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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 Preview

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 Preview 1 month 3 days ago #485955

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Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Friday 7/13/18
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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 Preview 1 month 3 days ago #485956

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Quaker State 400 Preview
July 11, 2018
By Micah Roberts

We've hit the halfway marker as 18 races have passed and we've got 18 more to go beginning with Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. This is the seventh of 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks and the second in the past three weeks. Kyle Busch bumping and banging his way to a Chicagoland win was great TV and it was the most exciting of the previous five races on 1.5s. Busch has three wins on them and Kevin Harvick has the other three. That's it and that's where the great divide is.

But something else happened at Chicagoland that gives hope someone other than Busch, Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. won't win this week. I throw Truex in the group because he's won three races this season and won seven of the 11 on 1.5s last season. Harvick's teammate Aric Almirola was dominating at Chicago leading four times for 70 laps and his other Stewart Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer led 21 laps.

Kyle Larson finished second and led seven laps. Their other teammate Kurt Busch led 20 laps and Team Penske's Ryan Blaney led 19 laps. There's hope. Others are catching up. And it definitely appears Harvick's team is sharing the entire notebook within SHR for the first time this season.

Harvick has never won at Kentucky and doesn't even have a top-five there in seven starts. However, he has a 10th-place average finish and is using the same chassis this week that started from the pole at Kentucky in 2016 and finished ninth. That same chassis started second at Dover in May and won, one of his five wins on the season.

“We’ve actually run really well there the last couple of years and led a lot of laps," Harvick said of Kentucky. "I’m not sure it is any one thing that makes Kentucky challenging to be honest, just for the fact that they’ve recently repaved it and it really is a unique track that is hard to get everything just right.”

Despite no wins or top-fives at Kentucky, or winning any of the past six races on the schedule, Harvick is listed by the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook as the 2-to-1 favorite. Last season in this race, Truex rolled and started a string of winning five of the final six races on 1.5s to end the season, culminating with his first Cup Series Championship. Although he hasn't won on a 1.5-mile track yet this season, he's actually doing better than his 2017 championship season. He has the same amount of wins (3), but has 12 top-five finishes compared to only six at the same juncture last season.

“I feel good about where we’re at,” Truex said. “Having a shot to win at Daytona last week was cool. We went in there with the mindset of ‘We’ve got to figure out how to finish this race’ and we almost won so that was cool. We’ve got some good tracks coming up and, hopefully, we can take advantage of that and have a good summer stretch. Keeping the momentum going is the most important thing.”

Kyle Busch won the inaugural Cup race at Kentucky in 2011 and again in 2015 and has a track record with five top-fives and 549 laps led. He's won eight times at Kentucky between all series, so naturally, he's very fond of the track.

“I have a few favorite (Kentucky) moments, actually," said Busch who is 7/2 to win Saturday night. "The first time racing in the ARCA Series, I won that race a long time ago. And then just a few years ago when I was able to win the race at Kentucky in 2015 during my championship season, just coming back from injury, and that was the first of three races we won in a row. We were able to pass Joey Logano that year late in the race and go on to win – that was a fun one, too. The track that year was really wide. We were running four lanes off the bottom and that never happened before."

Busch has won has won the last two races on 1.5s. He should be the favorite this week.

The best value on the betting board this week is Brad Keselowski at 20-to-1 despite him not winning a race this season. He's like the San Francisco Giants of Kentucky Speedway -- titles in even years. He won there in 2012, 2014, and 2016. His car hasn't been as strong as then, but he was fourth at Charlotte and second at Atlanta. I'm going with him this week in a selection distorted a bit from reality mixed in with a lot of hope and wishful thinking. But I will be betting him to win anyway.

I'm also taking a shot with Almirola at 30-to-1. I'll willing to gamble a little bit that he'll be just as good as he was at Chicagoland.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #2 Brad Keselowski (20/1)
2) #18 Kyle Busch (7/2)
3) #4 Kevin Harvick (2/1)
4) #78 Martin Truex Jr (7/2)
5) #42 Kyle Larson (5/1)
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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 Preview 1 month 2 days ago #486003

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Best Bets - Kentucky
July 13, 2018
By Daniel Dobish


Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.

The MENCS heads back to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400, only the eighth-ever Cup race at the Sparta, Ky. track.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch (13/4) is not listed as the overall favorite for this weekend's race, but he probably should be. He has started all seven Cup races at the Kentucky track, posting a 5.14 Average-Finish Position (AFP) with two victories, five Top 5s and six Top 10s. He has never finished lower than 12th, and he leads all drivers with 549 laps led. According to NASCAR's Loop Data, Rowdy has posted a 123.1 Driver Rating across the past five starts while running 95.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Teammate Erik Jones (20/1) picked up a victory at Daytona last week and is a threat at Kentucky, too. He made his Cup debut at the track last season and was sixth, so JGR Toyotas are worth watching closely. Rowdy goes off fifth on Saturday night, while Jones started on the outside of Row 1.

Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. (3/1) will make noise in Kentucky. FRR, who has a technical alliance with JGR, including car chassis and engines from Toyota Racing Development, can basically be included under the JGR umbrella. As such, those are the cars to target this weekend due to their recent dominance. Toyota has been to Victory Lane four times in seven Cup races at Kentucky, with Ford and Dodge leading Penske Racing to three wins. Chevrolet has yet to claim checkers at the track in seven years. MTJ checks in with a 103.9 Driver Rating over the past five stops at the track, third among active drivers. He is the defending champion at this run, and he has four Top 10 finishes across his past six outings in Kentucky. Truex will start from the pole, and two of the seven champs have come from the top spot.

Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick (5/2) rolls into the weekend looking to maintain his Top 10 streak. He has five straight Top 10 finishes at the track, although he has yet to pick up a win at the track in a Cup car. He has led 128 laps at the track while posting a 10.0 AFP in his seven starts, but keep in mind that while he has never finished lower than 16th, he also hasn't been higher than seventh. Teammate Kurt Busch (25/1) is also worth watching, although he has yet to claim victory at the track, too. He is averaging a 12.9 AFP in seven starts, but he has managed just one Top 5 with 51 laps led. Clint Bowyer (16/1) is among the Top 5 betting options this week, but he is a risky play. Yes, he was in inferior equipment in recent seasons, so his past numbers aren't terribly telling. But he has been really, really average at this run. He has a 18.9 AFP with only one Top 10 while never running out front. Harvick is set to go off third, while the elder Busch starts ninth and Bowyer will head out from the eighth position.

Penske's Brad Keselowski (16/1) is the only driver to break up the Toyota monopoly at Kentucky, taking checkers in 2012, 2014 and 2016. His average speed of 145.607 mph in his June 2012 win still stands as the record pace for any of the seven Cup events. All three of his victories have come from a Top 10 starting position, including the pole in 2014. His races at Kentucky haven't been without adventure, however, as he was involved in a crash with Jimmie Johnson (40/1) last season, finsihing 39th. He got loose and collected the seven-time champ in a wreck, his only DNF in seven starts at Kentucky. Teammate Joey Logano (20/1) hasn't won at the track, and he hasn't been nearly as dominant as his Kes. He has just two Top 5 finishes , while ending up with a 14.0 AFP. He was a runner-up in 2015, but he ended up 39th with a DNF in 2016. Logano has been rather hard to figure at this event. Keselowski guns for his fourth-career Kentucky win from starting spot No. 4. Logano has the chance to earn plenty of place differential points if he finishes well, as he goes off from the 19th spot.

Speaking of J.J., the Hendrick Motorsports veteran has five Top 10 finishes under his belt in seven starts, but he hasn't been hitting on all cylinders in each of his past two stops. As mentioned, he was involved in an incident with Keselowski last season, winding up dead last in 40th place. That followed up a disappointing 32nd-place run in 2016, so he isn't quite as automatic as from 2011-15 when he posted a 7.4 AFP in his first five starts at the track. Hendrick's Chase Elliott (25/1) has been uneven in his two Kentucky Cup races, finishing 31st in his track debut in 2016, but he was third last season to turn some heads.

If you're looking for a sleeper, Wood Brothers Racing's Paul Menard (100/1) is considered a long shot to claim checkers, but if his qualifying and practice sessions are any indication, he could be a threat. He posted a best speed of 188.121 mph to qualify for the sixth position next to Kyle Busch. Wouldn't it be interesting to see the guy in the Menard's/Quaker State Ford Fusion run to Victory Lane in a car sponsor matching the race sponsor? He hasn't really shown signs of being a threat at Kentucky before, however, finishing 18th or better four times, and his best finish is 12th back in 2012. Bubba Wallace (500/1) isn't being given a great chance by Vegas to win on Saturday night, but he was a respectable 11th last season in his Cup debut at the track. Daniel Suarez (75/1) isn't nearly as big of a long shot in his JGR Toyota, as he looks to improve upon his 18th-place run a year ago.

Among the older drivers who can still be a threat, Chip Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray (100/1) has back-to-back seventh-place showings at the track in 2016 and 2017. Ryan Newman (100/1) is in the same boat, and his erratic history at Kentucky is why he is down the list. The Rocket Man might fare well since it is an even year, as he finished third in 2014 and third in 2016, but he was 20th in 2015 and 22nd in 2017. If you believe in trends, Newman could be a surprising low-end DFS buy.
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