Quaker State 400 Preview

Volusia County, FL officials have announced several alleged hit-and-runs occurring in Daytona Beach on Saturday. Eyewitnesses are describing the perpetrator as a short, stocky, white male in a blue #17 Ford. Local authorities say the path of destruction began Saturday morning at a Starbucks drive-thru, with bystanders calling the encounter “pure road rage” and “inexplicable terror.” A half-finished cafe latte with “Ricky” scribbled on the purchase receipt was later found at the scene. A second incident at Tia Cori’s Tacos on Beach Street was reported around 3 pm, and several additional reports of aggressive contact at Daytona International Speedway continued to flood in throughout the evening, keeping locals on edge. Sheriff”s deputies are asking for help identifying this vehicle, specifically citing a sticker on the rear bumper of the car with the message “IF UR NOT 1ST, UR LAST.” The car was last spotted across state lines, heading north on I-75 near the Waffle House in Tifton, GA. If you have any information, please contact the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department.

KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY

Kentucky Speedway is another 1.5 mile intermediate tri-oval, similar to what we’ve seen previously at Chicago and Kansas. There have only been 7 total Cup events at this track since it was first added to the schedule in 2011, which means additional experience in the Xfinity series is probably worth considering for several drivers this weekend. The track itself was recently repaved and reconfigured in preparation for the 2016 season, so we’ve really only seen 2 races on the latest incarnation (keep that in mind for your research as well). The reconfiguration narrowed the width in turns 1 & 2 from 72 to 56 feet to give extra room to cars leaving pit road, and turn 3 has garnered quick fame for being one of the most challenging turns on the schedule, or so the commercials will have us believe. The leader has historically preferred the outside line on restarts, but most drivers will be protecting the yellow line on the bottom of the track once the cars get spread out. Fun facts: Chevrolet has yet to go to victory lane in this series at Kentucky, and in regard to Jeff Gordon’s trophy case, Kentucky is the one track that got away. In fact, only 4 drivers have wins here: Brad Keselowski (3), Kyle Busch (2), Matt Kenseth (1), and Martin Truex (1).

PIT STALL PICKS: THE DOWNFORCE, THE DRAFT, & THE DRAG

This section is less about prognostication, and more about highlighting drivers catching my eye at a given moment. We all play in different formats and have different strategies, but hopefully this adds some value to your results. Harvick, Truex, and Kyle Busch have been purposely omitted because they are obvious options each week. Good luck!

THE DOWNFORCE (start ’em)

Brad Keselowski – Brad is a 3-time winner at Kentucky in 7 attempts. One of those wins was the first race on the new configuration, so we know he still knows how to get around here. Brad finished 9th at Chicago and 14th at Kansas, which does cause some concern with their consistency (or lack thereof) this season. High risk/reward with 2018 considered, in my opinion.

Kyle Larson – Kyle might be the best option this weekend outside of the “big 3” I don’t talk about anymore (I can still hint at them). Kyle finished 2nd at Kentucky last season, 4th at Kansas, and 2nd at Chicago. This team needs to get a win soon, and this is a really good opportunity to come in 2nd again.

Joey Logano – Outside of a 39th place finish in 2016 due to an accident after 52 laps, this team has been a fairly consistent contender at Kentucky. The #22 finished 8th at Chicago and 3rd at Kentucky, and I anticipate they’ll secure another top-10 finish with average stage points.

Kurt Busch – Kurt is a step down from the aforementioned options, but not by much. The #41 has been having a great season, finishing half of the races in the top-10 thus far. Kurt’s 30th place finish due to engine trouble last year is an outlier, as he was averaging a 10th place finish at Kentucky prior to that. Kurt earned 36 points at Chicago and 35 at Kansas, which is around where I’d expect him again at Kentucky.

Denny Hamlin – Denny is another candidate for mid-30s points. He finished 4th in this race last season, 7th at Chicago, and 5th at Kansas. Being a teammate to the #18 can’t hurt any of the Gibbs drivers this weekend, unless they keep shooting themselves in the foot with stupid mistakes on pit road…

THE DRAFT (dark horse)

Erik Jones – Sky high from his first-ever Cup win, I expect the #20 team to carry this new momentum into playoff preparation mode, and a refreshed focus on the season. Besides, Jones finished 6th at Chicago a couple weeks ago, 7th at Kansas back in May, and 6th in his first race at Kentucky last year. 60% top-5 and 80% top-10 in the Xfinity races at Kentucky help support a play here.

THE DRAG (use caution)

Clint Bowyer – I really like Clint and I’m happy to see him having a lot of success this season, but this has not been his best track. While I think he’s on a whole other level this season compared to years prior, here are his results; you be the judge. 35th, 16th, 3rd, 23rd, 19th, 23rd, and 13th in 2017. He finished 5th at Chicago and 15th at Kansas.

AVERAGE FINISH POSITION @ KENTUCKY (last 5 track events)

5.0, #18 Kyle Busch
6.0, #20 Erik Jones (1 race)
7.0, #6 Matt Kenseth
8.6, #4 Kevin Harvick
10.8, #78 Martin Truex Jr.

AVERAGE LOOP RATING @ KENTUCKY (last 5 track events)

123.1, #18 Kyle Busch
110.5 #4 Kevin Harvick
109.6, #6 Matt Kenseth
103.9, #78 Martin Truex Jr.
102.7, #20 Erik Jones

2018 PTS MOMENTUM (last 5 overall races this season)

41.4, #4 Kevin Harvick
39.8, #78 Martin Truex Jr.
35.2, #18 Kyle Busch
34.6, #14 Clint Bowyer
32.4, #42 Kyle Larson

Dan Roman Contributor|User role
Dan Roman is an opinion writer, content contributor, and league manager from Charlotte, North Carolina – the proud home of NASCAR! Dan is passionate about furthering the reach of NASCAR, and expanding its base of fans and fantasy players everywhere. In his spare time, Dan enjoys simulator racing on iRacing.com, and learning the nuances of motorsports; including racing physics, setup configurations, strategy, and history. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NASCAR Pools Online.

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