The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to the Blue Grass State for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Kentucky is the newest racetrack on the circuit, so there is not much history to use in determining the best fantasy drivers for your team. The two races at Kentucky Speedway have been dominated by five drivers: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. These drivers must be considered for each team this week.
Now that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is nearly halfway through the season, it is time to start factoring in the 2013 statistics along with a driver’s past history at the racetrack.
Kentucky Speedway is a tri-oval racetrack. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has raced at tri-oval racetracks five times this season (Fontana, Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and Charlotte). Each of these races has been dominated by the same drivers: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. I expect the same drivers to dominate the race Saturday night.
Here is my top 30 and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career statistics at Kentucky….
Racing for the Win
1. Kyle Busch won the inaugural race at Kentucky and finished No. 10 last season. He already has two wins this season (Fontana and Texas) on tri-oval racetracks. Busch is my pick to win the race on Saturday night.
2. Jimmie Johnson has won at almost every racetrack on the circuit, but Kentucky is not one of them. That could change Saturday night. Johnson has finished No. 3 and No. 6 at both of his starts at the racetrack. He won the pole for the race last year and has the best average finish on tri-oval racetracks this season.
3. Brad Keselowski won this race last year. He needs a victory to secure his place in the Chase and Saturday night’s race is one of his best chances. Keselowski finished his two races at Kentucky No. 7 and No. 1.
4. Matt Kenseth has finished all five races on tri-oval racetracks this season in the top 15. He won two of the races (Las Vegas and Kansas) and should be there at the end of the race Saturday night. Kenseth finished his two races at Kentucky No. 6 and No. 7. He has a better team this season.
5. Kasey Kahne always has a fast car on the tri-oval racetracks. He dominates the first half of the races, but seems to have a problem bringing home the victory. Kahne finished second at Las Vegas, Kansas and Charlotte. He will add another top-five finish this week.
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started seventh and finished fourth in the race at Kentucky. He has struggled in his last two starts on tri-oval racetracks (No. 39 Charlotte and No. 29 Texas). Both of those races Earnhardt had a top-10 driver rating, but had problems with his car. I will not hold that against him.
7. Denny Hamlin started third and finished third in the last race at Kentucky. He has missed most of the races this season on tri-oval racetracks, but he did win the pole and finish No. 4 at Charlotte.
8. Kevin Harvick is the most underrated driver in NASCAR. He does not get the hype of other drivers, but he two wins this season. Don’t be surprised if Harvick sneaks into Victory Lane again this week. He won the last race on a tri-oval racetrack at Charlotte.
9. Carl Edwards has been very good on the tri-oval racetracks this season. He has finished four of the five races in the top 11. Edwards will finish in the top 10 again Saturday night.
10. Jeff Gordon needs a win at Kentucky in order for him to have a victory at every racetrack on the circuit. That should be motivation for the No. 24 team to have a good run Saturday night. He finished both of his races at Kentucky in the top 10.
11. Martin Truex Jr. is at his best on the tri-oval racetracks. He has finished in the top 10 in four of the five races on tri-oval racetracks this season. He finished No. 8 at Kentucky last season and will just miss another top-10 finish this week.
12. Tony Stewart has struggled on the tri-ovals this year. That was the Stewart of the spring. Summer Stewart is heating up. Overlook the statistics for Stewart this week and pencil him in for a top-15 finish Saturday night.
Who will win the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky?
13. Joey Logano is another driver who is overlooked throughout the season. He has three top-five finishes on tri-oval racetracks this season. His experience at Kentucky in the Nationwide Series will help him this week in the Sprint Cup Series. Logano will easily finish in the top 15.
14. Greg Biffle is much better on the larger two mile racetracks than he is on the 1.5-mile tri-oval racetracks. He will have a good enough car to crack the top 15, but do not expect much more than that.
15. Kurt Busch needs some luck to go his way this year. He often shows up with a fast car, but seldom does he bring the car home in the top five. I expect Busch to compete for the pole, run well at the start of the race and fade to No. 15 when the checkered flag is waived.
16. Brian Vickers will be in the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing this week. Vickers usually performs well in the car, but the team has struggled on the tri-oval racetracks this year. Vickers is worth a gamble, but do not expect much more than a top 20 finish this week.
17. Clint Bowyer has run well this season, but not on the tri-oval racetracks. He finished No. 27 at Las Vegas, No. 35 at Fontana and No. 15 at Texas. He has never finished inside the top 15 at Kentucky. He will just miss out again this week.
18. Paul Menard never dominates any races, but he always finishes inside the top 20. His average finishing position on the tri-oval racetracks this season is 11.8. Menard is not running as well as he did early in the season. He will finish just inside the top 20 Saturday night.
19. Ryan Newman is a hard driver to predict. Newman could easily finish in the top five for the third time this season, or he could finish outside the top 20 for the fifth time. I see Newman finishing inside the top 20 this week.
20. Juan Pablo Montoya is going to win a race on an oval racetrack, but it will not be Saturday night. Montoya has been average at Kentucky. He finished No. 15 and No. 14 in his two races at the racetrack.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has more experience at Kentucky than most of the drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He finished three of the four races in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky in the top 10. He will use his experience at Kentucky to finish just outside the top 20.
22. Marcos Ambrose is much better making left and right turns than he is turning left all day. Last time I checked Kentucky is not a road-course. Save Ambrose for the road-courses.
23. Aric Almirola does not have much experience at Kentucky. He only started one race and finished No. 26. He will finish just inside the top 25 this week.
24. Jeff Burton has been making improvements this season. I still do not see the No. 31 team finishing much higher than a top 25 finish Saturday night.
25. A.J. Allmendinger will be driving the No. 47 Toyota this week for JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger has started six races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. He finished five of those races inside the top 20. He is a good sleeper pick this week.
26. Casey Mears has been consistent this season. The No. 13 team never runs in the top 10, but always runs between No. 20. and No. 30. Mears will finish in the middle of the pack again Saturday night.
27. Danica Patrick has two starts in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky. She finished No. 12 and No. 14 in those races. The better competition this week will place her just inside the top 30.
28. Austin Dillon will drive the No. 51 Chevy for Phoenix Racing this week. Dillon is worth a gamble as a Group C driver in Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing, but do not expect a top 20 finish from him.
29. David Reutimann has had success at Kentucky in his two races. He finished No. 2 in his first race and No. 23 last season. He will not have Michael Waltrip Racing equipment powering him this week.
30. David Ragan has the talent to run well at Kentucky, but not the car. Ragan will have another poor run Saturday night.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski
Group B: Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr.
Group C: Ricky Stenhouse, A.J. Allmendinger
Fantasy Live Picks
Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook