The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competes at Kansas Speedway this week. This is the last race of the Round of 12 in the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs. The race can be seen Sunday at 2pm ET on NBC Sports Network.
I am so glad the race at Talladega is finished. I really wish NASCAR would take that race out of the playoffs, but that is just my opinion. My Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing team scored 231 points and fell to the top 96% (8,766 points). I still have seven weeks to get into the top 99% for the sixth consecutive season. I plan to get it done, but I have my work cut out for me this season.
The MENCS competes at another 1.5-mile track this week so fantasy teams need to start their best drivers. The teams with the most down-force and the best aero-dynamics will run up front. These are the cars that have been consistently running well this season. Here are the drivers with the best average running position on the 1.5-mile tracks in the playoffs (Chicago and Charlotte)…
- Kevin Harvick
- Chase Elliott
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Larson
- Denny Hamlin
- Matt Kenseth
- Brad Keselowski
- Jamie McMurray
- Kyle Busch
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
- Daniel Suarez
- Ryan Blaney
- Austin Dillon
- Kasey Kahne
It is surprising that Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch do not lead this list. Both drivers had some problems at Chicago and Charlotte. Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott found some speed and they proved they can run up front with the Toyota’s.
Here are my picks for Kansas…
Yahoo Group A Picks
Martin Truex Jr. is the best choice for Group A. If you have any allocations left with Truex you need to put him in your lineup. We have not seen a driver dominate the 1.5-mile tracks like this since Jeff Gordon did it in 1998.
Who do we pair with Truex this week?
Kyle Busch is the best choice because he has been so good at qualifying but I decided to go with Kevin Harvick because his stats at Kansas are outstanding and the No. 4 team has been the best car on the 1.5-mile tracks in the playoffs. I have 2 allocations left with Truex. If Harvick looks as good at Kansas in practice as he did at Charlotte, I will use Harvick for the race and save my last 2 allocations with Truex for Texas and Homestead. If Harvick looks slow, I will use Truex in the race and sleep like a baby.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Martin Truex Jr., 2) Kevin Harvick, 3) Kyle Busch, 4) Jimmie Johnson, 5) Brad Keselowski, 6) Matt Kenseth, 7) Joey Logano, 8) Denny Hamlin, 9) Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. (2) has to be the favorite to win Sunday. He won the last race at Kansas and has been the most dominant driver on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. The No. 78 car has won 5 of the 9 races on the 1.5-mile tracks and has led 932 laps. That is flat out whipping the field. Truex does not need to win the race Sunday since he is already locked into the Round of 8. That makes him even more dangerous. The team can gamble to try and win the race while others may have to play it safe. Truex is my pick to go to Victory Lane at Kansas.
Kevin Harvick (6) is the second-best pick in the field according to my model. Harvick ranks #1 on 1.5-mile tracks since the playoffs started, has the #1 driver ranking at Kansas the last two seasons, #3 in momentum, and #4 in average running position in the playoffs. Harvick has not finished outside the top 3 at Kansas since 2015. The No. 4 recently found a lot of speed so I expect Harvick to be in the top 5 this week.
Here are my allocations left with the drivers in Group A: Kyle Busch (1), Martin Truex Jr. (2), Brad Keselowski (2), Kevin Harvick (6), Joey Logano (6), Denny Hamlin (7), Jimmie Johnson (8), Matt Kenseth (9), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9)
Yahoo Group B Picks
Group B is going to be difficult this week. The four best choices are Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. I am out of allocations with Blaney and Busch and I only have one allocation left with Larson. I recommend using these drivers if you have any allocations left with them. They are very good on the 1.5-mile tracks and they are running well right now.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Larson, 2) Chase Elliott, 3) Ryan Blaney 4) Kurt Busch, 5) Jamie McMurray, 6) Austin Dillon, 7) Kasey Kahne, 8) Clint Bowyer, 9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10) Ryan Newman
Chase Elliott (2) has been on fire at the 1.5-mile tracks in the playoffs. He finished 2nd at Chicago and 2nd at Charlotte. Before the playoffs began I mapped out my allocations for the rest of the season. I did not have Elliott on the team this week but I made a change because he is running too well to ignore right now. Elliott does not have great stats at Kansas so we will have to watch him in practice. If the No. 24 car has as much speed this week as they had at the last two 1.5-mile tracks, Elliott will certainly be in my lineup Sunday.
Jamie McMurray (1) considers Kansas his home track but the Joplin, Missouri native has not had much luck in the Heartland. McMurray only has 1 finish in the top 10 in the last 8 races at Kansas. The good news is that his top-10 finished happened in May. McMurray is in my lineup because of the recent strength of the Chip Ganassi Racing team. McMurray finished 10th at Chicago and 5th at Charlotte. I think he will add another top 10 finish at Kansas.
Austin Dillon (4) is not a great pick this week but he is the best option I have left. Kansas is the best 1.5-mile track for Dillon. He finished 2 of the last 3 races at the track in the top 6. Dillon finished 16th at Chicago and 16th at Charlotte. He has the 14th best average running position on 1.5-mile tracks this season and he had the 10th best average running position in the last race at Kansas. Dillon should finish inside the top 15 Sunday and that is good enough for a Group B pick this late in the season.
Kasey Kahne (8) gets the final spot on my team. I thought about using Clint Bowyer or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the last spot on my team. I decided to go with Kahne because of his stats at Kansas and his recent stats on the 1.5-mile tracks. Kahne has an average finishing position of 10.7 in his last 10 races at the track. Kansas ranks as his 2nd best track over the last 3 seasons. Kahne finished 9th at Charlotte and he two tracks are similar in size and shape. If the No. 5 car looks fast in practice I will use him in the race.
Here are the allocations I have left in Group B: Ryan Blaney (0), Kurt Busch (0), Jamie McMurray (1) , Kyle Larson (1), Chase Elliott (2), Clint Bowyer (3), Austin Dillon (5), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5), Ryan Newman (6), AJ Allmendinger (7), Kasey Kahne (8) and all the rest 9.
Yahoo Group C Picks
If there was any way to buy extra allocations in Group C I certainly wood this week. I am down to 1 allocation with Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon. Luckily there are only 5 races left.
I am planning to use Daniel Suarez in the race this week and I will pair him with Ty Dillon. If Dillon looks fast in practice I will use him for the race and save my last allocation with Suarez for Homestead. If Dillon qualifies outside the top 25, I will go ahead and use Suarez and save Dillon for another race. Erik Jones spun out three times in the May race at Kansas and it is obvious he does not like this track, so I will save him for other tracks.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Daniel Suarez, 2) Erik Jones, 3) Ty Dillon, 4) Michael McDowell
Daniel Suarez (1) ran very well in his first race at Kansas. He qualified 15th and finished 7th. Suarez had the 9th best average running position in the race and he ranks 12th on 1.5-mile tracks this season. Suarez finished 12th at Chicago and 6th at Charlotte. His No. 19 car has been fast. I expect a top-10 finish from Suarez this week.
Ty Dillon (1) has competed in two races in the MENCS at Kansas. He finished 26th in his 1st race and 14th in the race last May. Dillon spun out halfway through the May race and still battled back for a top-15 finish. That is pretty impressive. I do not expect much from Dillon but if he looks like he can finish inside the top 20, I will use him in the race and save my last allocation with Suarez.
Here are the allocations I have left in Group C: Erik Jones (1), Ty Dillon (1), Daniel Suarez (1), Michael McDowell (3), David Ragan (8) and the rest with 9 allocations.
Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Team
Group A: Martin Truex Jr. (2), Kevin Harvick (6)
Group B: Chase Elliott (2), Jamie McMurray (1), Austin Dillon (5), Kasey Kahne (8)
Group C: Daniel Suarez (1), Ty Dillon (1)
I will post my final picks for Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Saturday after final practice.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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