Hollywood Casino 400 Picks

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Casino 400 Picks

Race: Hollywood Casino 400
Date: Sunday October 21, 2012
Track: Kansas Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
By Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com

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Clint Bowyer makes me like him more and more every time I see him. He was in shock that he actually won a race! He said he’s going to have to try that more often. What a trip! Charlotte was a good race with a lot of lead changes, but it all came down to fuel mileage, and Bowyer’s team clearly nailed it as he ran out of gas attempting donuts.

This weekend is going to be a similar battle of fuel mileage as we head to Kansas. This track lends itself to a fuel race, but other factors play a role here. Namely, tires are hard to gauge here. Two tire or four tire stops are going to be what to watch. Some guys excel on 2 tires, but some have to have four to make their cars drive right. Pit strategy is going to make or break it here as well. Although some guys had trouble on pit road last weekend, it’s much easier to come back from a lap down at Charlotte than it is here. Even if those guys couldn’t come back from a lap down, it was okay since only 6 drivers ran all of the laps.

Kansas is similar to Charlotte in configuration. It is a 1.5-mile true D-shaped oval. It has 15 degree banking in the turns, 10.4 degrees on the frontstretch and 5 degrees on the backstretch. The frontstretch comes in at 2685, while the backstretch comes in slightly shorter with 2207 feet.

Being similar to Charlotte, it’s no surprise who we are going to see run well here. The big three to watch for the Chase drivers are Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin. They all have a win here, with Johnson boasting two. Hamlin is your defending champ for the spring race this year while Johnson won the last fall race. Prior to that, Keselowski won the 2011 spring race. There is definitely a force within that group of 3 drivers that we have to watch. When it comes down to winners, I am going to pull for Johnson on this one. With him being the defending fall champ and also just outside the lead in the points to Keselowski, he is going to run hard. Working on a track similar to Charlotte, Johnson will definitely have the upper hand. He is going to have a mirror full of the other guys though. Here’s the rundown of your potential winners this weekend:

My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Jamie McMurray
Dark Horse Pick: A.J. Allmendinger

I am completely stoked to see Allmendinger back in a car. He has a lot to prove to everyone in NASCAR, so I guarantee he is going to drive with everything he has. McMurray is consistent on these bigger tracks, so I’d look for him to be running towards the front for the better part of the afternoon.

Charlotte made a little bit of a change in the points. Here are your current top 12 after Saturday night’s race:

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Greg Biffle
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Tony Stewart
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Kevin Harvick
11. Matt Kenseth
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The biggest movers were Biffle who jumped 3 spots and Gordon who lost 3 positions. Gordon had a dismal night, having to deal with a pit road speeding penalty on top of a not-so-great car. Earnhardt essentially bowed out of Chase competition because of being out of commission for Charlotte and Kansas at the very least due to multiple concussions. Regan Smith is driving in his place during his recovery. Keselowski is only 7 points ahead of Johnson and can’t seem to shake him off his coattails. Look for Johnson to try and swap those spots by the end of the day on Sunday. Stay tuned for a great fall afternoon of racing at Kansas Speedway.