The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Kansas City, Kansas, this week for the 5-Hour Energy 400. The race will be a Saturday night special under the lights. Kansas Speedway has always produced action-packed racing, but the night racing may be the best fans have ever seen at the race track.
Kevin Harvick dominated the last race at Kansas. Harvick started the Hollywood Casino 400 on the pole and led a series-high 138 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Joey Logano also had a good race. He started fifth, led the third-most laps and finished fourth. Both drivers should be strong candidates for a win Saturday night.
The strategy for selecting the winning combination this week should be to analyze the results from the three races at intermediate race tracks this season (Las Vegas, California and Texas). The only exception would be for Kyle Busch.
Busch has a series-best average finishing position at the three intermediate race tracks this season, but if he is Superman, Kansas Speedway is his kryptonite. He has not finished inside the top 30 at Kansas in the last three races. Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards are the safest picks in the field this week.
Racing for the Win
1. Matt Kenseth: This should be the week Kenseth punches his ticket for the Chase. Kenseth won this race last season, and he has the second-best average finishing position on the intermediate race tracks this season. Kenseth has won twice at Kansas and should be the favorite under the lights this week.
2. Jeff Gordon: Gordon has done everything but win a race this season. He won the first two races at Kansas but has not been to Victory Lane at the race track since. Gordon had the car to beat at the last race at an intermediate race track. Gordon started 12th and finished second at Texas. Expect the same results from the No. 24 team this week.
3. Joey Logano: Logano was nicknamed “Sliced Bread” as a rookie. Finally, he is starting to live up to the nickname. Logano already has two wins this season and could add a third Saturday night. Logano won the last race at an intermediate race track and finished fourth at Las Vegas. He will be one of the drivers to beat at Kansas.
4. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been fast at every race track this season. He has already won one race at an intermediate race track this season (Las Vegas), and he won at Kansas in 2011. Keselowski has finished four of the eight races he started at Kansas in the top 10. He will be up front again this week.
5. Kevin Harvick: Harvick dominated the last race at Kansas. He started on the pole and led 138 laps on his way to Victory Lane. It looks like his mechanical issues may finally be behind him. Harvick is a safe pick for a top-five finish Saturday.
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Earnhardt had a horrible race at the last intermediate race track. He started 19th and finished last after he tried to drive his car through the wet grass. Look for Earnhardt to bounce back this week with another strong finish at Kansas. Earnhardt has the fifth-best driver rating in the last four races at the race track.
7. Carl Edwards: Kansas Speedway is Edward's home race track, but he has yet to find his way to Victory Lane. That does not mean Edwards is not worth selecting for your team this week. Edwards has finished nine of his 13 races at the race track in the top 10. He should make it 10 for 14 Saturday night.
8. Jimmie Johnson: Will Johnson ever find his way to Victory Lane this season? The answer is probably yes, and it could happen this week. Johnson has the second-best average finishing position and the second-best driver rating in the last four races at Kansas. Johnson will easily finish in the top 10 this week.
9. Paul Menard: Menard is my sleeper pick this week. The Richard Childress Racing cars have figured out the intermediate race tracks this season. Menard has finished all three races at the intermediate race tracks inside the top 10. He also has a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes at Kansas. He is a great pick for your team this week.
10. Greg Biffle: Biffle started out the season looking lost at the intermediate race tracks. After finishing 22nd at Las Vegas and 40th at California, Biffle figured things out at Texas with a sixth-place finish. Kansas is one of Biffle's better race tracks. He has two wins and has finished nine of his 15 races inside the top 10.
11. Kyle Larson: Do not overlook Larson this week. He has really adapted to the intermediate race tracks. After finishing 19th at Las Vegas, Larson finished second at California and fifth at Texas. Do not be surprised to see him run up front in his first race at Kansas.
12. Tony Stewart: Stewart has two wins at Kansas and has finished nine of his 15 starts in the top 10. Stewart has finished two of the three races this season at the intermediate race tracks in the top 10. He will come close finishing in the top 10 this week.
13. Brian Vickers: Vickers has run well this year on the intermediate race tracks. His worst finish this season on this type of track is 13th at Las Vegas. He may not be as good as his fourth-place finish at Texas, but he will easily finish inside the top 15 this week.
14. Martin Truex Jr.: Kansas Speedway is one of Truex's best race tracks. He has finished three of the last four races at Kansas inside the top five. He is normally an automatic pick for your team when the series visits Kansas, but Truex has struggled this season. If you are feeling lucky, he is worth a gamble.
15. Kasey Kahne: Kahne has the fourth-best average finishing position and the sixth-best driver rating in the last four races at Kansas. He has only finished one of the last six races at the race track outside the top 10. He is too inconsistent this year to be selected for a top-10 finish, but if it were to happen, do not be surprised.
16. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is a Kansas native and is always a fan favorite at the race track. Bowyer has not found his way to Victory Lane at Kansas, but he has finished eight of his 11 races inside the top 15. He will easily finish inside the top 20 this week.
17. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won the 2012 spring race at Kansas, but he has not been very good in his last four races at the race track. The last time Hamlin finished inside the top 10 at Kansas was in the fall race of 2009. There are better race tracks to use Hamlin for your team.
18. Ryan Newman: Newman started out his career with three consecutive top-two finishes at Kansas, but he only has one top-10 finish in the last 13 races. Newman's average finishing position on the intermediate race tracks this season is 14.3. Newman will finish in the top 20, but do not expect much more from him.
19. Jamie McMurray: McMurray ran well in this race last season. He started 14th and finished seventh. His average finishing position at Kansas is 18.6. He should finish near his average this week.
20. Kyle Busch: Stay away from Busch this week. For some reason he has horrible luck at Kansas. This is by far his worst race track, and it is not even close. Busch has not finished inside the top 10 at Kansas since 2006. Although he has the best average finishing position at the intermediate race tracks this season, he is not worth the gamble this week.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Kurt Busch: Busch has had some success at Kansas, but he has not been consistent enough to select for your team this week. His average finishing position at the race track is 16.9. He finished 26th at Las Vegas and 39th at Texas. Those race tracks are similar to what he will experience Saturday night. Save Busch for later in the season.
22. AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger is starting to find more success with his new race team. After starting the season without a top-15 finish in his first four races, Allmendinger has finished five of the last six races in the top 15. He would be a good value pick this week for Fantasy Live.
23. Austin Dillon: Dillon's first race in the Sprint Cup Series came at Kansas. He started 26th and finished 26th. He has more experience now, but do not expect much more than a top-25 finish from Dillon this week.
24. Aric Almirola: The cars from Richard Petty Motorsports have been much better on the shorter race tracks then they have been on the larger race tracks. Almirola has an average finishing position of 26.6 on the intermediate race tracks. Save Almirola for the short race tracks.
25. Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has not been much better than his teammate Aric Almirola this season at the intermediate race tracks. His average finishing position is 24.6 in the three races. Do not plan on using Ambrose again for your team until the race at Sonoma in June.
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has usually been good at the intermediate race tracks, but that has not been the case this season. Stenhouse finished 27th at Las Vegas, 34th at California and 26th at Texas. Those are not the stats you want for your team this week.
27. Casey Mears: Mears has been good for a value pick this season at the intermediate race tracks, but if you select him, do not expect him to finish near the front. His average finishing position at the intermediate race tracks this season is 23.6. Mears would be a good selection for Fantasy Live this week.
28. Michael Annett: Annett has never competed in a Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas. In his five starts in the Nationwide Series at Kansas, Annett has an average starting position of 18.4 and an average finishing position of 16.4. He may not perform that well this week, but he should easily finish inside the top 30.
29. Justin Allgaier: There is nothing special about Allgaier this week. He has only competed in one race in the Sprint Cup Series at Kansas. He started 21st and finished 39th after being involved in a crash. Do not expect much more than a top-30 finish from Allgaier this week.
30. Danica Patrick: Patrick has competed in three races at Kansas. Her average starting position is 31.1, and her average finishing position is 33.3. She has been involved in crashes in two of the three races. There are better drivers for your team this week.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon
Group B: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard
Group C: Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon
Fantasy Live Picks
Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, AJ Allmendinger, Michael Annett
Fox Fantasy NASCAR Picks
Captain: Matt Kenseth
Driver 2: Joey Logano
Driver 3: Carl Edwards
Driver 4: Paul Menard
Driver 5: Kyle Larson
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