Last week’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 cheat sheet for Daytona International Speedway was the least accurate of the year. That is no surprise given the number of cars eliminated by accidents and the flipside of that coin that elevated many drivers who would have finished at the back of the pack without the massive attrition.
By contrast, the Overton's 400 cheat sheet was the third-most accurate for the season. Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks are much more predictable – especially this year with the domination of the Big 3. At Chicagoland Speedway, we predicted 22 drivers within three spots of their eventual result – and Kentucky Speedway should behave much more like its sister track.
1. Kyle Busch
In the battle between the Big 3, Busch gets the nod because he has already won twice on this track with victories in the inaugural race of 2011 and again in 2015.
2. Kevin Harvick
In seven starts on this track, Harvick has not yet cracked the top five. Who wants to bet that will change after this week?
3. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex was the king of this track type in 2017 and he is finally coming up to full speed this season. He has the best chance of beating Busch and Harvick for the first time in 2018 on a 1.5-miler.
4. Brad Keselowski
With three Kentucky wins to his credit, Keselowski tops the chart. Unfortunately, he has also finished in the 30s twice - including last year's 39th.
5. Kyle Larson
Larson showed just how badly he wanted to win two weeks ago at Chicagoland and he should be able to challenge for the win again in the Quaker State 400.
6. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer benefited from the rising tide at Stewart-Haas Racing on many occasions this year, including a third at Atlanta and a fifth at Chicagoland.
7. Joey Logano
It is too soon to expect Logano to challenge for a victory on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, but he's been consistent in regard to top-10s all year. His only bad performance on this track type came at Charlotte.
8. Denny Hamlin
When Hamlin has been able to stay out of trouble on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year, he has been a great value. Start him and hope he doesn't speed on pit road.
9. Erik Jones
With the weight of his first Cup win off his shoulders, Jones should be able to fulfill his promise on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.
10. Chase Elliott
A lot of muddy water has passed under the bridge on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks since Elliott finished third in this race last year.
11. Kurt Busch
Four of Busch's six attempts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year ended in top-10s, but none were better than seventh.
12. Aric Almirola
One of Almirola's best runs this year came at Chicagoland, but a series of tire problems kept him from getting the finish he deserved.
13. Paul Menard
Menard could be a good differentiator this week. In six starts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year, he has two top-10s, another pair of top-15s, and a 17th.
14. Alex Bowman
It took a while for Bowman to get comfortable in his new ride, but now he has back-to-back top-10s on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks with a ninth at Charlotte and 10th at Chicagoland.
15. Jamie McMurray
McMurray needs to stay out of trouble this week in order to score his fourth top-12 finish on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.
16. Ryan Blaney
Blaney has a pair of fifth-place results on this track type, but two of his last three efforts ended in disappointment. He was 37th at Kansas and 36th at Charlotte.
17. Jimmie Johnson
Strictly by the 2018 numbers, Johnson is not a good value this week on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks - but he finished fifth at Charlotte under the lights and this will be another night race.
18. Matt Kenseth
If he practices well, Kenseth might be this week's top dark horse contender with a near-perfect record of top-10s at Kentucky in the past to use as a notebook.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
While he has not burned up the 1.5-milers, Stenhouse has finished 10th through 16th in five of the six races in 2018. The best way to forget about Daytona is to succeed at Kentucky.
20. Bubba Wallace
The similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks have been uniformly kind to Wallace since he joined the Cup series and a top-20 is not out of the question.
21. Daniel Suarez
Suarez scored two top-10s on this track type last year, but he has not cracked that mark yet in 2018. He came close at Chicagoland with an 11th.
22. Kasey Kahne
Until he finished 27th in the Overton's 400 two weeks ago, Kahne had a consistent record of results 17th to 21st on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.
23. Michael McDowell
In order to succeed in salary cap games, players need consistent mid-pace drivers. McDowell's last four results on this track type ended between 14th and 21st.
24. William Byron
Byron crashed out of two of the last three races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and that makes him a risky proposition this week at Kentucky.
25. Ryan Newman
Newman has been solid on this track type in the past, but he's struggled to earn only two top-15s in six starts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks in 2018.
26. Chris Buescher
Buescher scored back-to-back 15th-place finishes at Vegas and Texas on this track type, but two of his last three efforts ended outside the top 25.
27. Austin Dillon
Dillon had three results of 17th or better in the first four races on this track type in 2018. His other three results have all been outside the top 25.
28. David Ragan
In the first five races on this track type in 2018, Ragan swept the top 25. If you jumped on his bandwagon at Chicagoland, you were disappointed with a 38th-place finish, however.
29. AJ Allmendinger
He got off to a slow start with a 29th at Atlanta and 30th at Vegas, but Allmendinger swept the top 25 in his last four efforts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.
30. Ty Dillon
Toss out the high of 38th at Kansas and his best result of 13th at Texas and most of Dillon's results have ended in a narrow range of 21st to 28th on this track type.
31. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto has not yet cracked the top 15 on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, but he has been a decent value with results of 22nd or better three times this year.
32. Corey LaJoie
At Kansas, Charlotte, and Michigan, LaJoie finished in the mid-20s in three consecutive races and that could be enough to make him a dark horse worth considering at Kentucky.
33. Jesse Little
Little will make his first Cup start this week, but he actually brings some momentum from a limited Truck program where he has four top-10s in five starts.
34. Landon Cassill
In four starts with StarCom Racing this year on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, Cassill has been heading in the wrong direction with progressively worse results.
35. Ross Chastain
Chastain stayed out of trouble at Texas this spring and scored an impressive top-20 in a race with high attrition. He also has a pair of mid-20 results at Kansas and Charlotte to recommend him as a dark horse.
36. Timmy Hill
In seven previous starts this year, Hill has a pair of 32nds and two 33rds as his high water marks. He also has two DNFs
37. BJ McLeod
McLeod has made four starts this year and all of them came on unrestricted, intermediate speedways. He's finished in the mid-30s each time.
38. Garrett Smithley
In his Cup debut in Michigan, Smithley made only one lap before retiring with transmission problems.
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