Race: KC Masterpiece 400
Date: Saturday May 12, 2018
Track: Kansas Speedway
Time: 8 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Dover proved to be a challenge for many drivers, but Kevin Harvick was not one of them. He managed to pull off the win, taking home the checkers yet again this year. As a matter of fact, this is his fourth win for this season, which is not too shabby. He and his team have been fierce competitors all season long thus far, and I am sure this will continue for the remainder of the season. Equally as impressive as coming close to his season record for wins was his ability to win all stages of the race. Dover can be a hard place to do that, as strategies typically change as the race goes on. For the SHR team, not so much.
As a matter of fact, the SHR team had three cars in the top 5 spots. That’s pretty impressive in and of itself. The top spots after Harvick went to Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Martin Truex Jr., and Kurt Busch. Kyle Busch had a pretty lousy day, ending with one of his worst finishes this season in 35th after his drive shaft broke. That’s not a problem that drivers typically see, so it makes me curious as to whether or not this was a parts failure, someone trying to experiment, or otherwise. Regardless, you can bet he was not a happy camper. He knew it was coming and complained about it through much of the race. The funny thing is, Busch was running in the top 5 for much of his journey, but the car couldn’t hang on, and the caution flew on lap 272, with Busch bowing out. Other interesting points during the race included the 40-minute rain delay, which NASCAR was luckily able to get past, as well as the numerous cautions that flew throughout the day. The cautions started on lap 3 when Michael McDowell had issues with the wall early on.
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This weekend, we are heading to another fun track. Kansas is a place that some drivers love, and some drivers hate. It’s a track with a few nuances, but it’s nothing that they haven’t tried to work out. Several years ago, tires were such a huge story here. Through multiple testings, trials, and tribulations, Goodyear seems to have an excellent compound to bring to the track. Before, tires were being rationed by the teams like they were the last bottle of bourbon during the Prohibition Era. Now, not so much. This track is a 1.5-mile asphalt tri-oval. It has 17-20 degree variable banking through the turn, 9-11 degrees on the front stretch and 5 degrees on the backstretch. For whatever reason, this track runs a little differently than the rest of the intermediates. It’s got its own personality for sure. Although the tire compound has been tested over and over again, don’t ignore the fact that they will still likely be an issue for the drivers. Last year, they ran a multi-zone tire, promising to give the drivers a level of grip to run multiple lines. This worked fairly well. Only time will tell if the grooves continue to grow or if drivers will continue to hold their own preferred lines. Kansas is a track where drivers can easily pass so long as they can maintain speed somewhere other than the bottom groove.
Kevin Harvick does well here. He likes to ride the bottom or middle groove and has Kansas figured out pretty well. It’s been only since 2016 when Harvick had a win here. That said, I’m going with Martin Truex Jr. to win this weekend. Although he’s not dominating quite like last year, he swept both of the 2017 Kansas races and had proven that he knows how to get around this place. His finishes this season are nothing to sneeze at either. He continues to be a solid contender week in and week out. Coming off a top-five spot will give him some momentum heading into this weekend. Let’s take a look at all of your potential winners at Kansas:
My Pick to Win: Martin Truex Jr.
Middle of the Road Pick: Matt Kenseth
Dark Horse Prediction: William Byron
William Byron is gaining valuable experience. Bowman suffered at Dover, and Byron stayed slow and steady to have a middle of the pack finish. If Byron can manage to get a little more aggressive and gain a bit more confidence, I do not doubt that he’ll come up with some more solid finishes. Matt Kenseth is back this weekend to finish splitting the races with Trevor Bayne. Quite frankly, if Kenseth is an option in your B list, you pick him. There’s not going to be any better options. When it comes down to it, though, they will all be chasing Truex. I think that even Harvick will trail him this weekend, as Truex is just statistically better here. It’s a constant battle for those points too, so we’ll have to see how everything pans out.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Joey Logano
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Kurt Busch
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Kyle Larson
11. Aric Almirola
12. Jimmie Johnson
13. Erik Jones
14. Alex Bowman
15. Chase Elliott
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ryan Blaney is very obviously holding his own in the points in terms of young guns. Aric Almirola is doing well and seems to be consistent in the standings. Again, Jimmie Johnson finds himself towards the end of the list, but he had a solid top 10 finish at Dover. That team needs to find their groove and put in some consistent runs to be competitive at the end of the day This weekend, I don’t think that they will be at the front of the pack, but it will be a good opportunity to put in another solid finish. Stay tuned for a great weekend of racing at Kansas Speedway!- Looking for more than just standard driver to win NASCAR bets? Check out 5Dimes!