The Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wraps up at Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. Last week’s race at Talladega made it a tight situation for the drivers currently outside of the Top 8 in points. Eight points separate Jimmie Johnson, who is currently the eighth and final driver in the playoff standings, and Kyle Busch, who is the first driver out of the Top 8. Considering the circumstances, expect the drivers outside of the Top 8 to take risks to win the race and move onto the next round.
TOP PRICED PICKS
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800 on DraftKings) can become the first driver in Cup Series history to win four consecutive races on 1.5 mile tracks. In 18 starts at Kansas, Truex has one win, six Top 10 finishes, and 622 Laps Led, which is second among active drivers. At this site, Truex has the fifth-best Average Running Position of 11.8, the fourth-most Fastest Laps at 335, the fifth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 3,276, and the fourth-highest Driver Rating at 98.4. He was fifth in first practice, 10th in second practice, had the 10th best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts first. Truex has been solid throughout practices and has been the driver to beat at 1.5 mile tracks this season. Do not expect that to change this week.
Kyle Busch ($10,300) has been one of the best drivers at Kansas in recent years. Kyle Busch has finished in the Top 5 in his last five starts at the site. In 19 starts at KS, he has one win and seven Top 10 finishes. Since 2005 at Kansas, Kyle Busch has the ninth-most Fastest Laps at 127, the eighth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 2,936, the seventh-most Laps Led at 215, and the eighth-most Quality Passes (Passes of Cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions). He was third in first practice, eighth in second practice, second in final practice, and starts seventh. Kyle Busch has been very good throughout practices and will compete for a Top 5 finish.
Brad Keselowski ($10,100) has finished in the Top 10 in four of the last five races this season. In 15 starts at Kansas, Keselowski has one win and eight Top 10 finishes, which include four of his last five starts at the site. At KS, Keselowski has the ninth-best ARP of 13.6, the sixth-best Average Finishing Position of 13.1, and the eighth-best DR of 90.3. He was ninth in final practice and starts 10th. Based on his final practice speed, Keselowski will finish around his starting position.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,900) has great history at Kansas but is not quite an elite play right now. In 22 starts at the site, Johnson has three wins and 17 Top 10 finishes, both of which lead active drivers, and 601 Laps Led, which is third of active drivers. Since 2005 at Kansas, Johnson leads all drivers in Fastest Laps at 563, Laps in the Top 15 at 4,123, Quality Passes at 877, and DR at 108.7. He starts 12th and was 14th in first practice, 16th in second practice, and ranked 11th in the 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Watch for Johnson to finish in the Top 15, slightly behind his starting position based on practice speeds.
Kyle Larson ($9,800) finished sixth in his last start at Kansas earlier this season. In, seven starts at the site, Larson has four Top 15 finishes. He has the sixth-best ARP of 12.6 and the seventh-best DR of 90.6 at Kansas. Larson was first in first and second practices, eighth in final practice, and starts 13th. Larson has been very fast throughout practices, therefore he will compete for a Top 5 finish while gaining a small amount of points from Place Differential.
Kevin Harvick ($9,600) is the defending winner of this event. In his last five starts at Kansas, he has finished in the Top 3 four times. In 23 starts at the site, Harvick has two wins, 12 Top 10 finishes, and 559 Laps Led, which is fourth of active drivers. Since 2005 at KS, Harvick has the best ARP of 9.7, the third-most Laps at 360, and the third-best DR of 105.8. He was second in first and second practices, third in final practice, and starts second. Harvick has been one of the fastest throughout practices and will finish around his starting position.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Clint Bowyer ($8,700) finished ninth earlier this season after starting 30th in his first start for Stewart-Haas Racing at Kansas. In 18 starts at the site, Bowyer has six Top 10 finishes. He was ninth in first practice, fifth in second practice, sixth in final practice, and starts ninth. Bowyer’s practice speeds point to a Top 10 finish, ahead of his starting position.
Ryan Blaney ($8,500) is a must-play this week. In five starts at Kansas, Blaney has three Top 10 finishes and three finishes with positive PD. He also has the fourth-best ARP of 11.8, the fourth-highest percentage of Laps in the Top 15 at 72.2%, and the fifth-best DR of 92.2. Blaney was fourth in first practice, sixth in second practice, first in final practice, and starts 40th after failing post-qualifying inspection. Blaney’s practice speeds indicate a Top 5 finish, but due to his starting position, he will gather more PD points than any other driver.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,800) is outside of the Top 8 in the playoff standings and needs a great finish to move on to the next round. In nine starts at Kansas, Stenhouse has six Top 20 finishes, which includes his last four starts at the site. He was 19th in first practice, 17th in second practice, 22nd in final practice, and starts 24th. Stenhouse’s practice speeds mark a finish in the Top 20, allowing him to score a few points from PD.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400) started 15th and finished seventh in his only start at Kansas earlier in 2017. He has three Top 10 finishes in his last four races this season. Suarez was seventh in first practice, third in second practice, fourth in final practice, and starts fifth. Suarez has been very good throughout practices and will finish around his starting position.
Ty Dillon ($6,800) has made two starts at Kansas. He has one Top 20 finish at the site from earlier this season and has finished with a positive PD in both of his prior starts. Dillon was 31st in first practice, 21st in second practice, 25th in final practice, and starts 29th. Dillon’s second and final practice speeds indicate a finish in the Top 25 while capturing a couple of points from PD.
Chris Buescher ($6,700) obtained his best career finish of 18th earlier in the year at Kansas. In three starts at Kansas, Buescher’s worst finish is 24th and has finished with a positive PD. He was 16th in first practice, seventh in second practice, 11th in final practice, and starts 20th. Expect a Top 15 finish from Buescher based on practice speeds.
David Ragan ($5,900) finished 17th earlier this season at Kansas after starting 34th. In 17 starts at the site, Ragan has seven Top 20 finishes. He was 29th in first and final practices, 26th in second practice, and starts 27th. Watch for Ragan to finish around his starting position as indicated by his practice speeds.