6th race of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs; 3rd race of the round of 12 and last before we narrow the playoff field to 8 racers (bubble names include Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth)
Playoff format – top 16 will be eligible to win the Monster Energy Cup “Chase for the Championship”. All of the points are made even amongst drivers 11-16. The winner (Martin Truex Jr) gets 15 additional points, 2nd place gets an additional 10, 3rd gets 9, 4th gets 8 etc.. going down to 1 point for the 10thplace driver (Chase Elliott). This is the last race before the field drops down to 12, after the next 3 it goes down to 8, after the next three it goes down to 4 with the final race being the Ford EcoBoost 400.
What: Hollywood Casino 400
When: October 22nd
Where: Kansas Superspeedway
2016 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Track: Kansas Speedway. Built in 1999, this 1.5mile tri-oval asphalt track has been hosting two races annually since 2011 (Go Bowling 400 and Hollywood Casino 400). The turns hold a 17-20 degree tilt, the front stretch is 9-11 and the backstretch is 5 degrees. This track hosted the first races for Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.
Martin Truex Jr. Well, Martin and I are not in sync, in my two picks this year he’s finished 8th and 20th so I’m doing the natural thing and doubling down. He finished 1st here earlier this year and prior to the 23rd place finish last week he was a top 5 racer in the previous 4 straight playoff races.
Kyle Larson. He finished 6th at Kansas earlier this year and fresh off back to back finishes outside the top 9 I think he’s due for a solid top 5 finish.
Ryan Blaney, he’s had an up and down playoffs with 2 top ten finishes, one finish between 10-15 and two finishes above 15th place. He finished 4th earlier this year but man was it close down the stretch against Martin Truex Jr. (see video below). Given his up and down playoff racing I think he has a decent chance at a top 5 finish along Kyle Larson.
Daniel Suarez. I’ll be forthcoming, I’m taking Daniel Suarez this week at Kansas Speedway where he finished 7th earlier this year at the Go Bowling 400 in equal parts of his past success, playoff success and the fact that I somehow still have 3 starts from him vs. very few from Erik Jones and Ty Dillon. Daniel has been on fire in the playoffs with all 5 outings being top 15 place finishes. Look for Daniel to be a top 8 racer next year.
Clint Bowyer. If you are desperate in the C group go with Michael McDowell but if you are looking for a racer outside of the A group who could sneak into the top 10 then Clint is your guy. He finished 9th here earlier this year and after a 35th place finish at Talladega he should bounce back for a top 15 place finish as he’s done during the year. After a 30th place or worst finish this year his subsequent race finish has been: 11th, 17th, 6thand 24th.
Year to date stats:
A Drivers: Avg Finish 12th (33rd percentile)
B Drivers: Avg Finish 15th (41st percentile)
C Drivers: Avg Finish 17th (46th percentile)
Dark Horse Drivers: Avg Finish 18th (49th percentile)