NASCAR Picks for Kansas
Length: 1.500 miles
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
The Cup Series heads back to Kansas Speedway this weekend for race No. 4 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Little has changed over the first three races of the playoffs as Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch continue a three-way fight for the top spot, while the gap back to fourth place stands at 39 points. If it wasn't already apparent following the regular season, the Chase has provided definitive proof that Kenseth, Johnson and Busch are the class of the Cup Series this season. For fantasy owners that are currently leading their leagues, there is no reason not to ride the trio over the final seven races in an attempt to secure a title as the drivers do the same.
Of course, things are a little trickier for fantasy owners that need to try to gain ground. As the rest of the Chasers have found out, gaining ground is tough when the three drivers they are Chasing are finishing in the top five every week; fantasy owners face a similar issue. While it is obvious who most owners will be using, picking the same drivers as the frontrunners isn't going to help track down the league leaders. For those trying to make one last push for a fantasy title, it is time to get a little desperate and to start taking chances, and what better place to start than at a Kansas track that has produced some of the wildest moments in Chase history, including a Joe Nemechek victory.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Not only is Kenseth the defending winner of this weekend's race, but he is going for a season sweep at Kansas after winning the April event earlier this year. The back-to-back victories are part of a streak of six straight finishes of seventh or better at the track, and during the stretch, Kenseth has compiled an impressive 3.8 average finish.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Fantasy owners won't find a more consistent performer at Kansas. Johnson owns a series-leading 7.6 average finish at the track, and he has finished outside the top 10 in just two of his 14 starts. In fact, Johnson has reeled off nine straight top-10s at Kansas, and he has six finishes of third or better during the stretch, including two wins.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Keselowski has made seven starts at Kansas Speedway, and he has finished in the top 15 in six of them. Meanwhile, his 9.3 average finish at the track is the second best in the series. Keselowski has been even better recently, posting a 5.8 average finish in the last five races at Kansas and winning the spring race in 2011.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Since the start of the 2011 season, Kahne has been as stout as any driver at Kansas. He has five straight top-15 finishes at the track - including four straight top-10s - and he has compiled a 6.0 average finish during the stretch. More importantly, Kahne finished fourth at Kansas last fall and second in the April race earlier this year.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
In typical Harvick fashion, he has quietly been one of the most consistent performers at Kansas lately. He has nine top-15 finishes in his last 10 starts at the track, including six straight finishes of 12th or better. Harvick has also finished sixth or better five times during the stretch, so he has plenty of upside as well.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After opening his career with seven straight finishes outside the top 10 at Kansas, a light bulb must have gone off prior to the start of the 2012 season. Truex has a pair of second-place finishes and a fourth-place effort in his last three starts at the track, and he has led more than 200 laps at the track during the stretch. He is fast becoming an elite option at Kansas.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
With seven top-15s in 10 starts at Kansas, Bowyer has always been solid at the track. However, he has been even better at the 1.5-mile oval recently. He has finished seventh or better in three of his last four starts, including a sixth-place run last fall and a fifth-place effort earlier this year. Bowyer is definitely trending in the right direction.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
While he is still looking for a win at Kansas, Edwards has been rock solid at the 1.5-mile oval. He has 10 top-15s in 12 starts at the track, including nine top-10s. More importantly, Edwards has finished sixth or better in six of his 12 starts at Kansas. If not for a somewhat lackluster 17th-place run at the track earlier this year, he would be a borderline top-five option.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon actually won the first two races held at Kansas. While he hasn't been back to victory lane since, he has remained one of the more steady performers. Overall, he has eight top-five finishes in 15 starts at the track, and earlier this year he finished in the top 10. Gordon also finished in the top 15 at Kansas last fall, so a solid run should be on tap for this weekend.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
For his career, Biffle has been one of the dominant drivers at Kansas. His 10.1 average finish at the track is the fifth best in the series, and he has nine top-12 finishes in 14 starts, including six finishes of third or better. On the flips side, Biffle has finished outside the top 15 in his last two starts at Kansas, so his value has taken a bit of a hit.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Statistically, Kansas is one of Busch's worst tracks. He has a dismal 22.4 average finish in 12 starts, and he has managed just two top-10s and no top-five finishes. Still, Busch has been on fire to start the Chase, and he does have four top-12 finishes in his last seven starts at Kansas. He isn't a great option in Yahoo! leagues, but don't be surprised if he has a career run Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Although he has just a single top-five finish in 14 starts at Kansas, Junior has been decent at the track. He has eight top-15 finishes at Kansas, including three in his last four starts. Don't expect anything flashy, but he should at least crack the top 15.