Post Practice Fantasy NASCAR Predictions: Kansas 2 – Hollywood Casino 400 (2013 Chase Race #4)
And Then There Were Two
Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 will be the third Sprint Cup event held on the new surface at Kansas Speedway, and if Saturday’s practice sessions were any indication we could have a wacky race on our hands this weekend. Owing to its name, the event has always given out random 10 Free No Deposit casino bonuses to lucky spectators in a draw, and this year, it has decided to up the ante.
I think there were more drivers that didn’t spin out than those who did, and some definitely got more damage than others: Kurt and Kyle Busch both had to go to backup cars and will start the race from the rear on Sunday. For full practice results, click here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour. Once again this week, speeds from the first practice (held on Friday) are next to worthless. For our exclusive practice notes, click here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour. Kevin Harvick won his first Cup pole since 2006 and will lead the field to the green along with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. The full starting lineup for the Hollywood Casino 400 can be found by clicking here.
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Final Top 15 Ranking For The Hollywood Casino 400:
*Chase drivers marked in red*
11. Joey Logano – Starts 5th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: High Risk**
Logano’s history here at Kansas Speedway is discouraging to say the least. In eight career starts at this venue, he has averaged a finish of 26.1 and has never ended up better than 15th. Not exactly what fantasy owners want to see. Still, I’m willing to look past that. Logano has emerged as one of the better intermediate track drivers this season and I don’t see why he can’t post a career-best finish at Kansas in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400–assuming this team can adjust on the car. He starts 5th, which is always good, and was 10th on the Practice #2 speed chart. Then Happy Hour hit and the #22 Ford went south. Logano ended up 20th-fastest in that final practice session with the worst ten-lap average (although he made that run at the end of the session and could have been on old tires or something). This team could have been testing something because teammate Brad Keselowski had plenty of speed. Assuming a version of the #2 setup gets put in the #22 before the green flag waves on Sunday, Logano should be good to go. There’s some risk there, though, because Joey has had great qualifying efforts here (this will be the fifth time he’s started inside the top 8 in nine career starts) but always disappoints in the race. Because of that, the fact that Happy Hour wasn’t ideal for him, and because this team has regressed over the past month, I’m putting Logano in the “High Risk” category for Sunday.
12. Brian Vickers – Starts 9th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
In Happy Hour it was noted that Vickers thought they were just a few adjustments away from making his car “perfect.” There’s nothing else I like to hear more out of a driver’s mouth than that word. Now, how much can you trust Vickers? He was in Denny Hamlin’s #11 ride here last time around and finished 31st, but it should be noted that Mark Martin piloted this #55 Toyota to a solid top 10 in that race. Vickers had another good run at Dover last weekend and actually had a decent qualifying session this weekend at Kansas and will start Sunday’s event in 11th. As far as practice, Brian was 7th in Practice #2 and ended up 9th-quick in Happy Hour. Vickers has six top 20s in eight career starts at Kansas with a career-best finish of 8th, which came in 2006 while with Hendrick Motorsports.
13. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 13th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
One of the more disappointing drivers thus far through this weekend at Kansas has been Martin Truex, Jr. He’s on a three-race streak of top 5 finishes at this track so I was definitely scratching my head a bit when Truex qualified 13th on Friday and then had just the 21st-fastest lap in Happy Hour. In Practice #2, the #56 Toyota was just 14th-fastest. This team seems to be hitting a slump (they’ve finished 10th or worse in all three Chase races) but the results are still somewhat solid. Still, we’ve come to expect more out of Truex, especially at his better tracks. I know he has the talent to run top 5 in the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday but I’m not sure the #56 Toyota has the power. All of the MWR cars are lagging a bit this weekend so unless they really hit on something on Saturday night/Sunday morning, there are probably going to be a lot of disappointed fantasy owners come Monday.
14. Ryan Newman – Starts 17th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
“The Rocketman” ended up 14th here back in April and I’m expecting something similar out of him on Sunday as well. Newman qualified 17th on Friday but has a little better car than that in race trim, in my opinion. The #39 Chevrolet was 21st in Practice #2 on Saturday but bumped it up to 13th-quick in Happy Hour. What I liked the most was Newman’s ten-lap average during that final session, which was 3rd-best behind Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson. Ryan is averaging 33.7 points per race in the Chase this season and you should expect a similar result on Sunday. He won here back in 2003 if that’s worth anything to you.
15. Clint Bowyer – Starts 22nd – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Clint Bowyer has finished 7th or better in three of last four Cup races at Kansas Speedway but I just don’t see him ending up anywhere around there in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400. He qualified 22nd on Friday, which is becoming typical out of this #15 team, and was 17th-fastest in Happy Hour after posting the 9th-best lap in 2nd Practice. Bowyer never made a run of ten laps or more, though, and despite the fact that he has two top 10s in the last three weeks, Clint still isn’t running as well as he could be right now. This weekend specifically, all three of the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas are just middle-of-the-road, in my opinion, which isn’t typical of them at this track. Bowyer can be counted on for a solid top 15 on Sunday but I wouldn’t expect much more. Then again, this is his home track so maybe that will motivate Bowyer to step his game up a bit.
A Few Words About Other Drivers:
Greg Biffle is even more lost than normal this weekend. The frustrating thing with this team is that they’re usually going to be either really good or really bad. It’s encouraging that Edwards and Stenhouse were both so fast during the practice sessions on Saturday, but going into the Hollywood Casino 400 I think Biffle is going to have a hard time finishing even top 15. He’s ended up 27th and 19th in the two events on the new pavement. He’s my fools gold pick of the week. Juan Montoya looked impressive during the practice sessions on Saturday after qualifying 12th for Sunday’s race. He was 3rd-quickest in 2nd Practice and posted the 6th-best lap in Happy Hour. He’s finished 17th or better in three of the last five Kansas races so if you need a sleeper, go with the #42. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Danica Patrick didn’t look too terrible on the speed charts Saturday (13th in 2nd Practice, 16th in Happy Hour). If you’re in a league where you need to go real deep in the driver pool, I’d consider giving her a shot. Danica ran 25th here the last time around. Everyone is going to be focused on Kyle Busch on Sunday because if his struggles continue in the race, we’re going to be down a two-man Chase. There’s no one I like more than Rowdy to come from the back, but I don’t particularly like him at Kansas Speedway. In 12 career starts here he has an average finish of 22.4 and he’s never posted a top 5. If he can stay out of trouble and finds some speed throughout the race, I think Kyle can finish top 10, but he hasn’t shown much speed at all this entire weekend, both in the primary and backup cars. Speaking of backup cars, Kurt Busch will be joining brother Kyle in the rear on Sunday because he wrecked his primary car as well. I actually like the #78 a little better than the #18 this week because Kurt was faster in final practice. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Kurt running top 15 on Sunday despite the poor starting spot. Last but not least, Denny Hamlin starts 10th but will have a hard time even running top 15. I keep telling you to avoid the #11 week in and week out just in case there’s one lone Hamlin supporter still holding out hope for him to salvage the season.