NASCAR Picks for Kansas
Length: 1.500 miles
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
For the second week in a row and the third time in 2013, the Cup Series will visit a 1.5-mile track this weekend. Kansas Speedway will be the site of Sunday's STP 400, and the track is one of the newer additions to the schedule. Kansas didn't host its first Cup race until 2001, and 2013 will mark just the third year that the track will host two events in the same season. That being said, Kansas has already played host to some bizarre moments and been instrumental in shaping several of the championship battles during the Chase. Of course, this weekend's race won't have serious title implications for the drivers, but the same can't be said for fantasy owners.
On the plus side, back-to-back trips to 1.5-mile tracks should give drivers that are running well the chance to stay hot. As a result, fantasy owners may not have to retool their lineups as much prior to Sunday's race as they normally would. With races at Richmond, Talladega and Darlington on the horizon, Sunday's race could be the calm before the storm.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He leads all drivers with an 8.0 average finish at Kansas, and he has finished in the top 10 in 11 of his 13 starts. In fact, he has finished ninth or better in his last eight starts at Kansas. More importantly, Johnson has two wins and five finishes of third or better during the stretch.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
It's tough not to love Kenseth's recent numbers at Kansas. He has finished seventh or better in his last five starts at the track and has finished fourth or better in his last three. During the stretch, Kenseth has compiled a 4.5 average finish, and he went to Victory Lane at Kansas last fall.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Keselowski's 9.8 average finish at Kansas is the third best in the series, and in five of his six starts, he has cracked the top 15. He has actually finished 11th or better in his last four starts at Kansas, winning at the track in 2011 and posting a 5.7 average finish. Even before he was a fantasy stud on a regular basis, Keselowski was getting the job done at Kansas. There is no reason to expect that to change now that he is one of the elite drivers in the series.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although he has never won at Kansas, Edwards has been one of the most consistent drivers at the 1.5-mile track. In 11 starts, he has compiled a 10.8 average finish and has finished in the top 10 eight times. Six of those top-10s have come in his last eight starts at the track, and Edwards has posted a 7.3 average finish at Kansas during the stretch.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
With a 21.0 average finish in 11 starts at Kansas, his numbers don't exactly scream top-five option. However, Busch has been in a zone lately and enters this weekend's race with five straight top-five finishes. He has two wins during the hot streak, including his first-career win at Texas last weekend. Kansas shares a similar 1.5-mile layout to Texas, and even if he doesn't win, there is a good chance he will end his top-five drought at Kansas on Sunday.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Prior to a 27th-place finish at Kansas last fall, Biffle had finished 12th or better in 11 straight starts at the track. Even with the bad outing, he still ranks second in the series with a 9.5 average finish at Kansas. He is also a two-time winner at the track, and he leads all drivers with six finishes of third or better.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He is currently winless at Kansas, but you get the feeling that could be changing as early as this weekend. After all, Kahne has finished second eighth and fourth in his last three starts at the track, and he has always been one of the best in the series at the 1.5-mile tracks. Expect a strong run out of him Sunday.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Fresh off a second-place finish at Texas, Truex has quietly become one of the top fantasy options at 1.5-mile tracks the past two years. In fact, his 369 point scored in the past 10 races at similar tracks ranks third in the series. More importantly, he finished second in both the races at Kansas in 2012. Fantasy owners should get at least a top-10 out of him this weekend and maybe a lot more.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon has had a couple of bad finishes at Kansas in recent years, but there is no denying his ability to deliver elite finishes. He is a two-time winner at the track, and in 14 starts, he has finished in the top five eight times. His inconsistency hurts his value a bit, but his upside is as good as any driver's out there.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Despite having just a single top-five finish at Kansas, Harvick has been a reliable fantasy contributor at the track. He has finished 11-th or better in his last five starts at the track and seven of his last eight. Overall, Harvick has nine finishes of 11th or better in 15 starts, including five sixth-place finishes.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Bad luck the last couple of weeks has put an end to his hot start, but Junior has continued to have fast cars. Meanwhile, he has finished in the top 15 in his last three starts at Kansas, picking up a second and a seventh-place finish during the stretch. Junior could easily start a new streak of top-10 finishes this weekend.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His first start as Denny Hamlin's replacement was a good one, and now, Vickers heads to a Kansas race where the No. 11 team is the defending race winner. Vickers himself has finished in the top 20 in six of his seven starts at the track with other teams, and driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, he should be battling for a top-10 this weekend. Fantasy owners should continue to take advantage of Vickers' added seat time.