The final race in Round 2 of the MENCS Playoffs is here and some of the biggest names in the sport find themselves in a must win situation. This should be a great race Sunday. We should expect the 12 playoff teams to bring their best cars to the track this week and provide some great racing. The Hollywood Casino 400 can be seen Sunday at 2pm ET on NBC.
The MENCS will be back to a normal schedule this week. There will be one practice Friday (2pm ET on NBCSN) and qualifying Friday evening (7pm ET on NBCSN). There will be two practices Saturday (10:30am ET on CNBC and 1pm ET on NBCSN). The teams will have plenty of track time to dial in their cars for the Hollywood Casino 400. Our Driver Group Game picks need to be submitted by 8am ET Friday morning.
The MENCS last competed at Kansas in April. Kevin Harvick won the pole, led 79 laps and used 4 fresh tires to run to the front and win the KC Masterpiece 400. Ryan Blaney qualified 2nd, led 54 laps, won the first Stage but was involved in an accident on lap 247. Kyle Larson qualified 22nd and quickly made his way to the front by running up against the wall. Larson led a race-high 101 laps, won Stage 2 and finished 4th. The Team Penske Racing cars and Martin Truex Jr. also looked very strong in this race.
Race Rewind at Kansas: KC Masterpiece 400 (2018)
12 MENCS teams tested at Kansas last month. The drivers included: Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Austin Dillon, Matt Kenseth, Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon and David Ragan. Elliott posted the top speed on the first day and Buescher posted the fastest speed on day 2. Kyle Busch was the only driver to finish in the top 3 in all of the test sessions at the track.
Here are my picks for Kansas…
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
Last week a crapshoot at the restrictor-plate race. This week it will be much easier to predict which drivers will run up front, lead laps and score place differential points. When I evaluate the races on the intermediate tracks I look at the stats from the 1.5-mile tracks this season, overall driver ranking for the season and momentum. When we add in the drivers who are running well right now, it really gives us a lot of options for our lineups Sunday.
There are only 267 laps in the race Sunday. That means there are 66.75 points available for leading laps and 133.5 points available for fastest laps. The trend at Kansas has been really consistent. The driver who leads the most laps usually leads between 101-108 laps and scores between 60 – 70 fastest laps. The second dominator leads between 80-90 laps and scores 40-50 fastest laps. The final dominator leads between 35-55 laps and scores between 30-40 fastest laps. We will need at lead two of these three dominators in our lineups this week so that will be our goal Sunday.
The drivers I expect to be the top dominators this week include: Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson
The drivers who could be the top value picks (between $9k – $7K) for the race Sunday include: Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola and Paul Menard
The drivers I expect to be the best cheap drivers (below $7K) for the race Sunday include: Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Regan Smith, Chris Buescher and Bubba Wallace
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 5 Races at Kansas
|Avg. Finish||Laps Led||
|1. Kevin Harvick||
|2. Martin Truex Jr.||
|3. Kyle Busch||
|4. Ryan Blaney||
|5. Jimmie Johnson||
|6. Kurt Busch||
|7. Austin Dillon||
|8. Clint Bowyer||
|9. Alex Bowman||
|10. Michael McDowell||
|11. AJ Allmendinger||
|12. Matt Kenseth||
|13. David Ragan||
|14. Kyle Larson||
|15. Brad Keselowski||
I will post my final DraftKings picks Saturday evening.
Fantasy Live Preview
We needed a lot of luck last week at Talladega and with 2 laps left in the race it looked like we were going to get it. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski ran out of gas in the final laps. We were still able to score enough points to move my picks into the top 97% on the site. We have 5 more races to move into the top 100% and finish both regular season and playoffs beating 100% of the competition. That is domination!
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 7p.m. ET Friday. My pick for the pole will be posted after the first practice Friday (3p.m. ET) on the front page of this website.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
2 Playoff Drivers
The two best drivers for this race should be Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. and that is who I plan to go with. There have been 8 races on the 1.5-mile tracks this season and Harvick has won 3 of them. He won the pole, scored 18 Stage points and led 79 laps on his way to Victory Lane in the last race at Kansas. Harvick has a great chance to whip the field again Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. has been very good on the 1.5-mile tracks too this season. If you take away his blown tire at Texas, Truex has an average finishing position of 3rd at these tracks. He has also scored the 2nd-most Stage points on the intermediate tracks. Truex finished 2nd to Kevin Harvick in the first race at Kansas and I would not be surprised to see them finish #1 and #2 in the Hollywood Casino 400.
2 Non-Playoff Drivers
My two Non-Playoff Drivers are likely to be to drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny Hamlin and Eric Jones have run well on the 1.5-mile tracks this season and it should continue Sunday. Hamlin finished 5th in the first race at Kansas. It was his second consecutive top-5 finish at the track. The No. 11 car should be the best choice from the Non-Playoff Drivers this week.
Erik Jones has more experience at Kansas than any other 1.5-mile track because he filled in for Kyle Busch in 2015 at the track. Jones has finished 6 of the 8 races on the 1.5-mile tracks in the top 11. He has also qualified on the front row in the last two, including a pole at Las Vegas last month. Jones should score Stage points and finish in the top 10 Sunday.
I trust Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. enough this week that I do not think we need to use our Garage Driver pick on a Playoff driver. The No. 4 and No. 18 have finished 14 of the 16 races on the 1.5-mile tracks this season in the top 5. I will take my chances that they both can do it again Sunday and spend my Garage Driver pick on a Non-Playoff Driver.
The plan right now is to use Paul Menard in the Garage. I know you are probably thinking, “Wait…what? Manard?”… Yes, the No. 21 car is a good pick this week. Menard has finished 6 of his 8 races on the 1.5-mile tracks this season in the top 13. Kansas ranks as his best intermediate track. Menard qualified 11th and finished 6th in the first race at Kansas. He should be a good insurance policy this week.
Pole Winner: Ryan Blaney
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Winning Manufacturer: Ford
Fantrax Bronze Point Salary Cap Game Preview
There are only 5 races left in the season and we are running out of time to make it to the top of our league standings. My picks were running well at Talladega until half of them ran out of gas on the final laps. That just sucks! We still have some time to get the points back.
I will evaluate the drivers in the three practice sessions this week and post my lineup Saturday evening. Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
Martin Truex Jr.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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