully so.

NASCAR fans are the same as any other sport‘s followers in wanting to see something different from time to time. One of the goals of the new rules was to tighten up the field from top to bottom. There is still a very prominent line of demarcation between the elite and teams with smaller resources, but Saturday proved given the right conditions the rules can allow those organizations to be a bit more competitive.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.