1) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 3rd)
Kentucky Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick should be on your short list of favorites at Kentucky. He’s a super-elite performer at 1.5 mile tracks and he’s been strong in both races on the current Kentucky configuration. “Performance Wise” in both of his starts on the current layout he’s been top 5 good. This year at 1.5 mile tracks minus Charlotte he has three wins, has finished in the top 3 every race, has a 1.6 average finish and has a 3.6 average running position. In practice, I thought Kevin Harvick looked extremely strong. In Happy Hour he started with a 20 lap run and his lap #20 was 1 MPH quicker than Blaney’s. In both sessions on Friday his ten lap average ranked as the third best. On Saturday night I would look for Harvick to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Kentucky Track History – At Kentucky, Kevin Harvick has been a strong performer and in the two races on the current configuration he has back to back 9th. In both of those races he was better than his result. Last year Harvick had a strong showing. He earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position, finished 4th in the first two Stages and then finished 9th when the checkered flag waved. I will note if there wasn’t a late caution he was poised to finish 5th (Was caught speeding on pit road). In 2016 Harvick was extremely strong. When the race reached its he earned the best driver rating, led a race high 128 laps and finished 9th. If fuel mileage didn’t enter the equation he has a lock for a top 3 finish.
DraftKings $11,600 / FanDuel $12,500
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 1st)
Kentucky Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. is the defending champion at Kentucky and on Saturday night he’ll be tough to beat. Last year he put on a display of domination and nobody had anything for him. I don’t think he’ll be quite as strong, but I think he’ll finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win. This year at 1.5 mile tracks which correlate to success he’s been extremely strong. At these venues minus Texas he’s finished in the top five every race and has a 3.4 average finish. One attribute I like about Truex Jr. is his momentum. Since May he’s only finished outside the top 4 once. In Practice #1, Truex Jr. had the 2nd best average speed.
Kentucky Track History – Last year at Kentucky, Truex Jr. was the class of the field and he easily raced his way to victory lane. With 15 laps to go he had a 14.1 second lead. In addition to finishing first he won the first two Stages, earned a near perfect driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 152 laps. In 2016, Truex Jr. was very strong. He earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position, finished 10th and led 46 laps. Strength wise he was easily top five good but he got a costly pit road penalty while running in 2nd and then fuel mileage entered the equation late.
DraftKings $11,200 / FanDuel $12,500
Further Recommended Reading: Starting Lineup, Kentucky Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Likely Finish Ranges, DraftKings Playability Value Chart, FanDuel Playability Value Chart, Practice #1 Notes, Happy Hour Notes, Practice #1 Speeds, Happy Hour Speeds, Fantasy NASCAR Start Page, DraftKings Start Page, FanDuel Start Page
3) Kyle Busch (Starting – 5th)
Kentucky Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch will be a favorite to win at Kentucky, at worst I think he’ll finish in the top five. He’s run extremely well on the new Kentucky surface and this year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s been a super-elite performer. When you combine those two variables it’s clear he’ll be a factor. This year at similar 1.5 mile tracks Kyle Busch has been impressive. He’s won half the races, has the best average finish (3.7), the best average running position (5.2) and is the only driver who’s finished in the top ten every race. At the last two 1.5 mile tracks visited he’s raced his way to victory lane, on Saturday night I think he has a great chance to get his third straight win. In practice #1, Kyle Busch had the 2nd best ten lap average.
Kentucky Track History – Kyle Busch has been strong at Kentucky and in the two races on the current configuration he’s been a top five contender.. Last year he had a great performance from the pole. When the checkered flag waved he finished 5th, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position, led 112 laps and finished 2nd in the first two Stages. “Performance Wise”, Busch had the 3rd best car (PROS Rankings) but late restarts hurt him. In 2016 Busch ran well but finished a misleading 12th. Performance wise he was top five good but fuel strategy at the end hurt him. Additionally, Busch earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position.
DraftKings $11,000 / FanDuel $12,500