Round 3 of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs starts this weekend with the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. We’ve already raced here once this season, and it was Denny Hamlin that went to victory lane after starting 10th and leading 57 of the 267 laps. Hamlin then turned around and led 121 of the 268 laps at Las Vegas last month, which is the last 1.5-mile track we visited. Kansas, likewise, is a 1.5-mile venue and is in the category of “low wear” when it comes to venues of that length. We’ve had many races on this track type this season (seven to be exact) and we’ll get to all of that a little further down in this post.
Tire-wise, Goodyear is bringing the D-4942 tire for the left sides this weekend, which is the same one that was used in the first Kansas race this season, and it was also used in both Charlotte races. One thing to note, though: all three of those races were ran at night. On the right side, Goodyear is bringing D-4986, which is the tire that was just used at Las Vegas last month, but that is the only race it has been used this season. Once again, that was race at night.
Kevin Harvick is on the pole for Sunday night’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and if you need to see the full starting lineup, you can do so by clicking here. Now let’s gooo!!
Speed Report in 2020 After Las Vegas 2
I don’t include superspeedways or road courses in the Green Flag Speed Cheat Sheet, so if you follow along weekly, that’s why the rankings here look the same as my post for the ROVAL last weekend.
Over the last six races here are the fastest drivers in terms of Green Flag Speed:
- Kevin Harvick (3.0 average rank)
- Chase Elliott (4.0 average rank)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (6.7 average rank)
- Joey Logano (7.2 average rank)
- Kyle Busch (8.5 average rank)
You can click here to check out the updated Cheat Sheet on Green Flag Speed and see how every driver ranks in that category plus more, not only for the last six races but for the whole season.
One more thing we can look at is which drivers have had the best Green Flag Speed on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season. Those that have been the fastest on this track type in 2020 are:
- Ryan Blaney (3.9 average rank)
- Joey Logano (6.0 average rank)
- Chase Elliott (7.0 average rank)
- Kevin Harvick (8.6 average rank)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (9.3 average rank)
DraftKings Strategy for Kansas 2
There’s a lot to go over here, so buckle up.
Kansas Speedway is what is referred to as a low-wear 1.5-mile track. Basically that title encompasses all of the 1.5-milers with the exception of Atlanta and Homestead, since those two tracks eat up tires like nobody’s business. Other races that have been ran at low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season are:
- Las Vegas in February (won by Joey Logano)
- Charlotte (won by Brad Keselowski) **night race**
- Charlotte 2 (won by Chase Elliott) **night race**
- Kentucky (won by Cole Custer)
- Texas (won by Austin Dillon)
- Kansas (won by Denny Hamlin) **night race**
- Las Vegas in September (won by Kurt Busch) **night race**
You should notice a two things with that list: one, the majority of these races were ran at night, and, two, we have yet to have a repeat winner on this track type in 2020. The Kentucky and Texas races are the most recent non-night races, but those two were ran in the middle of summer with the track hot and slick. The closest race, at least when it comes to start time and temperature, this season would be the first Las Vegas race but that was way back in February. A lot has changed since then.
With that being said, we have to make do with the data that we actually have. You can dip back into old Kansas data but I personally prefer relying more on this year’s data from 1.5-mile tracks. And if you like looking at this data as well, I have put together some charts for you summarizing this data. First up is the averages for drivers on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season, and the second chart shows the averages for drivers on all 1.5-mile tracks. Both charts are, by default, sorted by average DraftKings points per race, but you can click on the column headers to sort by average finish, average DraftKings dominator points, average starting position, average number of fastest laps, or average laps led.
Driver DraftKings Statistics on Low-Wear 1.5-Mile Tracks in 2020
|Driver||Avg. Finish||Avg. DraftKings Pts||Avg. DK Dominator Pts||Avg. Start||Avg. Fastest Laps||Avg. Laps Led|
|Martin Truex Jr||10.57||51.00||21.92||08.57||24.57||29.14|
|John H. Nemechek||21.57||25.54||01.21||23.43||02.43||00.14|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||23.14||21.46||02.21||21.71||01.86||04.43|
Driver DraftKings Statistics on All 1.5-Mile Tracks in 2020
|Driver||Avg. Finish||Avg. DraftKings Pts||Avg. DK Dominator Pts||Avg. Start||Avg. Fastest Laps||Avg. Laps Led|
|Martin Truex Jr||09.89||52.86||20.08||08.56||25.22||29.89|
|John H. Nemechek||21.44||24.31||00.97||22.22||01.89||00.11|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||21.67||23.97||01.86||21.44||02.00||03.44|
Moving on… a major question on everyone’s mind for this race is what to do with the pole sitter. Without qualifying this season, picking the driver starting 1st has suddenly become almost like a game of Russian Roulette in the Fantasy NASCAR world. This weekend, it’s Chase Elliott ($11,200) on the pole, and he’s also the highest-priced driver on the slate.
Overall, the pole sitters on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season haven’t faired well. Kyle Busch led zero laps at Las Vegas in February. Kurt Busch led 54 laps in the first Charlotte race and then William Byron led just 11 in the second. At Kentucky, Kyle Busch led 9 laps from the pole. Aric Almirola led just 35 laps at Texas. In the first Kansas race, Kevin Harvick led just 9 laps. And then, most recently, Harvick led zero laps in the second Las Vegas race. And as you can tell, it’s not like these are fluke drivers starting up front and that’s why they’re not leading. It’s just been a weird year.
Now let’s look at pole sitters here at Kansas. Kevin Harvick sat on the pole earlier this year (as mentioned before) and led just 9 laps, and then Daniel Hemric led just 4 laps in the fall race here last season. In the seven Kansas races prior to those two anomalies, though, the pole sitter has been a lock to lead a good portion of the race here. In each of those seven races, the driver starting 1st has led at least 79 laps, and in four of the seven, the pole sitter has topped 100 laps led.
Additionally, when you look at Chase Elliott on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season, he’s led at least 28 laps in four of the seven races, and 70+ laps in two of those four. He’s averaging 29.9 laps led per race on this track type in 2020, which is 3rd-best in the series. The last time we had a race at a 1.5-mile track, I was all aboard the “be underweight on pole sitter Harvick” train, and it paid off. But this weekend I’m not getting that same feeling with Chase. Additionally, his high DraftKings salary should limit his ownership a bit. Elliott is averaging the 3rd-most DraftKings dominator points on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season. It’s hard to imagine him not putting up another good number in that category here on Sunday. Don’t forget, he had the best car at Las Vegas earlier this year by a wide margin before his mechanical issue.
In total, we’re looking at just around 180 DraftKings dominator FPTS up for grabs on sunday–66.75 for laps led, and around 115 for fastest laps.
You’re going to need to nail the main dominator (or two) when it comes to Sunday’s race, but the rest of the lineup is all about guys finishing up front–and that will likely be determined by the final restart. We’ve seen it happen time and time again on 1.5-mile tracks this season, there’s no reason to think that that will change now.
GPP / Tournament Picks I Love for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
Ryan Blaney ($9,700) – Four of the last five Kansas races have ended with Ryan Blaney in 20th or worse position. Don’t let that scare you away, though. Blaney is a constant front runner at this track–he’s finished 8th or better in 12 of the last 14 Stages–but seems to have trouble not getting into the wall late, which is something he has done in the last three races here. Still, Blaney has the best Green Flag Speed (by a wide margin) on the low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this year, is averaging the most DraftKings FPTS per race, and also has one of the best average finishes. I also love the fact that Blaney has yet to record less than 11 fastest laps in a race on a low-wear 1.5-mile track. He’s averaging a series-best 28 per race on them this year.
Alex Bowman ($8,600) – At Las Vegas a few weeks ago, a few things were pretty clear: Denny Hamlin had a dominant car, and the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets of Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman had their early season speed back. Oh, and Alex Bowman made some of the dumbest on-track moves I’ve ever seen to let Hamlin get back to the lead. But anyway, I see no reason why the #88 Chevrolet won’t have that same speed here in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400. Bowman has a 2nd-place finish to his credit here last season and has wound up 9th or better in four of the last six races at this track. The other two? An 11th-place finish and an 18th. Looking at Green Flag Speed, Bowman ranks 6th on that chart when analyzing just the low-wear 1.5-mile tracks, and he’s also averaging the 3rd-most DraftKings dominator points on this track type in 2020.
Chris Buescher ($6,700) – Back at Las Vegas a few weeks ago, Chris Buescher was a GPP/tournament pick of mine, and I’m sticking with him here at Kansas as well. The #17 Ford has had plenty of speed on the low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this year, as Buescher has the 17th-best Green Flag Speed on them through the seven races. Additionally, he’s finished 14th or better in three of the seven races, and 22nd or better in all but one. Buescher will start from 21st here at Kansas on Sunday, and looking specifically at this track, he’s posted finishes of 16th or better in four of his last six starts, including two top 10s.
BONUS: Corey LaJoie ($5,400) – DraftKings has been under-pricing LaJoie at this track type all season long and they did it again this weekend even though he’s starting back in 29th. Through the seven races on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season, though, Corey is averaging 30.3 DraftKings points per race, which is 18th-best in the series, and an average finish of 21.6. Here at Kansas last July, he started back in 31st and finished 21st. What I really like most about LaJoie this week is his price, as having a driver priced at just $5,400 with top 20 potential (if there’s attrition) is an absolute steal, and also allows you to easily afford the top guys.
Cash Core Drivers I Love for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
Kyle Busch ($9,900) – Not only has Joe Gibbs Racing turned up the speed on the 1.5-mile tracks as the season has progressed, but they’ve also been super fast here at Kansas Speedway. So with Kyle Busch starting 20th on Sunday it was quite surprising to see him priced at only $9,900 on DraftKings this weekend, and not even just for the place differential potential; over the last three Kansas races, no driver is really even close to Rowdy when it comes to fastest laps–he has 92 while 2nd-best Kevin Harvick has 64–and don’t forget that this #18 Toyota was probably good enough to win here back in the July race. Busch has finished top 5 in seven of his last eleven starts at this track, and all but one of those eleven were finishes of 11th or better. He may be eliminated from the Playoffs but that doesn’t mean Kyle Busch won’t stop racing hard for wins.
Matt Kenseth ($6,600) – This pricing just doesn’t make any sense to me. Matt Kenseth is going to start back in 30th for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 and has the potential to come away with a teens finish. Looking at low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season, he’s finished 17th or 18th in three of his six starts, including a 17th-place finish in the first Kansas race this season. Kenseth overall average finish on this track type in 2020 is 21.3, which would equal around 32 DraftKings FPTS for him this weekend if he has a “normal” race.
John Hunter Nemechek ($6,100) – Again, I’m not sure what DraftKings was doing with the driver pricing for some of these “deep starters” this week, but all of us players are in the same boat. John Hunter Nemechek is probably the safest value option on the slate this weekend, as he starts back in 32nd but has at least top 25 potential on Sunday, if not top 20 if there is any attrition. Back here in July, Nemechek came home 19th after starting 30th, and he’s finished 24th or better in all but one of the seven races on 1.5-mile tracks this season. In four of the seven he’s finished between 13th and 20th.
Kansas Hollywood Casino 400 DraftKings Projections
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems. Also included are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||5||$11,000||67.7||03.7||44||30||$163|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||23||$7,400||32.3||18.5||0||1||$229|
|John H. Nemechek||32||$6,100||31.3||23.0||0||2||$195|