The Cup Series last competed at Kansas in July. Usually the series competes at Kansas in early May and late October. The track is usually completely different but that may not be the case Sunday. It has been a hot fall in the Midwest so the track likely did not change as much as past seasons. The best way to analyze which drivers are best picks for your Fantasy NASCAR teams this week is too look at what happened at Kansas in July. Here are my notes from that race.
Race Rewind: Kansas Speedway (July)
Kansas Speedway: Super Start Batteries 400 (July)
– Tires were important at Kansas in July. Some teams took two tires to gain track position but the tires wore out after 20 laps the drivers fell back through in the field. Many drivers had their tires go flat and sent them into the fence. There were 11 cautions (more than normal races at Kansas) and 21 lead changes (a lot more than normal). Teams that had a fast pit crew and a balanced race car were able to finish up front in the last Kansas race.
The Drivers who looked the best in the last race at Kansas included: Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Tyler Reddick
Stage /Race Results
|Stage 1||Stage 2||
|1. Kyle Busch||1. Brad Keselowski||1. Denny Hamlin|
|2. Denny Hamlin||2. Ryan Blaney||2. Brad Keselowski|
|3. Martin Truex Jr.||3. Aric Almirola||3. Martin Truex Jr.|
|4. Ryan Blaney||4. Denny Hamlin||4. Kevin Harvick|
|5. Brad Keselowski||5. Kyle Busch||5. Erik Jones|
|6. Tyler Reddick||6. Kevin Harvick||6. Aric Almirola|
|7. Kevin Harvick||7. Erik Jones||7. Cole Custer|
|8. Aric Almirola||8. Martin Truex Jr.||8. Alex Bowman|
|9. Alex Bowman||9. Jimmie Johnson||9. Kurt Busch|
|10. Erik Jones||10. Chase Elliott||10. William Byron|
– Martin Truex Jr. has been good on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. His 108.4 Driver Rating is a series-best. Truex has a 5th-place average finishing position at Kansas in his last 8 races at the track (including two wins). He had another good race in July. Truex led 44 laps, scored 11 Stage points and finished third. He should be a good pick again Sunday.
– Kyle Busch has been a lot better in October at Kansas then he has been in the spring races. Busch finished second and third in his last two fall races at Kansas. He had a decent race in July this year. Busch started 8th, led 52 laps, won Stage 1 but the No. 18 car got loose and hit the wall with 38 laps left in the race. The damage sent Busch from his 5th place running position to an 11th place finish.
– Denny Hamlin won the last two races at Kansas. He can thank his pit crew for both wins. Hamlin had a fast car but his pit crew consistently picked up positions for him and allowed Hamlin to lead 57 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Hamlin has led a series-high 209 laps and scored 29 Stage points in his last two races at Kansas. Hamlin is my pick to win Sunday.
– Erik Jones made his Cup Series debut at Kansas in 2015 when he filled in for an injured Kyle Busch. People say you never forget your first and Jones is always good at Kansas. He has finished 5th, 7th, 3rd, 4th and 7th in his last five races in the Heartland. Jones started 21st, scored Stage points in both Stages and finished fifth in the July race. He should be a good pick for your Fantasy NASCAR teams Sunday.
– Christopher Bell had a decent car but poor results in the last race at Kansas. He started 22nd and he was running in the 18th position when Bell slid in front of Matt Kenseth on lap 183. Kenseth plowed into the back of the No. 20 car. It sent both cars into the wall and ruined their nights. Bell ender up finishing 23rd. He said after the race, “It just got loose and I could not control it.”
– Brad Keselowski won the race at Kansas last year. It was his second win at the track. The No. 2 team had another good race at Kansas in July. They took two tires to gain track position after a caution in Stage 2. Keselowski ended up winning the Stage and led 30 laps. His 4.2 average running position in the race was third-best (behind Denny Hamlin 3.1 and Martin Truex Jr. 3.7). Keselowski finished second. He should be a good pick again Sunday and he may win if this race comes down to pit strategy.
– Joey Logano has not been very good at Kansas since the Cup Series went to the 550 HP aero package. Logano has a 22.3 average finishing position in those races. He was not very good in the July race. Logano started second and took the lead from Kevin Harvick on lap one. He led the first 27 laps but it was all downhill from there. Logano had a tire go down on Lap 176 and spun out. He took out Jimmie Johnson Matt Dibenedetto as he spun into the wall. Logano finished 35th.
– Ryan Blaney has been one of the best drivers on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. His 107.2 Driver Rating on these tracks is second to Martin Truex Jr. Blaney had a fast car but bad luck at Kansas in July. He started fourth and spent most of the race running near the top five. Blaney led 15 laps, scored 16 Stage points but he got into the wall while trying to race Brad Keselowski for the lead. The right-side damage caused Blaney to finish 20th. He had a top-five car all night.
– Matt DiBenedetto had a car with decent speed but his bad luck continued at Kansas in July. DiBenedetto started 12th. He was running in the top 15 when he was taken out by Joey Logano when the No. 22 car had a tire go down. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for DiBenedetto. His car was actually moving forward before the wreck. DiBenedetto finished 36. He has the 14th best driver rating on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. He should finish just inside the top 15 Sunday.
– Kevin Harvick has been the most dominant driver in 2020 but he only has one win on a 1.5-mile track (Atlanta). His 106.4 driver rating is third-best though (behind Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney). Harvick had a good but not great race at Kansas in July. He started on the pole, led nine laps, scored nine Stage points and finished fourth. His average finishing position at Kansas since the Cup Series went to the 550 HP aero package is 8th. He is a lot better at Texas so if you have one allocation left with Harvick in season-long games, use it next week.
– Clint Bowyer announced his retirement this week. He has always said that winning at his home track (Kansas) was at the top of his bucket list. Well, he has one more chance. Bowyer will have to be a lot better than he was in the race at Kansas in July. Bowyer started 19th and he did not score any Stage points. The No. 14 car hit the wall on lap 134 and it caused a lot of dame to the car. Bowyer finished 19th. There is hope for him though. Bowyer finished 5th and 8th in the two races at Kansas last year.
– Aric Almirola had a great race at Kansas in July but he was on a hot streak at the time. Almirola had a streak of eight consecutive top-10 finishes entering the last race at Kansas. He kept the hot-streak going. Almirola started third, scored 11 Stage points and finished sixth. He has cooled off a lot since that race so it is hard to expect another top-six finish from Almirola Sunday.
– Cole Custer entered the race at Kansas in July after a trip to Victory Lane at Kentucky. He had another good race in the Heartland. Custer started 24th and slowly worked his way through the field. He did not score any Stage points but Custer was able to finish seventh. It was his third-best finish of the season. Custer is a sneaky good pick Sunday.
– Chase Elliott entered the July race at Kansas as one of the favorites because of his strong track history. Elliott finished 1st, 4th and 2nd in the three prior races to the one in July. The No. 9 car did not have the same speed in July. Elliott started 12th; only score one Stage point and finished 12th. I expect a much better race from Elliott Sunday.
– William Byron has been mediocre on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. His average starting position is 16.9 and his average finishing position is 19.6. Kansas has been his best intermediate track though. Byron finished 5th in this race last year and 10th at Kansas in July. He was also able to lead 27 laps because Chad Knaus kept him out on old tires. Byron should finish between 10th -15th Sunday.
– Alex Bowman has been good at Kansas in career but that should not surprise anyone. Bowman is always good at tracks with a lot of speed and where tire management is important. Bowmen has finished 8th, 11th, 2nd and 9th in his last four races at Kansas. He started 6th, led six laps and finished 8th at Kansas in July. I expect a similar race from Bowman Sunday.
– Jimmie Johnson has been hit or miss at Kansas over the last three seasons. His race at Kansas in July was a miss. Johnson started 20th and he was running in the top 15 when he was spun out by Joey Logano on lap 176. Johnson hit the wall and crushed the right-side of his car. He finished 32nd. Johnson did finish 6th and 10th in the two races at Kansas last year so he will have a chance for a top-10 finish this week if he has a little better luck.
– Matt Kenseth has not been very good at many tracks this year but he was decent at Kansas. Kenseth was running in the 16th position when he was spun out by Chris Buescher and hit Bubba Wallace on lap 177. Kenseth had more bad luck on lap 183. He was running in the 17th position when Christopher Bell slid in front of him from him and Kenseth could not slow down. Kenseth hit Bell and sent both cars into the wall. It could have been a good race for Kenseth if drivers would quit running into him. He finished 17th.
– Kurt Busch has been good at Kansas in his career. This tack ranks as his best 1.5 mile track. Busch has finished 9th, 4th and 7th in the three races using the 550 HP aero package at Kansas. He started ninth and finished ninth in the race at Kansas in July. He should be fast enough to finish in the top-10 again Sunday.
– Ryan Newman has not had much success at Kansas in the races where the 550 HP aero package was used. Newman finished 28th, 40th and 23rd in those races. His race at Kansas in July was a disaster. Newman started 18th. He was caught up in a wreck on lap 177. The team repaired the car and Newman spun out on lap 183. He came into the pits for four fresh tires and spun out again on lap 196. There are probably better choices for your Fantasy NASCAR team this week.
– Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a history of running well at Kansas but he did not have any luck at the track in July. Stenhouse finished 11th and 16th in the two races at Kansas last year. He started 25th at the track in July. He was running in the 18th position when his car had an electrical problem on lap 58. The team could not figure out the problem and Stenhouse finished last. I expect a much better performance from Stenhouse Sunday.
– Chris Buescher has been a decent pick on the 1.5-mile tracks this year and he has a history of running well at Kansas but he had nothing but bad luck at the track in July. Buescher finished 10th and 13th in the two race at Kansas last year. He started 13th in the July race. Buescher was spun out on lap 183 when Matt Kenseth and Christopher Bell hit the wall. It tore up the No. 17 car and ended his night. Buescher finished 33rd. He should bounce back this week and finish in the top 20.
– Austin Dillon has been one of the biggest surprises in the playoffs. He is going to need a much better race than what he had at Kansas in July if Dillon wants to end the season on a high note. Dillon started 16th, did not score any Stage points and he finished 27th. This team did win at Texas, which is a similar track so there is some hope for the No. 3 team Sunday.
– Tyler Reddick had some experience at Kansas entering the July race at the track. Reddick raced in the Cup Series at Kansas I 2019. He surprised everyone with a ninth-place finish in a third car for RCR. Reddick started 23rd and quickly went to the front in July. Reddick finished 6th in Stage 1 and 13th in the race. He will be a good pick for your Fantasy NASCAR teams this week.
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