The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway is the second similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track race during the playoffs. It would be a much more predictable event if not for the chaos that erupted at Las Vegas to kick off the playoffs. As it stands, this race will be a good gauge of what to expect in a few weeks at Texas.
Still, even though the Vegas race was unpredictable there is plenty of data to parse from the other 1.5-milers so fantasy owners should be able to make some fairly accurate assesments of who will succeed and fail this week.
1. Kevin Harvick
After last week's performance at Talladega, the entire Stewart-Haas organization has regained their mojo. Harvick has finished third or better in seven of his last 10 attempts at Kansas.
2. Joey Logano
This has not been one of his best tracks recently, but from 2013-2015 Logano had five top-five finishes at Kansas that included a pair of victories. He found the groove again this year with a third in the spring KC Masterpiece 400.
3. Brad Keselowski
The similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks have been kind to Keselowski this year with six top-10s in eight starts. One of the times he missed earlier this season was here at Kansas, however, when he scored a 14th.
4. Chase Elliott
He doesn't need the win in order to advance to Round 3, but Elliott could certainly use some more bonus points. Look for him to maximize his performance in the first two stages of the race and gamble on finding Victory Lane.
5. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin has scored back-to-back top fives in the last two races of this season. He finished fifth in his last two tries at Kansas. He could easily be on track to being the best non-playoff driver in the Hollywood Casino 400.
6. Erik Jones
One big part of the reason Jones made the playoffs this year was because of five top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks. Without the pressure of advancing to the next round, he might even challenge for a top-five.
7. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex swept Victory Lane last year at Kansas and finished second this spring. He has lost a lot of his dominance in the past couple of weeks, however, and that is only going to get worse as the season progresses.
8. Kyle Larson
After being hit with a 10-point penalty last week at Talladega for improperly working on his car, Larson is practically in a must win situation. That is difficult to predict, but he should be able to score a solid top-10.
9. Kyle Busch
Busch enters the weekend with seven consecutive top-10s on this track. His last two efforts were barely 10th, however, and one expects a top-five from one of the Big 3 contenders.
10. Kurt Busch
The king of consistency narrowly missed a top-five last week on the plate track because he ran out of gas under unusual circumstances. Busch has five top-10s in eight starts this year on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.
11. Ryan Blaney
Team Penske has been solid on this track type all year and since Blaney has less experience than his teammates, he might fly under the radar. An astute fantasy player can use that as an advantage.
12. Jimmie Johnson
A broken suspension part ta Dover robbed Johnson of the opportunity to earn his longest top-10 streak of the year. He finished seventh last week on the plate track of Talladega and is on a general upswing.
13. Aric Almirola
Last week's win locked Almirola into Round 3 of the playoffs. Now that there is no pressure on his shoulders, Almirola can concentrate on earning a fifth top-10 on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks in 2018.
14. Paul Menard
The No. 21 has not been as strong with Menard behind the wheel as they were last year, but they have surprised the field with top-10s on a number of occasions. Three of these came on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks; they have another three top-15s to go along with those results.
15. Ryan Newman
Newman finished ninth at Las Vegas a few weeks ago, but that was his first top-10 on a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track in 13 races.
16. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's home track has not been all that welcoming in recent years with only one top-10 in his last 10 attempts there.
17. William Byron
Byron does not have enough experience to make him an easy driver to handicap, but the strength of the Hendrick organization is enough to suggest he can at least challenge for a top-15.
18. Daniel Suarez
In the past 18 races this season, Suarez has earned top-15s in only 44% of his starts and he was in the top 10 in 22% of those events.
19. Jamie McMurray
The Chip Ganassi Racing organization has been hit or miss with the No. 1 car this year. McMurray will challenge for a good finish, but he is unlikely to score a top-15.
20. Alex Bowman
With back-to-back results outside the top 25, Bowman is in a must-win situation this week at Kansas. It will take a minor miracle to get him into Victory Lane, but stranger things have happened in NASCAR.
21. Austin Dillon
Dillon has not been a terrible value during the playoffs, but with only two top-10s he is unlikely to score enough points to make him fantasy relevant at his salary cap level.
22 Regan Smith
Last week Smith earned his first top-10 as a relief driver for the No. 95. That was a plate track and cannot be used as a measure for the other tracks, but he has performed well in every start this year.
23. Bubba Wallace
This week it was announced that Wallace has been named to Ebony magazine's Power 100. As strange as it sounds, things like that can boost a driver's morale and make them even better values.
24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Five of Stenhouse's first six races on this track type ended in results of 16th or better. His last two landed outside the top 25.
25. AJ Allmendinger
Keep an eye on Allmendinger in practice because he scored his first top-15 on a 1.5-mile track the last time NASCAR visited one. He was 14th at Vegas.
26. Trevor Bayne
Slowly but certainly, this team is getting better. Matt Kenseth has provided feedback that has added speed to the car not only when he is in it, but also when Bayne turns the wheel. With some luck, he could earn result solidly in the teens.
27. David Ragan
Ragan has been consistent this year and that is sometimes more valuable than raw speed. He has finished between 23rd and 28th five times in eight similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track races this year, scored one other top-20 and a top-15.
28. Chris Buescher
He has not been great on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year, but there are three reasons to be hopeful about Buescher's opportunity this week. He has three top-15s on the track type and one of them came in the most recent race at Las Vegas.
29. Ty Dillon
With only one top-15 on this track type and an average finish of 26.6 in eight races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, there is not a lot of upside to starting Dillon. Use him only if he fits a niche on your roster.
30. Ross Chastain
Chastain has been a strangely good value on occasion. Sometimes it comes because of attritiion like this fall's Las Vegas race when he finished 20th, but he has scored eight results in the mid-20s in the past eight races and that makes him a great cap value.
31. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto finished outside the top 25 in his last three attempts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. He is in a pack of cars that often contend for mid-20s results, but a slight bobble could make a big different in the outcome of his Kansas race.