The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Sparta, Kentucky this week for the Quaker State 400.
Kentucky Speedway is the newest race track on the circuit. There have only been three races ran in the Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky, and each race has produced a different winner. Do not be surprised to see a new driver visiting Victory Lane Saturday night.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. started on the pole for the 2013 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky. He was running up front until he ran over the tire from Denny Hamlin’s car. There were 10 caution flags in the race for wrecks taking out many of the top drivers. Jimmie Johnson dominated the race and led 182 of the 267 laps, but Matt Kenseth won the race off of pit road on the final stop. Kenseth was the first to the checkered flag and won his fourth race of the season.
The beginning of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season was hard to predict. With so many changes made in the offseason to the chassis of the cars, it became difficult to predict the winners. That is no longer the case.
It is obvious that Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Penske Racing have a big advantage over the competition on race tracks requiring down force. Drivers from these teams will be great selections for your fantasy team this week.
Racing for the Win
1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has to be the favorite this week. Although he has never won a race at Kentucky, Johnson won the last two races at intermediate race tracks. After getting off to a slow start this season, Johnson seems to have returned to the dominant driver he has been for the last decade. Johnson will make it four wins in the last six races Saturday night.
2. Kevin Harvick: Harvick is the easiest driver to predict in the field this week. He will show up with the fastest car, qualify up front, lead many laps in the race and finish second to a driver who does not deserve to win as much as he did during the race. That has been the theme for the last three races at intermediate race tracks, and there is no reason to believe things will change this week. This will be Harvick’s fourth consecutive second-place finish at an intermediate race track.
3. Jeff Gordon: Gordon has been the best driver this season on the intermediate race tracks. He has finished five of the six races in the top 10, including one win and a second-place finish. Gordon has a series-best 6.3 average finish this season on race tracks similar to Kentucky. He is almost a lock to run up front Saturday night.
4. Joey Logano: Logano is a great pick for your team this week. He has finished half of the races on the intermediate race tracks this season in the top five and four in the top 10. Logano finished fourth in this race last season and should finish near the same position this season.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Earnhardt had a great car for this race last season. He qualified on the pole and ran up front until he had damage on his car from Denny Hamlin’s wreck. He was able to recover from the damage and finish No. 12. Earnhardt has been good on this type of race track this season and will finish much higher than last season.
6. Kasey Kahne: Kahne is a risky pick this week. He finished two of the last three races at intermediate race tracks in the top five, so he may be worth a gamble on Saturday night. Kahne has the second-best average finishing position at Kentucky and the seventh-best driver rating. Do not forget about Kahne when choosing your drivers this week.
7. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has had an up and down season at the intermediate race tracks. He won the first race at Las Vegas, went the next three races without a top-10 finish and finished the last two races in the top 10. The Blue Deuce seems to have figured out the intermediate race tracks. Keselowski competed in the tire test at Kentucky. He is a great pick to win the pole and finish in the top 10 this week.
8. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has the second-best average finishing position in the six races at the intermediate race tracks this season and a series-best average finishing position at Kentucky. The stats suggest that Kenseth should have a good race this week.
9. Paul Menard: It is time for people to start recognizing that the No. 27 team is one of the teams to beat at the intermediate race tracks this season. Menard has finished five of the six races on intermediate race tracks in the top 10, including two top-five finishes. Menard is a great pick for your team at Kentucky.
10. Brian Vickers: Vickers has run well this season on the intermediate race tracks—if you exclude his unfortunate wreck at Michigan. He has finished half of the races in the top 10, including a top-five finish at Texas. Vickers competed in the tire test at Kentucky, and that should give him an advantage over the competition this week.
11. Kyle Larson: Although Larson is a rookie, he has proven to be one of the best drivers at the intermediate race tracks this season. Larson has finished half of the races on this type of race track in the top 10. He has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky, but Larson finished seventh in his first race at Kentucky in the Nationwide Series. He will run near the top 10 this week.
12. Carl Edwards: Edwards has momentum heading into Kentucky after winning the race at Sonoma. He started off the season finishing four of the first five races on the intermediate race tracks in the top 10. His performance at Michigan was poor to say the least. Edwards qualified No. 22 and spent most of the day running outside the top 20. The No. 99 team needs to find some speed to run in the top 10.
13. Kurt Busch: Busch will be one of the drivers to watch this week. He has finished two of the three races at Kentucky in the top 10. Stewart-Haas Racing has consistently brought fast race cars to the intermediate tracks this season. Busch will be fast this week and finish near the top 10.
14. Kyle Busch: Busch should be much higher on this list. He has the second-best driver rating and the fifth-best average finishing position at Kentucky. The No. 18 team is having problems in the pits, and it seems to be taking away from Busch’s focus. He could easily dominate this race Saturday night, but it is more likely that he will finish outside the top 10.
15. Tony Stewart: Stewart is an interesting pick this week. He has never finished in the top 10 at Kentucky, but the team is gaining momentum now that the calendar has hit the summer months. Stewart will run in the top 15 this week.
16. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has run well at Kentucky in his career. He has the fourth-best driver rating and the ninth-best average finishing position at Kentucky. Bowyer has struggled this season, but the No. 15 team seemed to find some speed at Michigan. Bowyer will need to bring the speed he had at Michigan to the race at Kentucky.
17. Ryan Newman: Newman has only finished one race this season at the intermediate race tracks in the top 10—in March at Las Vegas. He has a streak of four races on intermediate race tracks finishing outside the top 10. He will just miss a top-15 finish this week.
18. Jamie McMurray: McMurray is a good sleeper pick this week. He has had some success this season on the intermediate race tracks. McMurray finished sixth at California and fifth at Charlotte. He could sneak into the top 10, but I think a top-20 finish is more realistic.
19. Austin Dillon: Dillon competed in this Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky last season. He started No. 26 and finished No. 24. He has an average finishing position of 18.8 on the intermediate race tracks this season, so I expect Dillon to finish higher than he did last year.
20. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has not finished in the top 10 on an intermediate race track this season. It is unlikely he will finish in the top 10 Saturday night. Keep Hamlin off your team for one more week. He will be the favorite to win the next race at Daytona.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has finished two of his three races at Kentucky in the top 10. His finishes came while driving for Michael Waltrip Racing. He has not been able to have the same results with Furniture Row Racing. Truex will just miss out on a top-20 finish this week.
22. AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger has not been great in his career at Kentucky. His average starting position is 19.7, and his average finishing position is 18.7. Expect Allmendinger to just miss out on a top-20 finish Saturday night.
23. Danica Patrick: Patrick is starting to figure out how to get around the intermediate race tracks and should be considered for fantasy NASCAR teams. Stewart-Haas Racing has consistently provided Patrick fast race cars, and she usually qualifies well. She is starting to be able to keep her car in the top 20.
24. Greg Biffle: Biffle has not been very good at Kentucky, and his No. 16 Ford has been lacking speed. That is not a combination you want for your fantasy team. Do not expect much more than a top-25 finish from Biffle this week.
25. Justin Allgaier: Allgaier has never competed in a Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky, but he does have more experience at the race track than most of his competitors this week. Allgaier has competed in seven races in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky and has an average finishing position of 10.7. He would be a good value pick for your team this week.
26. Aric Almirola: Almirola has had some success on the intermediate race tracks this season (No. 8 finish at Kansas), but he is too inconsistent to select for your fantasy team. Look for another driver this week.
27. Casey Mears: Mears has only finished one race this season on the intermediate racetracks in the top 20 (No. 15 finish at California). He will not finish inside the top 20 this week.
28. Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has really struggled this season on the intermediate race tracks. He has not finished any races inside the top 20. His average finishing position is 25.3. Ambrose will finish outside the top 25 Saturday night.
29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has not shown any speed on the intermediate race tracks this season. He has one finish inside the top 25 (No. 22 finish at Kansas). Roush Fenway Racing needs to find some horsepower before Stenhouse can be considered for fantasy teams.
30. Michael Annett: Annett has been a good value pick this season on the intermediate race tracks. He has finished all of the races inside the top 30 and two of the races inside the top 25. He would be a good pick for Fantasy Live on Saturday night.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Kevin Harvick, Jimmy Johnson
Group B: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard
Group C: Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon
Fantasy Live Picks
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Michael Annnett, Reed Sorenson
Fox Fantasy NASCAR Picks
Captain: Jimmie Johnson
Driver 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Driver 3: Joey Logano
Driver 4: Brad Keselowski
Driver 5: Paul Menard
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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