We’re at Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the 17th race of the season and the start of three straight races at 1.5-mile “cookie cutter” race tracks. If you like to analyze previous races on similar tracks, the other 1.5-milers that we’ve raced at this year are Las Vegas, Charlotte (twice), Atlanta, and Homestead. The most similar to Kentucky of those four tracks is Las Vegas, and the Cup cars are running the same tires here this weekend that they did in Sin City back in February.
Joey Logano pulled a front row starting spot for the second week in a row, but he’ll be on the outside pole this time, as Kyle Busch drew the pole for Sunday’s Quaker State 400. Rowdy is a two-time winner at Kentucky but has no wins thus far in 2020. Could this finally be the week he breaks through for a victory? You can click here for the full starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Kentucky.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy forf cd the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Kentucky
Kevin Harvick ($13,000) – I’m going with a safe pick here in Kevin Harvick but I must say that Chase Elliott ($12,500) is enticing with his 8th-place starting spot and the fact that he’s had the best Green Flag Speed on the 1.5-mile tracks this season (as well as on all tracks). Both are great options, but I think Harvick has a better chance of getting Stage wins and the Slingshot bonus points for leading the most laps, so I’m leaning him. Here at Kentucky, Harvick has no wins and surprisingly only one top 5 finish in nine career starts, but on the 1.5-mile tracks this year he’s had the 3rd-best Green Flag Speed and this #4 team is firing on all cylinders right now with three straight finishes of 1st or 2nd. Both are great picks but I’m leaning a little more toward Harvick for Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($10,900) – Ryan Blaney is honestly one of my favorite Fantasy NASCAR picks in general this weekend. One, the #12 Ford has been crazy fast on the 1.5-mile tracks this year, with an average Green Flag Speed ranking of 4.6 through the five races (which is 2nd-best only to Chase Elliott). Additionally, Blaney now has Todd Gordon on the pit box, who always gave Joey Logano a very competitive race car here at Kentucky in the past. The third reason I like Blaney on Sunday is because he starts 12th, which means there’s pretty good room for him to move up and get place differential points, but he starts high enough he can easily get Stage points. And finally, I love Blaney on Sunday because Las Vegas is the most similar track to Kentucky that we’ve raced at this year, they’re using the same tire combination from that race, and the #12 Ford would have been in victory lane in Sin City if it wasn’t for a late caution. Here at Kentucky, Blaney has finished 13th, 2nd, and 10th over the last three races.
William Byron ($9,800) – You could easily go Erik Jones ($10,300) with this spot in the lineup, but after another wreck at Indianapolis, my confidence in him is even lower. With that being said, Jones has never finished worse than 7th here at Kentucky in his Cup Series career, and could easily post a top 10 finish on Sunday. But as far as my fantasy team goes, I’m probably going to roll with the safer option here of William Byron. What I like most about Byron this weekend is how his Green Flag Speed ranking on the 1.5-mile tracks ranks 5th-best in the series, with an average rank of 9.0. Unfortunately he’s kind of like Jones with not very good finishes, but Byron did finish 12th at Charlotte and 9th at Homestead. Momentum-wise, Byron has finished 12th or better in seven of the last nine Cup Series races overall, and he starts back in 21st on Sunday.
Christopher Bell ($9,100) – Death, taxes, and Christopher Bell having an awful draw in qualifying. This now makes it five races in a row that have had random draw qualifying that Christopher Bell will start between 34th and 36th. Just incredibly bad luck. However, that makes him an awesome pick in Fantasy NASCAR leagues that award points for place differential, and here with the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, his $9,100 salary makes him a lock for me. As far as this season goes on the 1.5-mile tracks, Christopher Bell finished 33rd at Las Vegas but in the four races since then he hasn’t wound up worse than 21st. He also has two top 10s, on at Charlotte and one at Homestead.
Michael McDowell ($6,700) – I’m not expecting much out of Michael McDowell this weekend, but he starts back in 30th so as long as he doesn’t wreck, he should put up a decent score in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest on Sunday. Here at Kentucky, McDowell has finished between 23rd and 25th over the last three races, and he also has top 20 finishes–19th at Charlotte and 15th at Homestead–this year on other 1.5-mile tracks. Additionally, if you haven’t been paying attention, McDowell is pretty much out-performing expectations every week right now, with six finishes of 18th or better in the last eight races and an average finish of 19.4 for the entire season.