After Dover’s race was pushed to Monday due to rain and with Mother’s Day on Sunday, it’s a real short week for the Cup Series with a night race on tap for Saturday night in Kansas. Next week is the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway so this is the final point’s race until the end of the month on Memorial Day Weekend for the Coke 600. Martin Truex Jr. drove from the back at a place that’s incredibly tough to pass and stomped the field. It came out of nowhere for most, including me, but outside of Truex and Alex Bowman coming from the rear of the field, there wasn’t much of a challenge from the rest of the field in a race that ran single-file in Dover and was rather unexciting.
Many of the drivers and teams were vocal last week including Kyle Busch who avoided a fine with his post-race comments criticizing the new aero package being run at Dover. I’m sure he’s happy to see the series return to a mile-and-a-half track for a night race that should be cool and generate speed, playing right into his hands. Busch has enjoyed success at Kansas since the repave scoring 6 top 5’s in his last 8 races and looks to break the all-time record with 12 consecutive top 10 finishes to begin the season.
Back to my Dover picks, Kyle Busch scored a top 10 after starting 22nd, so it’s a win but with his salary cost it probably hampered the rest of your lineup if you didn’t have a Bowman or Truex paired with him. Chase Elliott led a lot of laps early and finished in the top five so that’s a win, and Kyle Larson also had a much needed good result running up in the top 5 all day and finishing 4th. Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson & Daniel Suarez all ran in the top 15 and finished there so they were solid picks, but you needed the right combination of those guys to really cash. William Byron was a great value play starting up front and running there all day with a top 10 finish.
I touched on Kyle Busch’s recent success at Kansas since the repave, he also has the most wins among active drivers in night races with 8 over the last 36 races dating back to 2015. Kevin Harvick won this race last year, which was his 5th of the season at the time whereas this season he’s still searching for number one. They have had solid runs with the new package and haven’t quite clicked, they could find it this weekend, but I need to see it consistently from Harvick before that pony gets back up to where they have been. Martin Truex Jr. enters this weekend as the man to beat winning two of the last three races this season, he swept Kansas in 2017 and hasn’t finished outside of the top 5 in the last two year’s at the track.
A few other guys to look out for this weekend are Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola & Chase Elliott. This is one of Blaney’s better tracks with three top 10’s over the last four races at the track and the speed they have had in this new package is not to be overlooked, they are due to breakthrough with a win one of these weekends. Almriola has three straight top 10 finishes at Kansas since the horrific accident a few year’s back and will look to keep his success this season on the intermediate tracks rolling. You have to keep an eye out on Elliott as the last guy to win at Kansas last fall and he’s also on fire with a win at Talladega and a top 5 at Dover starting on the pole and leading over 100 laps.
Digital Ally 400 Opening Odds:
-Kyle Busch 7/2
-Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano 7/1
-Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson 10/1
-Clint Bowyer 16/1
-Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch 20/1
-Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson 25/1
-Daniel Suarez 30/1
-Alex Bowman 60/1
DraftKings Picks for Kansas:
Kevin Harvick ($10,600): This is the week I’m all-in on the No. 4. The speed they showed off the truck was backed up as they were the fastest across the board in averages in the final practice and backed it up with the pole. He’s won 2 of the last 5 races here including this one last year and SHR hit on something. I’m all-in on that team on Saturday night starting with their veteran and former champion.
Clint Bowyer ($8,500): Bowyer is a steal here at this price. He starts third as the SHR cars qualified in the top four spots and has similar speed to his teammates. The 14 was the runner-up on the last 1.5 mile track and is oh so close to that first win of the season. They’ll run up front all day and this is the veterans best chance to finally win at his home track.
Aric Almirola ($8,100): Another steal here with this driver at that price. This team started off the season on fire with top 10 finishes and has been consistent on the intermediate tracks, Kansas has also been a good track for him since the horrific accident two years ago with 3 straight top 10’s since. The 10 car was fastest in opening practice and backed it up qualifying next to Harvick on the front row. Lock him in.
Denny Hamlin ($9,100): Of the 3 JGR Toyota’s this week I’ll go with the 11 car. He’s the most recent winner on a mile-and-a-half at Texas, has been super consistent to start the season, starts 17th and let’s face it, he’s priced affordably unlike his teammates whom are both $11K plus this weekend.
Ryan Newman ($7,800): Newman has been solid in the 6 car since coming over to Roush Fenway and his 11th place finish at Texas on the last 1.5 mile track has me leaning towards him as a middle-tier value play starting 28th. He’s got a win at Kansas from way back in 2003.
Daniel Suarez ($8,000): I’m all-in on Stewart-Haas and Suarez makes the cut. That 41 team has clicked and he rounded out the foursome with a P4 starting spot for Saturday night. He also had a top 5 finish at Texas.
David Ragan ($5,500): Did you know Ragan quietly has a 16.50 average finish at Kansas over the last two years? That’s a top 20 in all four races, if he does that on Saturday it’ll provide great value at the bottom as he rolls off P33 and is much better than he’s recent results this season.
Other Value Plays: Tyler Reddick ($6,300; starts 30th) & Ryan Preece ($6,100; starts 31st)
Race Winner Prediction:
Clint Bowyer: This was a tough call to pick one, but I’m going with the sentimental favorite in Bowyer breaking through at his home track. This is his best chance and I envision a Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang pulling in victory lane when it’s all said and done be it Harvick, Almirola or Bowyer.