Race: Hollywood Casino 400
Date: October 18th
Venue: Kansas Speedway
2019 Winner: Denny Hamlin (3:02:39)
Kansas Speedway — Built in 1999, this 1.5 mile tri-oval asphalt track has been hosting two races annually since 2011. The turns hold a 17-20 degree tilt, the front stretch is 9-11 and the backstretch is 5 degrees. Given the distance and shape of the track, it is fairly similar to a number of tracks including Kentucky, Charlotte, Atlanta and Las Vegas. This track hosted the first races for Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.
Erik Jones (eighth selection this year) — Jones’ last two years at Kansas have been fruitful. He finished3rd, 7th, 7th and 4th between the regular season and playoff races here. In addition to that, despite not even making the top 16 to start the playoffs this season, he now has four consecutive top ten finishes and he has finished in the top ten in all but one of the playoff races.
Kyle Busch (tenth selection this year) — Last year’s winner just got booted from the playoffs with a 30th place finish at Charlotte as the cut went down to eight drivers. I think we see Busch rebound heavily in spite of this, especially at Kansas where, up until last season when a 30th place finish stopped nine consecutive top 10 finishes here, he had averaged a sixth place finish.
High Risk/High Reward
Alex Bowman (fifth selection this year) — Bowman has a decent track record at Kansas as of late: 2nd, 11th, 18th, 9th and 7th but early in his racing career (2014 and 2015) he had nothing but bottom ten finishes here. He has a mix of top ten finishes in the playoffs thus far and he finished 8th at Kansas earlier this year.
Tyler Reddick (fifth selection this year) — Reddick finished 9th here last year and 13th earlier this year. His playoffs have been a bit of everything as bad as 38th and as good as 4th. He tends to emerge stronger in these types of mid length tracks—at Charlotte and Atlanta he finished 8th, 14th, 16th and 12th which is favorable to the handful of longer tracks (two miles plus like Pocono, Daytona, Talladega etc..) where he finished worse than 20th.
The Dark Horse
Cole Custer (fourth selection this year) — Much like Reddick, while Custer isn’t a top 10 finisher, he had some of his better finishes at Charlotte, Atlanta and Kansas this season: 12th, 18th, 19th, 7th and 9th. If you add Las Vegas and Kentucky to the mix you get 16th, 19th and 1st. He won’t be an elite finisher but he’s a lower safe pick for a top 20 racer.
Fun Fact: Since the first race in 2001, six racers have won twice here…no more, just twice including Jeff Gordon, Greg Bifle, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and, Joey Logano. That means among 19 races, 12 are made up of six racers who could capture the title twice but no more. If Martin Truex Jr, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin or Matt Kenseth won, they could join the group.
Favorite: Avg Finish 10th (26th Percent)
High Risk/High Reward: Avg Finish 16th (40th Percent)
Dark Horse: Avg Finish 19th (49th Percent)