The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be back to Saturday night racing in the Heartland. Kansas Speedway has been lightning fast since it was repaved following the 2012 season. The 550 HP engines with the 2” splitter, 8” spoiler and aero ducts will be used this week. That should make the corner speeds really fast and promote close racing under the lights. The Digital Ally 400 can be seen Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
The MENCS will have fewer practices this week since they are cramming all on-track activity into one day. The first practice is Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET (No TV) and final practice will be Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Qualifying is Friday at 7 p.m. ET (FS1). Our Driver Group Game picks must be in by 8 a.m. ET Friday.
Kevin Harvick dominated the night race at Kansas last year. The No. 4 car won the pole, finished 2nd in both Stages and led 79 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Kyle Larson also had a dominant car. The No. 42 car took the lead from Harvick, led a race-high 101 laps, won Stage 2 and finished 4th. Ryan Blaney also looked good. The No. 12 car led 54 laps, won Stage 1 but crashed at the end of the race. These three cars should be good again Saturday night.
Race Rewind at Kansas: KC Masterpiece 400 (2018)
Here are my picks for Kansas…
Driver Group Game A Picks
Kevin Harvick (6): Harvick has been one of the most consistent drivers at the intermediate tracks this year and he is very good at Kansas. Harvick finished 4th at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Auto Club. He was also able to lead 133 laps in these races. Harvick has a series-high 123.1 driver ranking in the last four races at Kansas. Last year he dominated the night race at Kansas and he should be a lock for a top 5 finish this week. I will use another allocation with the No. 4 car Saturday night.
Martin Truex Jr. (7): Kansas is one of the best tracks for Truex. He has finished 1st, 1st, 2nd and 5th in his last four races in the Heartland. It does not get much better than that. Truex also has a series-high 208 laps led over the last four races at Kansas. The No. 19 team is the hottest in the sport after wins at Richmond and Dover over the last three races. I have a feeling this is the week Truex gets back to dominating the 1.5-mile tracks.
* Kyle Busch (5): I would use Busch this week instead of Kevin Harvick if you have 6 or more allocations left with him. He has been the best driver this season and his chances of going to Victory Lane are high. I go to each race at Kansas and I remember a time when I would joke in the press box about what lap Busch would crash on at Kansas. It was by far his worst track. Then Carl Edwards joined Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards told Busch something about racing at Kansas and the No. 18 car has been awesome at the track ever since. Busch is good play Saturday night.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Martin Truex Jr. 2) Kyle Busch 3) Kevin Harvick 4) Brad Keselowski 5) Joey Logano 6) Chase Elliott 7) Kyle Larson
Driver Group Game B Picks
Denny Hamlin (5): Hamlin is the best pick in Group B this week. He won at Texas and that track is similar to Kansas. Hamlin has a 7.2 average finishing position in the four intermediate track races this season. He is also good at Kansas. Hamlin has finished two of the last three races in the Heartland in the top 5. I have no problem using another allocation with Hamlin this week.
Kurt Busch (7): Busch is one of the safest picks in Group B this week. The No. 1 car has been really fast using the 550 HP engine aero package. Busch finished 3rd at Atlanta, 5th at Las Vegas, 6th at Auto Club and 9th at Texas. His stats at Kansas are pretty good too. Busch has a 9.6 average finishing position at Kansas in the last eight races at the track. Busch probably will not win the race or lead many laps but he will score a lot of Stage points and finish in the top 10. That makes him a safe pick.
Ryan Blaney (5): The racing surface at Kansas is still wearing in and that means it will be lightning fast with the current aero package. No driver in the series performs as well as Blaney on fast tracks. He has led laps in the last four races at Kansas and has scored Stages points in every Stage at Kansas since NASCAR implemented the Stage rules. This is one of his best tracks so it would be a good idea to get the No. 12 car into your lineups this week.
Erik Jones (6): I originally had Aric Almirola in this spot since he has finished the last eight races at the 1.5-mile tracks in the top 10, but Fantasy NASCAR is a game of momentum. Almirola is tending down while Jones is trending up. Jones finished both races at Kansas in the top 10 last year. Joe Gibbs Racing has been the best team this year so I want as many of their drivers as possible. I will add Jones to Truex and Hamlin in my lineup this week.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Denny Hamlin 2) Kurt Busch 3) Ryan Blaney 4) Erik Jones 5) Clint Bowyer 6) Aric Almirola 7) Daniel Suarez 8) Alex Bowman 9) Jimmie Johnson 10) Austin Dillon
Driver Group Game C Picks
Chris Buescher (5): Buescher is the best pick in Group C this week. He has run really well at the intermediate tracks this season but bad luck has caused him to finish outside the top 20. His luck has to change sooner or later and I think it will be at Kansas. Buescher has an 18.5 average finishing position at Kansas while driving for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished 6th at Kansas in 2017. I would be thrilled to get a top-15 finish from him Saturday night.
Daniel Hemric (5): Hemric will be making his first start in the MENCS at Kansas. This is one of his best tracks when Hemric drove in the Xfinity Series. Hemric won the pole, lead a race-high 128 laps and finished 2nd at Kansas in the Xfinity Series last season. I am hoping that success translates into a top 20 finish in the MENCS Saturday night. Richard Childress Racing has had speed this year. I will take a chance with Hemric at Kansas.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Chris Buescher 2) Daniel Hemric 3) Ty Dillon 4) Matt DiBendetto 5) David Ragan
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Kevin Harvick (5), Martin Truex Jr. (8)
Group B: Denny Hamlin (6), Kurt Busch (7), Ryan Blaney (8), Erik Jones (7)
Group C: Chris Buescher (6), Daniel Hemric (5)
I will post my final picks for Driver Group Game Saturday morning.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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