The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes a stop at Kansas Speedway this weekend. The mile-and-a-half tri-oval will host Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400, and while we have seen the new rules package being used this year produce a few surprises, early indications are that NASCAR’s power teams are still going to thrive at intermediate ovals like Kansas.
We have already made trips to Atlanta, Las Vegas and Texas this year, and while a three-race sample isn’t huge, the trends are interesting. Looking strictly at points accumulated in those races, you will find that all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars and all four Joe Gibbs Racing cars make up the Top 10. Team Penske has also been fast in those events, and all three Penske drivers rank seventh or better in laps led in those races.
In other words, the drivers and teams we have come to expect to run well just about every week have been getting the job done at the 1.5-mile ovals. Not surprisingly, I have stacked my lineups accordingly. I’ve loaded up on bigger names at Fantasy Live to try to pile up stage points and strong finishes, and I’ve used the same strategy for the Driver Group Game.
Even for Slingshot Fantasy Auto, I have pole-sitter Kevin Harvick on my roster. However, I am also taking advantage of a couple of stronger options who qualified in the middle of the pack, and I am rounding out my roster with a couple of cheaper drivers who qualified outside the Top 25. In this scoring system, I still like taking advantage of place differential points when I can.
Don’t forget that post-qualifying inspection is still to come, and if anyone fails, it means their qualifying time is disallowed. This could shake up all of lineups, but especially my Slingshot roster. If one of the big names starting in the Top 10 is suddenly starting outside the Top 30, I am going to have to roster them.
Let’s check out this weekend’s Fantasy NASCAR picks for the Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
It could be one of those weekends for Harvick and company. He’s been fast since he unloaded, posting the best long-runs speeds and practice and winning the pole. He already owns an incredible record at Kansas, and he looks poised to add to it Saturday. I’m picking Harvick for the sweep.
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex has been as good as anyone at Kansas recently, reeling off four straight Top 5s and picking up a couple of wins. He’s also led 90-plus laps in four of the last eight races here, so he is no stranger to being out front. Truex qualified sixth for Saturday’s race, and I think he has a great shot to spend the entire night running up in the Top 5.
His 2019 season has mostly been filled with bad luck, but Kansas has been a good track for Larson. He finished third and fourth in the two races here a year ago, leading more than 100 laps in the spring race. Larson will start in the Top 10 with a car that was one of the best on long runs in practice, so his Kansas seems likely to continue Saturday night.
Elliott has been gaining momentum in recent weeks, leading at least 35 laps in five of the last six races. He also picked up the win at Kansas last fall after leading 44 laps. Starting up inside the Top 5, Elliott is positioned to challenge for another win here and to pile up plenty of stage points in the procress.
He’s been the model of consistency at the mile-and-a-half tracks dating back to last season, and Almirola will gunning for his ninth straight Top 10 at a 1.5-mile oval and fourth straight Top 10 at Kansas this weekend. Securing a spot on the front row during qualifying only bolsters his chances for a lot of stage points.
Garage Driver – Ryan Blaney
Qualifying back in 19th makes him a riskier play than I was hoping for, but I still trust Blaney’s record at Kansas and at the mile-and-a-half tracks this year. He has finished seventh or better and led laps in five of his seven starts here, leading 50-plus laps in two of the last four races. Blaney has also led 40-plus laps in two of the three races at the 1.5-mile tracks this year. If he surges to the front again Saturday, I want him available.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
Kevin Harvick (A)
I thought about going with Martin Truex Jr. because I have more starts remaining with him than I do with Harvick, but the No. 4 bunch just seems fast. Harvick is my pick to win Saturday, and it doesn’t make sense to get cute and try to save a start from him when I think he is headed for maximum points.
Erik Jones (B)
I was planning on using Ryan Blaney as one of my Group B options, but Jones qualified better and seemed equal on the practice sheets. Plus, Jones has been piling up Top 10s at the 1.5-mile tracks dating back to last year, and in the two races at Kansas in 2018, he finished seventh and fourth. He also boasts an 8.0 average finish in the three races at mile-and-a-half tracks so far this season. Starting 11th, another solid finish and some stage points seems very obtainable.
Aric Almirola (B)
Almirola picked up a pair of Top 10s at Kansas last year, and after opening 2019 with three straight Top 10s at the 1.5-mile ovals, he seems like one of the safer picks available. After grabbing a spot on the front row, I think he has serious stage point potential, as well. He’s a low-risk, high-upside play in this format.
Tyler Reddick (C)
With guys like Ryan Preece and Matt DiBenedetto not living up to my expectations, I decided to roster the part-timer, Reddick. Granted, he qualified 30th and will be making just his second Cup start, but he showed solid speed in practice, especially on longer runs. I think Reddick gives me my best chance at a decent finish from my Group C driver. Plus, he helps me save a start from the regulars.
Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto
Kevin Harvick ($12,400)
He won’t have the place differential category to fall back on after grabbing the pole, but Harvick appears to have the car to beat this weekend. I think he has the potential to sweep the stages and pick up the win Saturday.
Joey Logano ($12,000)
Logano has been fast all year, and he has piled up seven Top 10s and six Top 5s, including a pair of wins, in his last 10 starts at Kansas. Team Penske was a little off in qualifying, but look for Logano and company to get to the front when it matters. Starting 20th, he should use the place differential category to post a monster points total.
Ryan Blaney ($11,100)
While he didn’t have a great qualifying run, I expect Blaney to be a factor Saturday night. He starts 19th, but he has five finishes of seventh or better in eight starts at Kansas, leading laps in the last four races here. He has also led 40-plus laps in two of the three races at 1.5-mile ovals in 2019. I still think Blaney has Top 5 upside, and I expect him to gobble up place differential points.
Ryan Newman ($8,300)
Newman qualified back in 28th, but he has seven Top 15s in the last 10 races at Kansas and two Top 15s in the three races at mile-and-a-half tracks this season. He should be able to use the place differential to boost his score, and Newman is positioned to be a safe, lower-priced play.
Tyler Reddick ($5,900)
This will be just his second Cup start, but I don’t mind taking a chance on Reddick. He starts back in 30th in Richard Childress Racing equipment, and he showed borderline Top 15 speed in practice. I like the potential at this price, especially with the place differential category working in his favor.
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