The Monster Energy Cup Series will be racing at Kentucky on Saturday night. Kentucky was repaved for last year’s race, and was again repaved for this year’s race because the track owners weren’t happy with the surface. The track changes leading up to 2016 were huge, so for fantasy purposes only last year’s race carries fantasy relevance now.
Qualifying was held on Friday with only the first two segments being run because of impending weather. Here’s the Starting Lineup. Two notable things from qualifying are that Kyle Larson didn’t get out on the track to make a run (didn’t get thru inspection) and Ryan Newman will be starting in the rear of the field because of an engine change. Two practice sessions were also held on Friday. Here’s speeds for Practice #1 and Happy Hour. Our Practice Notes for those sessions can be found here (Practice #1 and Happy Hour).
Also this is a combined Confidence Rankings / Post Practice Predictions post. It will resume as normal next week so thanks for understanding.
Final Top 25 Ranking For The Kentucky Quaker State 400
1) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 2nd)
Kentucky Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. will be a favorite to win on Saturday night. He had a great car last year at Kentucky and this season at 1.5 mile tracks he’s been the class of the field. Over the five combined races at 1.5 mile tracks he has the best average finish (4.2), best average running position (4.0), best driver rating, has led the most laps and has run the most fastest laps. In the last two races at these venues he’s had the dominant car. In practice Truex Jr. was fast. In the first session when he was in race trim his ten lap average ranked as the 3rd best and his overall speed ranked as the second best. On Saturday night I think it’s clear he’ll be top five good and compete for the win.
Kentucky Track History – Martin Truex Jr. had a strong car at Kentucky last year but finished an asterisk mark 10th. Late in the race while he was running in 2nd he got a costly pit penalty which dropped him back to the teens. Then at the very end he decided to pit for fuel. In addition to finishing 10th he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position and led 10 laps. In our exclusive PROS Rankings he was ranked as having the 3rd best car.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,400
2) Kyle Busch (Starting – 1st)
Kentucky Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch will be tough to beat at Kentucky. He’s been knocking on the door to victory lane in recent weeks and eventually it will open. Since May he’s scored the most points, has finished in the top five 50% percent of the time and has a series best 8.4 average finish. In the two races at 1.5 mile tracks visited over this stretch he had results of 2nd (Charlotte) and 5th (Kansas). Last year at Kentucky Busch ran well and was top five good but finished a misleading 12th. In practice #1 when Kyle Busch was in race trim he had the best ten lap average and the 5th best overall speed. On Saturday night I would look for him to compete for a top five and be a factor to win.
Kentucky Track History – Kyle Busch was very strong last year at Kentucky. He was top five good but the fuel mileage aspect at the end worked to his detriment and led to a 12th place finish. In our PROS Rankings he’s ranked as having the 5th best car. Additionally in the race he earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,200
3) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 7th)
Kentucky Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick will be one of the drivers to beat at Kentucky. He had a strong showing last year and had one of the best cars. That should be a precursor to him having another strong showing on Saturday night. This year at 1.5 mile tracks minus Las Vegas where he had trouble he has a 6.0 average finish and a 5.0 average running position. Texas is freshly repaved just like Kansas and earlier this year at that venue he was very fast, finishing 4th and leading 77 laps.
Kentucky Track History – Last year at Kentucky Harvick was one of the drivers to beat. He had a fast car that handled well throughout the event. When the checkered flag waved he earned the best driver rating, led a race high 128 laps and finished 9th. If fuel mileage didn’t enter the equation late he has a lock for a top 3 finish.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $9,800