Race: Hollywood Casino 400
Date: Sunday October 22, 2017
Track: Kansas Speedway
Time: 3 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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As predicted, Brad Keselowski came home with the win on Sunday at Talladega, easily the most unpredictable race of the Chase. He battled hard all day and managed to stay on the outskirts of the trouble each time, despite some very close calls. In all actuality, Keselowski really needed the win in order to move on to the next segment. He was sitting in 10th place, with four drivers up for the elimination come the next round. This weekend is the last shot for those guys remaining in the hot seat to either get that win or nab as many points as humanly possible. Keselowski can breath a little easier after getting his 5th win at Talladega and helping Ford sweep the restrictor plate tracks this season along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
It was an interesting race for sure. By the closing laps, only 14 cars actually remained on the track. That being said, someone please tell me how Jr. didnt win??? He had the pole and every opportunity to get it done this weekend. I was a little disappointed. That being said, I guess Jr. has more important things to worry about after announcing that he and his wife are expecting their first child, a little girl. On this Sunday, declared Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day, Jr. managed a 7th place finish to cap off his career at Talladega. Some other interesting finishes included basically the whole top 5, none of which were playoff contenders other than Keselowski. Ryan Newman finished second, after being passed by Keselowski on the final lap. Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, and Aric Almirola rounded out the remaining top 5 spots. Logano and Keselowski very clearly worked together to help each other out, and if theres any track where help is appreciated, its on these super speedways.
This weekend, the drivers are headed to one of my favorite tracks. Kansas is hosting the NASCAR Monster Cup Series this Sunday and generally provides some very good racing. The first Kansas race this past May provided some spectacular wrecks, even one including Aric Almirola having to be extricated from his car after a wreck with none other than the lovely Danica Patrick. Maybe theyll have better luck with this round. This 1.5-mile asphalt tri-oval boasts 17-20 degree banking through the turns, 9-11 degrees on the frontstretch, and 5 degrees on the backstretch. Tires are typically an issue here, and Goodyear has run many a test here because of this reason. This is a place that can eat tires alive depending on the compound that Goodyear wants to bring. Theyve seemed to do a fairly decent job at providing a tire that lasts but still provides some wear, forcing drivers to anticipate some strategy in this department. The other factor here, as it is with all other intermediate tracks, is track position. Drivers who get out front will obviously have the advantage of clean air and a lot of track ahead of them.
When it comes to picking the winner here, there are a couple of very obvious picks in my opinion. The top 2 drivers to consider are going to be Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Between the two, although Busch has a very strong record here, I think that Truex will hold onto his win from May and bring that momentum back this weekend. Busch will certainly be a strong contender, with 5 straight top 5 finishes and a win to go with that, but with Truexs consistency this year, hes going to be hard to beat. There will be other drivers to watch for. Kevin Harvick will likely have a good chance at this track as well. Johnson is also another good option, coming into the weekend as the active driver with the most wins at Kansas. What I think will be an interesting storyline will be Brad Keselowski. With the pressure off for the weekend, he has the opportunity to play around with strategy a little bit, especially with the tire situation that I mentioned earlier. Keselowski will likely try to gain some valuable stage points so hes not playing catch up at the end. Heres a look at your potential winners this weekend heading in to Kansas:
My Pick to Win: Martin Truex Jr.
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones
Jones is probably the strongest of the C list drivers, while Chase Elliott is going to give everyone a run for their money. Elliott is a solid intermediate driver who really is salivating for that win. Hes come oh so close this season and still has a few chances in these closing races. He needs to do well anyway to maintain his spot in the Chase and not fall out of the top 8 right now. Get YOUR Hollywood Casino 400 race predictions down at a sportsbook that takes credit cards for deposits and that will give you a 100% bonus up to $250 in free betting tickets: Bovada Sportsbook!
Here are your current top 12 after last week’s race:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Chase Elliott
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Kyle Busch
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
12. Jamie McMurray
As you can see, the bottom four will have a lot of work to do. There are 4 drivers being eliminated after Kansas. Jamie McMurray really had a horrendous race at Talladega after a mishap trying to get onto pit road. That really devastated his chances at staying in the Chase. Jimmie Johnson has some work to do, sitting in that final exchange spot for the top 8 positions. Overall, Kansas should really give us some good racing. Its crunch time, boys! Stay tuned for an awesome day of racing at Kansas Speedway this Sunday!