The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Kansas Speedway for the final race in the Round of 12. The Hollywood Casino 400 will be held on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET and will air on NBC.
Kansas is the second 1.5-mile track in the playoffs (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the first, was the opening race). As is the case of tracks this size, cars will use the lower horsepower package with aero ducts.
The Cup Series last ran at Kansas at night, and a late-race caution resulted in a stellar finish. However, Sunday’s race will be in the daytime, which could mean longer green flag runs. Tires wear down somewhat more quickly, though, so if a car suffers a flat, it should affect the race flow.
May’s event saw 11 cars fail pre-race tech inspection, which moved their qualifying position to the back. At least four of them gained 15 or more spots by the end. This weekend’s race is an impound one, though, which means inspection is done before qualifying. Be sure to check the starting lineup Saturday for any potential value.
Remember that DraftKings awards bonus points for laps led, fastest lap and place differential. It also subtracts from the driver’s starting position, so be careful who you place in your roster. At similar tracks this year, a handful of drivers led several laps with one driver often leading 100 laps or so. Many also finished ahead of where they began; it’s these drivers you may want to have in your lineup. They could help you win your DraftKings contests.
Before I explain my picks for this week, I want to review how last week’s mayhem at Talladega Superspeedway affected the lineup.
Ugh. Well, I had the right idea, as Team Penske cohorts Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were running near the front most of the day. Surprisingly, Logano actually finished the race with a torn-up race car. He and Aric Almirola were the only two in this roster who survived until the end. Thankfully this week shouldn’t be as wild.
Kevin Harvick ($11,000)
Career at Kansas: 27 starts, 3 wins, 8 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 9.8
I’m featuring Harvick again because of his fantastic history at Kansas. In May he began on the pole and led 104 laps. He looked to be well on his way to his first win of the season but felt something wrong in the car and pitted under green. As a result, he finished outside the top 10 (13th). On the positive side, he’s led laps in all but one of the past 12 races at this track.
At Michigan, a similarly-shaped course of the same length, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver led 22 laps en route to his second victory of 2019. He also had 26 fastest laps and earned 66 fantasy points on DraftKings. He has some incredible upside, and if he’s able to qualify on the front row again, he could win his fourth event of the season and at Kansas.
Kyle Larson ($9,400)
Career at Kansas: 11 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 5 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 16.6
The Chip Ganassi Racing wheelman has locked himself into the playoffs with his win at Dover International Speedway. Even though he might just play it safe at Kansas, he still has good finishes recently. In four of the past five events Larson finished in the top 10, and two of those were top-fives. Though he did fail pre-race inspection earlier this year, he was still able to secure an eighth-place position at the end. Since he tends to not qualify as well at Kansas (only three starts within the top 10), he would earn you a bundle of bonus points should his top-10 finish streak continue.
Alex Bowman ($8,600)
Career at Kansas: 8 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 22.1
Bowman, unfortunately, wasn’t as fast in Friday’s practices as I would have hoped, but he’s shown his Kansas speed recently. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has three top 10s in the last four races there. He also led 63 laps in the spring event and almost won in overtime, but he couldn’t overtake Keselowski. Bowman, who won at Chicago earlier this year, has two top-fives and three top 10s in the previous five races. One of those came at Las Vegas where he completed the race 13 positions higher than where he qualified. He may fight just as hard in this race as he did in the spring if he wants to move on to the Round of 8.
Ryan Newman ($7,300)
Career at Kansas: 27 starts, 1 win, 3 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 18.7
Newman’s lone Kansas win came all the way back in 2003, and he really hasn’t had good finishes there lately. So why am I choosing him? Well, for a few reasons. For one, at both Michigan races, he earned several spots from where he began, one of them being a top 10. Second, the Roush Fenway Racing driver also earned over 40 DraftKings points at those two races. That’s some good value for his price. If he’s again able to finish Sunday’s race with similar results, that would definitely boost your score and help you win your contests.
Chris Buescher ($6,700)
Career at Kansas: 7 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 18.4
Buescher has slowed down a bit this year after finishing in the top 20 for 16 straight races. Still, he does have two top 10s at this track. What’s even better is he only began one event in the top 10; he generally starts in the low 20s. As he has done so often this year, if he’s able to end the race in the mid-teens or higher, he’ll score a lot. Finally, his price has reduced from where it was earlier in the season and would be a great value play.
Dark Horse Performer
Ryan Preece ($6,400)
Career at Kansas: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 25.0
Preece finished the spring race 25th, but that’s not really why I chose him as my dark horse performer. Like his JTG Daugherty teammate, his price is fairly low but he has tremendous upside. So far this season his best start was 14th at the Charlotte ROVAL; he’s mostly qualified poorly. However, he finished 12 spots higher last week at Talladega, 13 higher at Dover, and 22 at the second Michigan race. “Wait a second, 22 positions?” Yes. That gave him 59 DraftKings points! Even if he doesn’t end Sunday’s race that well, he still can take advantage of any incidents ahead of him on the track and return good value.
It’s been a rough week for the JTG Daugherty teams, but hopefully, they can bounce back and come out stronger.