Saturday’s Digital Ally 400 is the 12th race of the Cup Series season and the first of two visits to Kansas in 2019. Kevin Harvick is the defending spring race winner, but the SHR driver remains winless in 2019. Kansas Speedway is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with 17-20 degrees of variable banking in the turns, and 5-11 degrees of variable banking on the frontstretch and backstretch. The track has an asphalt surface.
There have been 15 different race winners in 26 races held here. Pit road speeding has been an issue since 2016 at the track, totaling 36 penalties in the last six races. Hamlin is the most penalized driver in Nascar when it comes to pit road speeding in recent years. This week’s event is a night race. Five drivers have 15 or more top-five finishes in night races since 2015. Harvick has 20, Logano has 19, Hamlin has 17, Kyle Busch has 16 and Truex has 15.
Teams will use the 2019 rules package with a target horsepower of 550, including aero ducts. Team Penske has won three of the last four races on 1.5 mile tracks. JGR’s Hamlin won the most recent one at Texas. Four drivers have finished in the top 10 in all three 1.5 mile races in 2019….Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Harvick.
Past Kansas winners entered this week are Harvick (3), Truex (2), Logano (2), and JJ (2) all with multiple wins. Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Elliott, Hamlin, and Newman all have one win each. As always, my articles are directed at DK gpp formats, but I will be around in chat to discuss FD options and cash plays for those players interested. Let’s get to it.
Kyle Busch (11900) – Busch will be happy to see Kansas this week and put his Dover spring race woes behind him. At Kansas, he has a win, an average finish of 5.4, and has finished in the top ten in the last 8 races here. In the fall 2017 race, he led a race high 100+ laps here to go along with 59 laps led in the spring race that year. Despite numerous mishaps on the 1.5 mile tracks thus far in 2019, he’s still sporting a 6.3 average finish. He managed to squeak in a 10th last week in Dover despite being run down by Suarez in the waning laps, and keep his streak of top ten finishes in every race this season alive. If he can do it again this week, he’ll tie the all-time record of 12 straight. Busch qualified 13th and he’s likely to gain positional points (4th best odds) as well as dominator points. If you’re going to pay up for him, this is one of those weeks.
Kevin Harvick (10600) – Harvick loves Kansas, and has been running better the last few weeks of the season. He’s the defending winner of the spring race here, and should contend for a win this week. He has the best average finish (4.5) here over the last six races. He was on his way to winning the fall race here for a sweep of both events, until a late race pit road penalty while leading took him out of contention. Despite the lack of a victory in 2019, Harvick has the best average finish (5.3) at intermediate tracks. He dominated long-run practice speeds for both the 15 and 20 lap averages. He starts on the pole, but I expect him to get a fair share of dominator points this week. Harvick is the best value of the week due to those projected dominator points and is in my core lineup.
Martin Truex Jr. – Truex has now won two of the last three races, and at Kansas he’ll be a favorite again. Kansas is one of his better venues. The JGR driver has performed very well at Kansas in recent years with two wins in the last four races held at the track to go along with a 2nd and a 5th to give him a 2.3 average finish over that span. He’s led the most laps (208), and finished in the top five in every race since 2017. His average finish this year at intermediate 1.5 mile tracks is 7.3, and he’s getting better by the race. He did struggle to find speed in practice this week so I won’t be overweight on him.
Joey Logano (10200) – Logano has been good on 1.5 mile tracks in 2019. He’s finished in the top five in every race this year on this track type in incident free races. Las Vegas is close to this same track layout and Logano took the victory there earlier this year. He’s won twice here, and led 100 laps in the most recent race last fall. Logano rolls off 20th, and is a great play this week if you can squeeze him into your lines. I have him as the top play for positional points this week.
Ryan Blaney (9300) – This is definitely Blaney’s favorite track type, and his past history here shows it, with 5 results in the top 7 over the last four years. He led 83 laps here in the spring race two years ago, and despite incidents taking him out of nearly every event this year at1.5 mile intermediate venues, he’s run very strong in every race. Blaney was fast in happy hour, finishing in the top nine in both 15 and 20 lap averages. He starts 19th and I have him as the 3rd best mover (positional pts) this week.
Kyle Larson (8700) – Larson has finished in the top six in 3 of the last 4 races at Kansas. Larson had a good 2018 here in sweeping the top 5, and finally managed to “finish” a race last week at Dover. If he can keep things rolling, expect to see him up front again this week. Kansas has a high line and Larson spent a good portion of practice setting up to use it on race day. He had the 3rd best 15 and 20 lap averages in happy hour. He qualified in the top ten so we’ll be looking for dominator points from him on race day. He’s still underpriced on DK and as long as his performance is surging, we need to take advantage. Larson will be in a majority of my lines on race day.
Denny Hamlin (9100) – Hamlin struggled last week and never seemed to get things going. He’ll be looking to put that behind him at Kansas, where he’s historically been pretty good. He’s also been competitive at 1.5 mile tracks in 2019. He led 45 laps at Texas on his way to victory. He has an average of finish of 8.0 here in recent races. He wasn’t overly impressive in happy hour this week, but I still have him with a good chunk of positional points gained on race day. Be careful though, given his struggles last week and in practice again this week.
Austin Dillon (7500) – Dillon has been decent at Kansas with a 14.5 average finish over the last four events. All of his finishes in that span were near to that mark, with none of them being extremes in either direction. Dillon has been competitive and consistent this year within that range. I have his window this week in the same range from low-double digits to mid-teens. Dillon starts 22nd, which will give us double digit positional points if he can hit his ceiling. He’s a solid play this week at his salary and rates as the best value in the starting lineup that isn’t considered a dominator this week. He’s in my core lineup.
Ryan Newman (7800) – Newman has an 11th and a 13th on 1.5 mile tracks in 2019. His other result was incident filled and not good. He finished near that same range (15th) in the most recent race here, and I think that’s where his window is. I have him from low-teens to low-20’s this week, with a larger than most window. Newman has struggled to find speed this week, and slipped to 28th in qualifying. He’s a veteran with a solid track record here and I expect him to move up on race day, gaining double digits in positional points. He’s in that upper 7k range which is sometimes not a good place to be, but he’s worth a look.
Ryan Preece (6100) – Preece has been low-20’s good on 1.5 mile tracks this season. He’s had a few good results mixed in on other track types throughout 2019, but he’s still a rookie learning the ropes, and not someone we can rely on to compete for top tens on a weekly basis. That said, he does have a 3rd place finish to his credit this year. I have his window this week in the low-20’s to high 20’s range. Preece will take the green flag from 31st, which gives us a solid opportunity for double digit positional points.
David Ragan (5500) – Kansas is one of Ragan’s best venues. He has four straight results in the teens (16.5 avg) at Kansas, and that’s his best average in the series. He hasn’t been competitive this year however, and expecting a result in the teens might be pushing it. I have his window closer to mid-20’s to low-30’s. He did finish in the mid-20’s at both Texas and Las Vegas. Ragan qualified 33rd, and while he’s struggled at times this year, I have him as the best sub-6k value on the slate this week. Ragan is in my core lineup this week.
Tyler Reddick (6300) – Reddick will be driving a third RCR entry at Kansas and will be making only his 2nd career start. He crashed in the Daytona 500, finishing 27th. I wouldn’t set the bar too high for him, but he has shown some good speed in practice, reporting that his car is handling well. I will point out that Reddick is a very talented driver. He has experience in many forms of racing, and has won many, many races. He simply lacks experience at this level. I personally would have him ahead of both Hemric and Preece in the race for RoY if he were running a full schedule. This year at 1.5 mile tracks in the Xfinity series he has an average finish of 7th, and he finished 5th here at Kansas in that lower series last year. He had the 9th best 20 lap average in happy hour. He rolls off 30th, and I have his window from 20th to high-20’s. It’s well within, and possibly beyond the range (5-8) of positional points we look for from our lower salaried drivers.
Other drivers I like are Almirola, Bowyer (home track), Suarez, Elliott, Truex, Keselowski, Bowman, and Buescher.
Salary-savers this week are Ragan, and Tifft.
Dominator potentials this week are Harvick, Elliott, Truex, Keselowski, and Larson.
Movers this week are Newman, Logano, and Blaney.
Fades for me this week are Bubba, and Ty Dillon.
My pick to win the race this week is Harvick. He’s been dominant here in the past. He’s run well recently, and he topped all of the long run speed averages in happy hour on Friday.NASCAR