After a wild-card race last weekend at Daytona, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at Kentucky Speedway. Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 will be just the eighth Cup race held at the track, but it will be the seventh race of 2018 that has been held at a mile-and-a-half oval.
A trip to a 1.5-mile oval is always a chance to post a big score in fantasy leagues, and depending on how Daytona treated you, Saturday’s race could be just what the doctor ordered. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch have been called the “Big 3” for much of this season, and the gap between themselves and everyone else has been at its widest at the 1.5-mile ovals.
The success at 1.5-mile tracks extends beyond just the top drivers to the top teams as a whole. Kyle Larson is a bit of an outlier, but the other 11 drivers ranked in the Top 12 in points scored at the mile-and-a-half tracks this year all associated with Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing.
In other words, you don’t usually find a lot of great sleeper plays at 1.5-mile tracks, and these tracks also tend to be the safest spots to utilize the top drivers. Needless to say, I like to be aggressive when building my lineups, especially in the Driver Group Game and Fantasy Live. We have another road course, New Hampshire, Pocono and Bristol on tap in the coming weeks. There will be opportunities to save starts from the top options. Don’t overthink your lineups this weekend.
He has been the best in the business at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, compiling a series-best 3.7 average finish in the six races. His three wins are tied for the most, and he is the only driver with Top 10s in all six races. Busch has also been the best at Kentucky. He has two wins here, and his 5.1 average finish and five Top 5s in seven starts are the best of any driver. Start him across all fantasy formats Saturday night.
Harvick has three wins, five Top 5s and a series-best 600 laps led in six races at mile-and-a-half-tracks this year. He has also finished 11th or better in the last six races at Kentucky, and he led 128 laps here in 2016. The one red flag is the fact that he has never had a top-five finish at this track. I still expect him to be an excellent option in Fantasy Live and in DFS formats, but I will probably lean toward Kyle Busch as my Group A pick in the Driver Group Game.
Truex is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, leading a race-high 152 laps in a dominating performance. He has continued to be a stud at the mile-and-a-half tracks this year, and his five Top 5s through the first six races are tied for the most in the series. Dial him up in any and all formats.
He has been rock solid at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, posting an 11.3 average finish and notching four Top 10s in six races. Keselowski also has incredible numbers at Kentucky. His three wins here lead all drivers, and he has led the second-most laps at the track. He looks like a no-brainer play in Fantasy Live and a potential source of dominator points in DFS formats.
After three poor outings at Kentucky, Larson was the runner-up here a year ago. He’s also been stout at the 1.5-mile ovals in 2018, logging five Top 10s in six races. Larson has really been coming on strong recently, leading 101 laps and finishing fourth at Kansas and nearly winning at Chicagoland. He’s an elite option in any format.