Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola should be on your fantasy NASCAR radar at Kentucky. This year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s proven to be a very solid performer. At these venues minus Texas (crashed) and Chicagoland (engine) he has an 11.3 average finish, an 11.0 average running position and has finished between 9th to 13th every race. On Saturday night I expect him to have another solid showing and finish around that range. I will note that at Chicagoland, the last 1.5 mile track visited a good case could be made that he had the strongest car but unfortunately his race wasn’t incident free. Last year at Kentucky, Almirola missed the race due to injury. In 2016 in his lone start on the current configuration he didn’t have a great race. He finished 20th, had an 18th place average running position and earned the 17th best driver rating.
Chase Elliott – At Kentucky I would look for Chase Elliott to be about a 10th place driver. This year at 1.5 mile tracks in 4 of the 6 races he’s finished between 10th and 12th. At tracks of this length minus Las Vegas where he crashed he has a 12.6 average finish and an 11.8 average running position. At Kentucky, Chase Elliott has run well and has been a top ten contender in both races. Last year he ran very well. When the checkered flag waved he finished 3rd, earned the 5th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position. Additionally he finished 10th in the first two Stages. I will note he did use some pit strategy late but being the first driver to pit during the final pit cycle so I would say he was realistically around 7th place good. In 2016 Chase Elliott showed potential and ran well but was taken out in an accident while running around 5th.
Jimmie Johnson – At Kentucky, I would look for Jimmie Johnson to have a solid performance. In the last two races at 1.5 mile tracks he’s been running a little better. He finished 5th at Charlotte and 14th at Chicagoland. On Saturday night I think he’ll be a low-double digits driver who’ll compete for a top ten. At Kentucky on the current surface Johnson has showed top ten potential in both races but neither was incident free. Last year at Kentucky, Jimmie Johnson had a short race and finished dead last. On lap 88 during the Stage #2 caution restart he wrecked while running just outside the top ten. In Stage #1 Johnson crossed the finish line in 9th. In 2016 at Kentucky there was no fantasy lessons to be learned by watching Johnson. On lap 32 shortly after a restart he got loose and wrecked while running in the top ten which led to his 32nd place finish.