The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Kentucky Speedway Saturday, July 9th for the Quaker State 400. The speedway underwent an extensive face lift following the 2015 race last July, which includes a newly paved surface, steeper corners and added SAFER barrier.
Kentucky Speedway was added to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule back in 2011. In the five cup races held at the track, there have been three different winners. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski each have two wins, while Matt Kenseth has the other.
NASCAR cancelled qualifying following a heavy rainstorm that hit the track Friday afternoon. As a result, points leader Kevin Harvick will start at the front of the field, beside red-hot Brad Keselowski.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when constructing your Quaker State 400 Draftkings lineup.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kevin Harvick ($10,600) FPPR: 63 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, three top-10s
Average finish at Kentucky: 10.4
The past three races, Kevin Harvick has had to fight his way through the pack after starts of 21st or worse. This week, Harvick is sitting in the top position, and will run up front from the get-go. Harvick is is the most profitable daily fantasy driver through 17 races, and will be a must start for the foreseeable future.
Kyle Busch ($10,200) FPPR 46.1 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, two wins, four top-5s, five top-10s
Average finish at Kentucky: 3.8
As one of three men to have wins at Kentucky, Kyle Busch has an advantage. Though the track’s surface has been repaved, and the characteristics of the speedway have changed, Kyle is arguably the most adaptable driver in the field. He will be starting in the sixth position when the green flag flies on Saturday night.
Joey Logano ($10,100) FPPR: 43.4 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, two top-5s, three top-10s
Average finish at Kentucky: 10.2
Joey Logano doesn’t have a win at Kentucky, but he fought for one last season in an intense battle with Kyle Busch. Logano’s sole win this season came at Michigan, where the Sprint Cup Series ran the same aerodynamics package. Logano has a three race streak of top-10 finishes at Kentucky, and has the low downforce package mastered. Logano will be a threat to win this weekend.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,500 – $9,999
Brad Keselowski ($9,800) FPPR: 45.1 – Career at Kentucky: Five race, two wins, four top-10s
Average finish at Kentucky: 9.6
Brad Keselowski has two wins in five races at Kentucky. He has finishes in 6th, 7th, and 33rd in the other three races. In the 2013 race in which he finished 33rd, he was running eighth before he was involved in a seven car accident on lap 49. In 2016, Keselowski has three wins, including last week at Daytona. The momentum is on Keselowski’s side.
Carl Edwards ($9,600) FPPR: 50.3 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, two top-5s
Average finish at Kentucky: 13.4
Carl Edwards was the fastest car in practice on Saturday evening and will be starting the race in the fifth position. Edwards has two top-5 finishes at Kentucky, including a fourth place finish last season. Edwards has two wins in 2016, and has the speed to run up front for a win.
Matt Kenseth ($8,700) FPPR: 33.8 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, one win, three top-5s
Average finish at Kentucky: 4.6
Kenseth’s worst finish at Kentucky was a seventh place finish in 2012. A win in 2013 during his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing was followed up by two consecutive top-5s in 2015 and 2016. Matt Kenseth has had an up-and-down season thus far, resulting in the high-value price, but he does have a win. Kenseth rolls through the green flag in the 11th position Saturday night.
Honorable Mentions: Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,200), Chase Elliott ($9,000)
MID TIER: $7,500 – $8,499
Kyle Larson: ($8,300) FPPR: 34.1 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, one pole
Average finish at Kentucky: 37.5
Kyle Larson’s two races at Kentucky started off great, but both ended in disappointment. Last season, Larson started on the pole, but finished 35th after a late race spin while running 10th. In his first Kentucky race, he started 6th, but wrecked while running 16th, and finished at the tail end of the pack. Larson knows how to get around the track and be competitive, but he is inconsistent. Larson will be a high-risk-high-reward pick.
Kasey Kahne: ($8,100) FPPR: 28 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, one top-5, two top-10s
Average finish at Kentucky: 12.2
Kasey Kahne has two top-10 finishes at Kentucky, including a second place finish in 2012. The past few seasons from Kahne have been mediocre, but 2016 has been better. Other than rough finishes at Talladega and Daytona, which are ever unpredictable, Kahne has not finished outside the top-25. Kahne’s average finish of 12.2 at Kentucky is eighth best among active drivers.
Ryan Newman: ($7,500) FPPR: 27.4 – Career at Kentucky: Five races, two top-5s, two top-10s
Average finish at Kentucky: 15
Newman has four career top-20 finishes at Kentucky, including two top-10s. Ryan Newman is in the final year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing, and Ty Dillon is knocking the door for a Sprint Cup Series ride. Newman may be racing for his job through the second half of the season. Look for the aggression to pick up.
BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,499
Ryan Blaney: ($7,400) FPPR: 28.7 – First career Sprint Cup Series start
Ryan Blaney will be making his first career Sprint Cup Series start at Kentucky, but he is no stranger to the speedway. In five Xfinity Series races at Kentucky, Blaney has an average finish of 6.2, which includes two wins. The competition level is higher, and the track, as has been mentioned numerous times, has changed, but Blaney is a sleeper pick for a great finish.
Trevor Bayne: ($6,900) FPPR 27.2 – Career at Kentucky: One race, one top-15
Average finish at Kentucky: 13
The emergence of the rebuilding Roush Fenway Racing has been no secret, highlighted by the success of both Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne during All-Star week, as well as Biffle’s pole last weekend. Bayne has found a way to run in the top half of the field in 2016 and has raised his average finish to 17.6, up from previous best 22.5 during a partial season in 2012. Bayne has one career race at Kentucky where he finished 13th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: ($6,800) FPPR 24 – Career at Kentucky: Three races, one top-15
Average Finish at Kentucky: 17.7
Another Roush Fenway driver having a career year is Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who through 17 races, has an average finish of 18.2. In last season’s race at Kentucky, he finished a personal best 11th place. At Michigan earlier in the season with a similar aero package, Stenhouse ran within the top-15 for much of the race, including a race high 4th place.
Honorable Mentions: Clint Bowyer ($7,000)
All stats courtesy of racing-reference
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