NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas

 
Team Penske as an organization flexed its muscles last week at Talladega Superspeedway as Brad Keselowski earned his first win of the season in dramatic fashion with a last-lap pass in overtime. Now all three Penske Cup Series drivers are locked into the Playoffs and the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway (June 13). With Brad Keselowski's win, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has become the fourth different year in the Modern Era (1972-Present) with nine or more different winners in the first 10 races. Could we see #10 this weekend?
 
This Week's Pick Strategy:
Think 3 Hs: Hamlin and Harvick with a sprinkling of Hendrick. Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with seven victories. Both Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott could easily get it done. I expect last year's strongest championship contenders, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, will show the field that they are the ones to watch again this year.

Week in and week out this season, Denny has demonstrated his team's strength and consistency despite not having a win. Denny has a commanding lead in the standing with an 87-point lead on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.  Kevin Harvick on the other hand has something to prove. Kevin had a respectable fourth-place finish last week at Talladega. The No. 4 car started 16th on the grid and led 12 laps. Statistically, Kansas Speedway is one of Kevin's best tracks. In his 30 series starts here, Kevin has earned three wins (tied for series-most), 10 Top 5s (series-most among active drivers) and 17 Top 10s (series-most among active drivers).
 
Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 4 - Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch 
All with 3 - Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex Jr.

By Track
Both with 8 - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch 
Martin Truex Jr. - 7
All with 6 - Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch
All with 5 - Alex Bowman, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney
 
Last Year's Race Winner:  Denny Hamlin

My No-Brainer Pick: Tie between Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, and Michael McDowell.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is reigning Rookie of the Year, Cole Custer. Cole has momentum this week coming off his first Top-10 finish of the season at Talladega, his eighth Cup Series Top 10. He has four Kansas appearances in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, with a best finish of 11th in the 2019 event after leading a race-high 85 laps. In his lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas, Custer qualified fourth and finished seventh in the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry.

Last week's second-look driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been a focus of NASCAR talk all week long, and unfortunately not because of his race result at Talladega. Ricky started 17th and finished 33rd. All the buzz has been about the aggressive push his made on Denny Hamlin at the end of the first stage. Ultimately Denny was forced out of line and ended up hooking the No. 22 car of Joey Logano which sent the No. 22 airborne off the bumper of Stenhouse’s Chevrolet. Fortunately Joey was not injured despite his car turning upside down, landing on its roof and barrel-rolling before righting itself.

Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most prolific starting spot in the field producing more winners (six) than any other starting position on the grid.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with seven victories.
  • Eight of the 15 NASCAR Cup Series winners at Kansas Speedway are active this weekend. They are Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski, all with 3; Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr., with two each; and Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman with one each.
  • Kevin Harvick (2014, 2015, 2016) leads the NASCAR Cup Series in runner-up finishes at Kansas Speedway with four second-place finishes as well as Top 5s with 10 and Top 10s with 17. 
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway in average finishing position with a 9.3, and in laps led at Kansas Speedway with 949.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, May 2nd.

Enjoy the race!
_______

Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 15 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at frcs.pro. formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.
 
When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat, or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Saturday, May 01, 2021 Rating: 5

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