Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Friday 5/10/19
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By Micah Roberts
Just like an NFL team that has to play on Thursday night, the NASCAR Cup Series has a short week heading into Saturday night's Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway following Monday's race at Dover International Speedway.
“Our team’s week will be thrown off a little bit due to the extra day, but we are headed to a mile-and-a-half track where we have a lot of confidence in our intermediate program," said 2012 Kansas winner Denny Hamlin who is 20/1 betting choice this week. "We won at our last intermediate track and know we can do it again in Kansas.”
The last win Hamlin is talking about is March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile layout. This will be the fourth race of the season on a 1.5-mile layout and the fifth using the race package with engines producing 550 horsepower. The one difference between the four races at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Texas, and Fontana is that Atlanta didn't use aero ducts like the others. By the way, NASCAR made a change regarding this package on Wednesday that will put aero ducts on all races using this package.
From an oddsmaking and handicapping perspective, those four races with this package mean more than past history and two organizations have figured it out best: Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske with two wins each.
The major question coming in this week is wondering how much the other teams gained over the last six weeks since Texas. Chevrolet showed some gains at Texas after being almost non-existent in the first three with this package. Chevrolet has looked outstanding the past two weeks, but different packages were used in each. Chase Elliott gave Chevrolet its only win of the season and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman has been runner-up the past two weeks.
“We are coming off two great weekends," Bowman said. "Talladega is a superspeedway, so there is a lot of luck involved in that one. Dover, however, is just physically exhausting. We had a shot at the win and that is all that you can ask for. I have to give credit to (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the No. 88 guys. They put a great car together last weekend and they should definitely be proud of Monday’s execution. We will continue moving forward with this momentum and try to finish one spot better on Saturday night.”
Bowman's best finish with this package was 11th at Las Vegas, but there's definitely some momentum coming in and might be worth taking a shot at 60/1 odds. The HMS driver that showed the most improvements along the way with this package is three-time Kansas winner Jimmie Johnson who started form the pole at Texas, led 60 laps and finished fifth.
“It would be nice to leave Kansas as the only four-time winner there," Johnson said. "This weekend will be a bit different with the new rules package and the race being at night. I am anticipating a lot of speed, a lot of grip and a lot of action. This package promotes a lot of passing in the pack, so it should be a very charged-up race. I’m looking forward to it.”
Johnson's odds to win are posted at 25/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. His 60 laps led at Texas were more than he led the entire 2018 season.
Elliott won the fall race at Kansas last season and while his progression is similar to Bowman's the last two weeks, his best finish with this package was ninth at Las Vegas.
The youngest of the HMS drivers, William Byron (80/1), was sixth at Texas leading 15 laps. He also won a Truck Series race at Kansas in 2016.
Texas is the same distance as Kansas, but the progressive banking in the turns at Kansas is 17 to 20 degrees compared to Texas at 20 degrees between turns 1 and 2 and 24 degrees in turns 3 and 4. But the comparisons are still relevant just because it's the last time the series raced the 550 HP package.
“Our cars ran fine at Texas," Kevin Harvick said. "Obviously, we had some isolated problems. Our cars from the Stewart-Haas standpoint haven’t won a race, but they ran fine at Texas. We’ve been in contention. We were plenty good at Bristol and Richmond, so it’s really just a detail thing at this point to get one of them to victory lane.”
Harvick won this race last season, the third of his career to tie a track record. His 9.6 average finish in 26 starts is the best among all active drivers. He's led laps in 10 of his last 11 starts at Kansas and has led 751 laps overall. His worst finish in his last 17 starts there was 16th and 10 of those starts he finished sixth or better.
If there's a track he can break through in the win column, it's certainly Kansas. His win last season gave him five wins through 12 races. But this season he hasn't had dominant cars and if we use Texas as an example he was only eighth while his SHR teammates did very well with Clint Bowyer finishing second and Daniel Suarez coming in third.
Bowyer might be a driver to throw into your wagering plan this week at 18/1 odds because of the way he was reeling in Hamlin at Texas. He also finished fifth at Atlanta and the last reason to take a shot with him is that this is the Emporia, KS native's home track. He's dying to win there.
“I’ve said before that if we ever win at Kansas, I probably wouldn’t be in very good shape for Mother’s Day,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “We would probably have to postpone that to Monday. It would be huge to win at home and finally seal the deal after all this time. It would be ultra-special. This is where all my family and friends and people who helped me get to where I am today all live, in the area, and it would be cool to celebrate that with them. I think probably everybody would have an open invite.”
Joining Hamlin with wins using this package was Brad Keselowski at Atlanta, Joey Logano at Las Vegas and Kyle Busch at Fontana.
Busch comes in as the 7/2 favorite because he's got eight straight top-10 s at Kansas, including his lone win there in 2016. He's also finished in the top-10 of all 11 races to start the season to tie a NASCAR record. He's aware of it and says the team is having fun with it. His three wins this season lead the series.
Between Busch, Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr., JGR has seven wins on the season. For Truex, surprisingly he doesn't have a win on a 1.5-mile layout, the type of track he won a Cup Championship with. He won at Dover last week and grabbed his first short track win at Richmond. He swept the 2017 season and was runner-up in this race last season and fifth in the fall. On about six different occasions over his career, he's had the best car at Kansas. His best finish this season with this package was runner-up at Atlanta (no aero ducts). No other top-fives on the other three.
Keselowski's lone Kansas win was 2011 and he was 14th in this race last season and sixth in the fall. But his best reason to bet him is first-place at Atlanta, runner-up at Las Vegas and third at Fontana.
For the same reasons, I like his teammate Logano to fare well. In addition to winning two Xfinity Series races at Kansas, he's also got two Cup wins. Since moving to Penske in 2013 he's been a force at Kansas in almost every starts. Seven of his last 11 starts have been top-fives. He was third last spring and eighth in the fall. After winning at Las Vegas this season using this package he finished second at Fontana.
Although I believe Chevrolet is getting better and Stewart-Haas will win soon, I still believe the Penske duo and JGR have an edge.
Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #22 Joey Logano (7/1)
2) #18 Kyle Busch (7/2)
3) #2 Brad Keselowski (7/1)
4) #9 Chase Elliott (10/1)
5) #19 Martin Truex Jr. (7/1)
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By Dan 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 returns to Kansas Speedway for the Digital Ally 400 on Saturday with a green flag drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. The weather forecast for suburban Kansas City on Saturday night calls for just a 20 percent chance of precipitation with temperatures in the mid-50's, after initially looking for calling for 40-45 percent chance of rain a couple of days ago. The forecast is improving, and it looks like we'll get a race without any interruptions.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch (7/2) is the race favorite heading into Kansas. He has 22 starts under his belt at Kansas, posting a victory, six top-5 finishes, 10 top-10 showings and 327 laps led with an Average-Finish Position (AFP) of 16.3. NASCAR's Loop Data shows him in second place among active drivers, posting a 114.7 Driver Rating over the past five Kansas starts, leading 171 laps while running a circuit-best 97.2 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He was angry after the new rules package at Dover International Speedway. An angry Kyle Busch is generally not good for the remainder of the field.
Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick (13/2) heads into Saturday's race with a 126.0 Driver Rating over the past five Kansas starts, running 95.1 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He has led 276 laps during the five-race span with an AFP of 5.0. Harvick has made 26 career Cup starts at Kansas, winning three times with eight finishes inside the Top 5, and 23 of his 26 finishes resulting in a top-20 showing. He leads all active drivers with 751 laps led, and he tops the charts with a 9.7 AFP. While Harvick hasn't exactly been hitting on all cylinders like he was during his dominant 2018 MENCS season, he is still never one to discredit or forget. Clint Bowyer (20/1), who is a Kansas native, has yet to break through at his home track. However, he has a respectable 16.6 AFP across 21 career starts while registering 15 of his 21 starts inside the Top 20 while leading 51 laps.
Hendrick Motorsport's driver and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson (22/1) has been discredited quite frequently this season. Perhaps Kansas is where he can end his lengthy race-win drought. In 25 career starts, he has three wins with nine top-5 finishes, 17 top-10 runs and 601 laps led while posting an outstanding 10.5 AFP. Like most other tracks recently, he has gone downhill a little bit, averaging a 19.0 AFP over his past four Kansas starts, so it remains to be seen if he can turn it around or continue on his mediocre trajectory. Don't sleep on Chase Elliott (9/1), who has six Cup starts under his belt. He won the fall race in October at Kansas, and half of his finishes have resulted in a Top 10 finish or better, with an AFP of 14.3.
Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski (13/2) and Joey Logano (15/2) could make a little noise at Kansas. Logano won both the October races in 2014 and 2015 at Kansas, and he has seven top-5 finishes and eight top-10 showings in his 19 career starts at the tri-oval. Keselowski has a lone win in 18 career Kansas starts, leading 203 laps while managing three top-5 finishes, nine top-10 runs and a sparkling 12.8 AFP, third-best among all active drivers with at least two starts. He and Logano each tend to qualify well at this track. Last season, Logano averaged a 5.5 AFP in two starts, and he ranks fifth in Driver Rating (96.6) across the past five Kansas races despite the fact he has run just 72.1 percent of his laps inside the Top 15.
Ryan Blaney (9/1)might end up being the best performer of the trio. There is something about Kansas that seems to scratch his itch. In eight-career Cup starts at Kansas he has managed three top-5 finishes, five top-10 showings and a 13.0 AFP with 154 laps led. Loop Data shows him with a 106.5 Driver Rating, fourth-best among all active drivers while running 88.2 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while leading 149 laps.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Martin Truex Jr. (11/2), the winner last weekend at Dover, has posted two victories at Kansas over 21 career starts while registering eight top-5 finishes, nine top-10 showings and 726 laps led, which is second-most among all active drivers. He comes in on a roll with four consecutive top-5 showings, including a pair of victories during the 2017 season. He has registered a 114.6 Driver Rating across the past five Kansas starts, while running 92.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. His JGR teammate Denny Hamlin (20/1), who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning during his run at Dover last week, has managed a 88.4 Driver Rating over his past five Kansas starts. He has led just six laps during the span. Overlal he has a win, six top-5 finishes and seven top-10 finishes with a 15.6 AFP.
Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson (11/1) checks in sixth with a 94.5 Driver Rating over the past five Kansas starts, leading 101 laps during the span. Outside of a DNF in the fall race in 2017, Larson has managed finishes of sixth or better in three of the past four outings in Kansas. His teammate Kurt Busch (22/1) has never won at Kansas in 22 starts, but he has three top-5 finishes and nine top-10 showings while posting a 16.1 AFP and 327 laps. In the past three starts he has an AFP of 9.3, so a top-10 run might be a good bet.
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