It’s time to head to the second race of the round of 12, and the second 1.5 mile track in a row, Kansas Speedway. Jimmie Johnson showed he is still a force to be reckoned with in last week’s delayed race at Charlotte. He left little doubts that not only can he still win, but also he could do so this week.
“Heading into Kansas, the win in Charlotte certainly opens up the possibility for whatever opportunities may present themselves,” Johnson said. “We can go there to race and to win without pressure. The win at Charlotte also allows me go to Talladega and not worry about anything, which is fantastic. I can just get up in the race and mix it up, and race hard. We’ve also been very competitive at Texas, Martinsville, so good things ahead for us.”
Here are my favorites for Sunday’s 31st race of the year for your betting or fantasy racing leagues. Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2016 races (17 total) among active drivers at Kansas Speedway. The Driver Rating is a number based on a formula developed by NASCAR which combines “loop data” elements such as average running position, average speed under green, number of fastest laps, and other stats. There is a maximum of 150 points that a driver can earn for each race. The odds are current as of Wednesday.
Jimmie Johnson (5-1). Johnson looks to be the driver to beat this Sunday. He leads all active drivers with three wins here the last coming in the fall of 2015. He has the highest driver rating in the field, 110.4, and the momentum of his Charlotte win. He wouldn’t be the first driver to sweep an entire round, that honor belongs to Joey Logano, who did so last year, but Johnson could be the second to do so.
Matt Kenseth (12-1). Kenseth finished second last Sunday and has two wins here. He has the second highest driver rating in the field, 107.4, and led the most laps in this race last year, 153, only to be punted out of the way by Logano late in the going. Kenseth will be looking for redemption and a pass to the next round in the Chase and could do so Sunday.
Kyle Busch (8-1). Busch won here in the spring, and was fifth in this race last season. His driver rating isn’t all that hot, 83.8, 17th among the field, but with his last two performances at Kansas including his win here the first time the series visited, he can’t be counted out.
Kevin Harvick (7-2). Harvick is in a near must win situation. Mechanical issues at Charlotte leaves him in a desperate situation needing to win to advance. With the uncertainty of Talladega, the best chance Harvick has to get that much needed victory is at Kansas. He did win here in the fall of 2013 and was second here in the spring. He has the third best driver rating in the field, 103.4, and a pretty decent shot of visiting victory lane Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. (7-2). Truex hoped to dominate the field at Charlotte last week, just as he did there last May. That didn’t happen, but he did run strong almost all day. He has never won here, but if he can dominate on the 1.5-mile speedway, or at least run strong and avoid pit road issues, Truex could be the one to beat Sunday.
OTHERS: Chase Elliott (10-1). Elliott looked very strong early in the race at Charlotte, only to crash out through no fault of his own. He only has one start here, that coming in the spring when he finished 9th, and his driver rating of 79.3, 20th in the field ,isn’t all that stellar, but if he can show the same prowess he had last week, and avoid trouble, Elliott could pull off a win Sunday. Brad Keselowski (12-1) won at Kansas in the fall of 2011, and has the 10th best driver rating in the field, 91.6. He looked strong at times last Sunday, and could be strong on the 1.5-mile Kansas track this Sunday.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 will be run on Sunday, October 16. Live coverage will be on NBC starting at 1:30 p.m. ET with the green flag coming just after 2:15 p.m. ET.