The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Kansas Speedway this weekend for the second race of 2018 at the 1.5-mile oval. Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 also happens to be the final race of the Round of 12, and after Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola won the first two races of the round, there are some big names facing a must-win situation this weekend.
Unfortunately for guys like Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney who are in a desperate situation, a mile-and-a-half oval like Kansas is not the place to go if you need a win. The Big 3 of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have owned the 1.5-mile ovals this year, winning seven of the eight races thus far.
Yes, all of the big names from the top teams tend to excel at these intermediate ovals, but it is probably going to take some strategy or a lucky break for someone other than the Big 3 to end up in victory lane. Not surprisingly, this is one of the tracks where I recommend loading up your lineups with studs, even if it means using some of your final starts from certain guys in the Driver Group Game.
It is just as important to load up your lineups in Fantasy Live. No, there isn’t a limit on how often you can use a driver, but stage points are huge, and the gap between the Big 3 and everyone else has been at its widest at the mile-and-a-half tracks. In addition to winning seven of the eight races, Truex, Harvick and Kyle Busch also ranked first, second and third in Top 5s earned in these races.
We still have races at Martinsville and Phoenix where you can get a little creative with your lineups to try to save starts or try to gain some ground, but Kansas is not a place to get cute. Stick with the studs this weekend.
Tire issues at Charlotte and Las Vegas drag down his average finish a bit, but Harvick’s three wins at 1.5-mile tracks this year are tied for the most in the series, and no driver has led more laps. One of those three wins came at Kansas, and in the last 10 races at the track, Harvick has seven finishes of third or better, including three wins.
Truex swept both races at Kansas a year ago, and he nearly pulled off a three-peat before finishing second here in May. He also leads all drivers with seven Top 5s in the eight races at mile-and-a-half tracks this year.
He is the only driver who has finished in the Top 10 in all eight races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and his 4.1 average finish in those races is tops in the series. Busch has also reeled off seven straight Top 10s at Kansas, notching five Top 5s in that stretch.
4.Kyle Larson, #42 CreditOne/DC Solar, Chip Ganassi Racing
Larson has been rock solid at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, posting seven Top 10s in that eight races. His best performance came back at Kansas in May when he led 101 laps and finished fourth, so keep Larson in mind as an alternative to the Big 3 in both season-long and DFS contests this weekend.
He owns a 9.0 average finish at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, and Keselowski has been getting better as the year goes on. He has three Top 5s in the last four races, including his win at Las Vegas, and Keselowski has led more than 15 laps in each of the last three races at mile-and-a-half tracks.