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Quaker State 400 at Kentucky 

Saturday 7:30pm TNT

Last night if you watched the Nationwide race you saw some great racing action. There are plenty of opportunities to pass on this track mostly by outbreaking someone in the corners. This 1.5 mile tri-oval track is relatively flat so you should see guys riding around on the bottom in the corners. Some will try and make a pass on the outside which is tough to make the car stick when getting back into the gas while others will try and dive bomb the bottom heading into the corner. 

Unfortunately last night’s NNS race was shortened due to rain and that may be the case again tonight (god forbid they use the Air Titan, cheap pricks). Teams will certainly be keeping a close eye on the radar before making any pit road decisions. As of now it looks like we may be in for another rain shortened race whether it ends tonight or tomorrow at some point. That being said maybe Dale Jr. can actually win one... nah probably not.

This is one of the newer tracks on the circuit having been built in 2000 while having it’s inaugural NASCAR cup race in 2011. Since they only have one per year here teams are still collecting data and trying to figure this track out with every lap run. Practice is a bit more important than most weeks as is the pit crews and especially the crew chiefs.

Also important this week will be the success of teams at similar tracks. Since they have so little information to go off of at this particular track they will be looking to tracks like Kansas and Chicagoland.

Obviously only two drivers have recorded wins here, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.

Stay Away From:

Kyle Busch 5.5-1

He was my pick to win this thing until I got about halfway done writing this column. Kyle has been completely hit or miss this year. He has 10 top 6 finishes to go along with his 7 finishes outside the top 22 including 5 finishes outside the top 33.

He is one of just four guys with multiple wins yet finds himself back in 8th place in the standings just 16 points ahead of 11th place. Those two wins certainly give him the inside track to a wild card at the very least but that’s obviously not something he is happy with.

Yes he won here last year but his record is spotty at best at Kansas, the track that is most similar to Kentucky. At Kansas Kyle has the 31st best average finish among active drivers with a 22.42. In twelve races there he has zero top 5’s and only two top 10 finishes.

He needs to start being more consistent if he wants to make a legit push at winning a title. He has been fast here this weekend though. He had a fast car in practice good for the third best behind the #99 and the #48.

With him starting 4th my gut tells me it will be one of those races in which he really dominates before he wrecks out. It feels to me like he is going to lead a lot of laps before getting shuffled back a bit before doing what Kyle Busch does, push too hard. He is one of those guys that doesn’t seem to think about the future, I’m right there with ya Kyle, but rather just about winning that particular race. Sometimes it works for him most other times he ends up trying to dive bomb someone and taking them out.

Dale Jr. 9-1

Congrats Jr. Nation on winning the pole, unfortunately you can only be disappointed from here. It’s certainly not impossible for him to win this week from the pole but I’m just playing the odds. He has only won once since 2008 and this season has led at least one lap in just three races. Betting him at just 9-1 is rather silly. His odds are deflated every week due to the size of his fan base. Just like the Patriots or Packers lines are always inflated Jr’s fans almost insure that he won’t ever have any real value.

Kasey Kahne 12-1

His two races here have actually been rather successful (2nd last year and 13th the year before) but two races isn’t enough to say he is actually good here. Despite his 2nd place finish last year he didn’t lead a lap, he did lead exactly one lap the year prior though. But with only two races at this particular track to pull from you need to look into things a bit more. At Kansas, the closest relative to Kentucky Speedway, he has twelve starts and zero wins. At Chicagoland he has nine career starts with zero wins and a 19.00 average finish. He is certainly one of the best wheelmen in the business and has the team Hendrick advantage but 12-1 simply just isn’t high enough. The way I look at it he has 23 races here or at a similar track with zero wins, six top 5’s and 10 top 10’s. He may have a top 10 car but he isn’t going to win this week even if he does betting him with odds that say he would win at least once if they ran this race twelve times would be rather dumb.

Best Bets:

Brad Keselowski 10-1

The only other guy that has gone to victory lane in NASCAR’s cup series at Kentucky. He also has the second best average finish among active drivers at Kansas with a 9.29 in seven races, one of which he won. The blue deuce has really had a rough go at defending his title. He has nearly failed more inspections than he has laps led since Bristol. He lost his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, for six races and has been docked a total of 31 points due to penalties yet he sits 9th in the points just 9 points ahead of 11th place despite the fact that he hasn’t gone to victory lane yet this year.

His current standing is rather remarkable given they lost the most underrated crew chief in NASCAR for six races. You may be thinking he isn’t underrated at all but I would respond with he is the only one that can sniff Chad Knaus’ jock at this point. This may be the week they get off the schneid and get back to their winning ways as we head towards The Chase.

Matt Kenseth 11-1

11-1 for a guy with three wins on the season, a 6th and a 7th place finish at Kentucky, and two wins at Kansas including the race this year? Yes please.

Denny Hamlin 11-1  

He needs to start winning period. He will roll out in 6th position tonight. Last year he finished 3rd, the year before 11th. Both of those races he led multiple laps including 58 laps led last year. If Denny wants to make an unprecedented run at a title he is going to have to start winning races. He currently sits 25th in points, 83 points back of 20th place which is where he needs to get to qualify for a possible wild card spot. But to do so he is going to have to win and win again and maybe a third time all the while getting some help. He without a doubt needs to press this weekend with just ten races remaining before The Chase. Of those ten he stands his best chance at winning here, Loudon, Richmond, Bristol, and Atlanta. Toss in the fact that anything can happen at Daytona next Saturday night and he will probably need to win at least three of those six races.

Denny also needs things to break his way as far as having guys firmly inside the top 10 winning if he doesn’t. The guys he will need to dodge... Kyle Busch (2 wins +16 on 11th), Martin Truex Jr. (1 win +8 on 11th), Kasey Kahne (1 win -8 from 10th), Tony Stewart (1 win -20 from 10th) as well as anyone else that could post their first win of the year and put Denny even further behind the eight ball. He needs to win and win now.

Brian Vickers 33-1

Ya I know you are thinking he probably should find himself in the next section as a value bet but you are wrong. He starts 9th and has the 3rd best average finish among active drivers at Chicagoland Speedway. He has a real chance of running up front and getting himself into position to win this race, especially if the rain starts falling.

Best Value Bets:

Martin Truex Jr. 20-1

Something tells me it won’t take 200+ races for Marty to score his third win. After last week's exciting road course win the winless drought now stands on the traditional oval tracks. Marty now has momentum on his side and with the chance of rain being very likely it wouldn’t surprise me even the least bit if he finds himself heading back to victory lane thanks to a bit of luck.

Danica Patrick 250-1

Speaking of luck of course we all know it’s going to take a lot of it for her to win. She hasn’t led a lap since starting on the pole at Daytona. We have seen plenty of drivers get really lucky and win a rain shortened race. She took a lot of heat from Kyle Petty this week and is going to want to prove him wrong. Maybe that’s not a ton different than most every other week, but this week she could find a friend in the form of precipitation. At 250-1 why not throw a couple bucks down?

Who will win?:

Jimmie Johnson 4.5-1

Kentucky Speedway is on the very short list of tracks this #48 team has yet to win at (Kentucky, Watkins Glen, Homestead, Chicagoland, and Michigan). They have only had two tries at it and have finished 6th and 3rd. He has been right there in this race both times they have raced here not to mention he has been the fastest in practice this week.

The biggest advantage he has... Chad Knaus. There is nobody better at this job on the planet. Two things give him a bigger advantage than on most weeks. First the lack of driver experience at this particular track and second, rain. Chad will have a better understanding of this track heading into the race tonight than anyone else and nobody is better at making the big decisions, like how to steal a rain shortened race, than Mr. Knaus. It may sound silly but for the #48 team to not win one out of the first three races at this track seems nearly impossible to me.  


Saturday, June 29, 2013

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