The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway this weekend, and the return of a high-speed, 1.5-mile oval means another week that I won’t be shy about loading up my lineups in my season-long Fantasy NASCAR leagues.
No type of track on the schedule is more predictable and more fantasy friendly than the mile-and-a-half ovals. Yes, wrecks and mechanical issues still happen, but for the most part, you can count on the big names from the top teams delivering strong performances at tracks like Kansas.
With that in mind, I plan to be very aggressive when setting my lineups for Fantasy Live and the Driver Group game. Yes, budgeting your starts is important to ensure long-term success, but there is a time and a place. A track like Kansas isn’t one of those places.
At the very least, you need to have at least four studs in your Fatasy Live lineup. Stage points have become so important in this year’s scoring system, and you can pretty much count on some big names earning a majority of them. I also recommend using high-end Group B and Group C options in the DGG this weekend. It will be worth it.
Slingshot is always a little different because of the emphasis on place differential, and while I’ll gladly take advantage of bigger names who missed out on qualifying, I won’t be gambling on sleepers just to chase some differential points. Instead, I’m going with a more balanced lineup, focusing on stronger options lurking in the middle of the pack.
Check out all my Fantasy NASCAR picks for the KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway, and make sure to set all your lineups for Saturday night’s race.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Harvick’s starts are precious, but the 1.5-mile tracks are the place to use them. He has two wins and a second-place finish in the three races this year, and he has finished in the Top 5 in five of the six stages, winning four of them. He’s also pretty good at Kansas, and Harvick has finished third or better in five of his eight starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing. Starting on the pole, Harvick will be my pick for a clean sweep of the stages and the win.
Much like Kevin Harvick, starts from Busch are like gold in this scoring system, but I’ll use one up at Kansas. After all, he finished in the Top 5 in all four stages at the track last year, picking up two stage wins. This year, he has a 3.3 average finish at the 1.5-mile tracks, and he has earned points in all six stages thus far. Busch qualified third, so he is in prime position for another huge point total.
Kansas has quickly become one of his best tracks, and last year, Blaney logged a pair of Top 5s here and earned points in all four stages, including a stage win. He’s also shown plenty of muscle at the 1.5-mile ovals with Team Penske in this year, earning a couple of Top 5 finishes and a couple of Top 5 stage finishes through the first three races. Blaney will start on the front row Saturday, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes as a Top 3 scorer in this format.
Busch has four Top 10s in his last six starts at Kansas, and he’s really shown some upside at the mile-and-a-half tracks in 2018. He’s collected stage points in all six stages over the first three races, finishing third or better three times. Don’t sleep on the older Busch brother this weekend. Rolling off in the Top 10, he offers some serious upside.
His six Top 5s in the last 10 races at Kanas are tied for the most in the series, and perhaps more importantly, Logano has been a consistent source of stage points at the 1.5-mile tracks this year. He has earned points in all six stages so far, finishing in the Top 5 in five of them. Starting in the Top 10, more stage points should be on tap.
Garage Driver – Martin Truex Jr.
Truex isn’t on my bench because of a lack of performance. Heck, he swept both race sat Kansas last year and has two Top 5s in the three races at 1.5-mile tracks this season. However, I have used half of his allotted starts, so I’d like to save him if possible. On the flip side, I know he has the capability of going out and sweeping the stages and winning the race, so I want to have him available just in case.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
Over the last 10 races at Kansas, Harvick’s 5.9 average finish, seven Top 10s and 513 laps led are all the best in the series, and he has opened 2018 with two wins and a second-place finish in the first three races at mile-and-a-half ovals. After grabbing the pole, it is safe to say he hasn’t lost any speed. I plan on running out Harvick whenever the series visits a 1.5-mile track until he, or somebody else, gives me a reason not do.
I view Blaney as one of the most valuable Group B options, but I still think this is a track to use up one of his starts. He has finished seventh or better in four of his six Cup starts here, logging three Top 5s in his last four starts. Blaney has back-to-back Top 5 finishes at the 1.5-mile tracks heading into Saturday’s race, and I think he has a great chance to extend that streak this weekend after qualifying on the front row.
I went back and forth between Busch and Erik Jones. Both drivers have been fast at the 1.5-mile tracks all year, but Busch has had a lot more success at Kansas, logging five Top 15s and four Top 10s in his last six races. In the end, the speed Stewart-Haas has shown all year and his Top 10 starting spot were the tiebreakers.
His arrow is already pointing up, and if you take out the restrictor-plate races, Byron has cracked the Top 20 in all but one race this year. More importantly, he has five Top 15s in his last eight starts, including a Top 10 finish at Texas, the last 1.5-mile track the series visited. His Top 20 floor and Top 10 upside make Byron tough to pass up, especially after a Top 15 qualifying effort.