The NASCAR Sprint Cup series will make its way to Kentucky for the fourth time Saturday night. When it comes to making picks, there is not a whole lot of history to go on here for the Cup drivers. But with three races, there are at least some trends we can look at.
The one thing that you can’t help but notice is that of the three drivers to win at Kentucky so far, they each have a K at the start of their first or last name. There was Kyle Busch, then Brad Keselowski and then Matt Kenseth. Does that mean Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick or Kurt Busch will be next to take the checkered flag there?
Well, while a nice theory, and hey, when it comes to making fantasy picks, we’ll like to go with almost any theory that makes even just a little sense, it’s not really a logical way to go about it. But then sometimes, logic doesn’t really play into how a race will play out in the end. So, yes, you may very well see a couple of those K guys in this week’s picks, but it won’t be strictly because of the letter that one of their names begins with, it will be because of their ability to perform on the track.
So, with that in mind, here’s a look at this week’s picks.
LOOKING FOR SOME ACES
OK, let’s go out on a limb here by following up my opening statement by picking Kasey Kahne. But really, it has nothing to do with the K thing. It does have to do with a couple of other things. For one, Kahne is the lone Hendrick driver to go without a win this season. So, you know he doesn’t like feeling left out. But more importantly, it has to do with Kahne’s performance in these first three races at Kentucky. He has finished between second and 13th on those races for an average finish of 8.67, fifth best on the Sprint Cup circuit. The one bit of risk comes in the laps led, as he has led just one lap at Kentucky.
As for Kenseth, if he’s going to get his first win of the season here soon, Kentucky would seem to be the place. Along with his victory, he has finished no worse than seventh in the three Kentucky races. Kenseth has led 38 laps in those races, but his average finish of 4.67 is best among active drivers there.
And, yes, I’ve got to continue with the K theme here as Kyle Busch has simply been too dominant at Kentucky to ignore. Along with his win, he has a top five and a top 10 finish at the 1.5-mile track. Busch has also led a series high 243 laps at Kentucky with an average finish of 5.33.
Jimmie Johnson was able to cross Michigan off the tracks he had not won at earlier this month. He may well do the same at Kentucky this week. Johnson, who is particularly good at these 1.5-mile tracks, has finished between third and ninth in the three Kentucky races. And he’s also led a second-best 203 laps in those races with an average finish of sixth. It’s true that about last time this month people were getting a little worried about when he was going to win. Now, three wins later, the question is can somebody besides Johnson win each week.
MIDDLE OF THE ROADSTERS
Out of this group, and yes, please believe me it’s a numbers things, not a letters thing, the one obvious pick is Brad Keselowski. He has the win and another top 10 finish, but unfortunately for him, also a 33rd place finish at Kentucky. Keselowski though has also led 147 laps, third most, and has an average starting place of 7.3. That shouldn’t be diminished either because clean air is like gold to these cars and drivers.
All right, we’re going to break the K spell here and take a look at Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano. The Penske Fords seem to be ahead of the Roush Fords on the ovals, and Logano has been a steady contender this year. At Kentucky, Logano has finished between fourth and 22nd in three races for an average finish of 13.33. Not great, but not too bad either and when you consider the season Logano is having, he’s a pretty safe pick here.
OK, now back to the K thing, with Kurt Busch. He has led 41 laps in the three races and has two top 10 finishes with a best finish of sixth. Busch has an average finish of 11.33 at Kentucky. The biggest question with Busch this season is you’re not sure if he’s going to have a good car, or be fighting a real dud. But one thing about Busch, he’s one of the best at getting the most out of a car.
It’s true that Martin Truex Jr. is with a different team this year, but he has been good at Kentucky. In his first three races there, Truex has finished in the top 10 twice with a best finish of seventh. He also has an average finish of 11th and even though he’s on a single car team now, he still knows how a good car should feel at Kentucky.
With a limited entry list this week, we are down to the usual choices here. Even if you are on pick limits, such as how often to use a C list driver in a Yahoo! league, or on a budget, it’s hard to not take either Kyle Larson or Austin Dillon here.
Larson has shown he’s capable of running at or near the front on a variety of tracks, and I’m sticking to my earlier season prediction that he will get a win this year. It’s just hard to say it will be at Kentucky. Larson doesn’t have a Sprint Cup start at Kentucky, but that hasn’t mattered to him at several other tracks.
Dillon did run in this race last year and finished 24th. So a little experience does help and he and Larson have ended up running next to each other for several laps at several tracks this year, so even if Larson is a little better this week, Dillon may not be too far behind.
The other two realistic options here are Danica Patrick and Justin Allgaier. Patrick finished 23rd at Kentucky last year, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she could finish inside the top 20.
Allgaier also might have a shot at a top 20 finish, but unless you’re desperate for a low budget or rarely used pick, I would try to stay away from him this week.
LeftTurnOnly remains the overall league leader of the Fronstretch League on Yahoo! with a comfortable 4,419 points. Next are NoBarNASCAR at 4,271 points, Ace Racin’ at 4,151, Mojothemonkey at 4,150 and JoePa’s at 4,103. The biggest movers of the week in the overall standings were Yellow Stripe and Joseph88 each moving up eight spots.
The top score of the week was BradKBlue 226 with 332 points. It had the winning combination of Jeff Gordon in second, Jamie McMurray in fourth, Marcos Ambrose in eighth and Michael McDowell in 24th.