NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway

"History in the making" could very well be this NASCAR Cup Series' season tagline, and last week's win by the No. 43 team of Erik Jones was no exception. When Petty GMS driver Erik Jones won the Cookout Southern 500 last weekend at Darlington Raceway, he became the 17th different winner of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season tying 1961 season for the most different winners (17) through 27 races of a single season.

But the win's tie to history didn't stop there. Remarkably it was 55 years to the day (September 4, 1967) when Richard Petty, team owner and seven time NASCAR champion, brought the iconic No. 43 car into Victory Lane at Darlington. Erik delivered the 200th victory for the No. 43 car and the first win for the new Petty GMS Racing organization in 2022. And as if that weren't enough, Erik became the first non-Playoff driver to win the opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. 

As we roll into Kansas Speedway we are in the exact same position -- a non-Playoff driver has never won the second race on the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs schedule, but there are two non-Playoff drivers in the field this weekend who have two wins here: Brad Keselowski (2019 and 2011) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017 sweep). Stay tuned!

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 5 - Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.
Both with 4 - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch
All with 3 - Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, William Byron, and Ryan Blaney

By Track
Martin Truex Jr. - 9
Kevin Harvick - 8 
Both with 7 - Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch
Both with 6 - Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch
All with 5 - Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, and William Byron

Last Year's Race Winner:  Kyle Larson

The Likely Suspects:
My Kansas go-tos are Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, William Byron, and Kyle Larson.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, and Christopher Bell. I will complete my roster with Erik Jones and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Christopher Bell, and Michael McDowell.
Second-Look Driver: My sleeper pick this week is Martin Truex Jr., who got snake bit again last week at Darlington when it looked like he might finally get a win, that was until the No. 19 car lost its water pump belt. Martin really know how to get around Kansas though. In his last 11 starts there, Martin has Earned 10 Top 10s, with nine of those being seventh or better. He swept both races in 2017. He just might player spoiler this weekend.

Points to Ponder: 
  • Nine of the 33 NASCAR Cup Series races have been won from the front row (27.27%). 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Kansas Speedway with eight victories. 
  • Four manufacturers have won at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Chevrolet with 14 victories, Ford with nine. 
  • Eight of the 17 NASCAR Cup Series Kansas Speedway winners are active this weekend: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick with three each; Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. with two each; and Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, each with one win at Kansas. 
  • Kevin Harvick  leads the NASCAR Cup Series in runner-up finishes at Kansas Speedway with five second-place finishes (2014, 2015, 2016, 2020, 2021). 
  • Among active drivers, Kevin Harvick also leads the NASCAR Cup Series in Top 5s at Kansas Speedway with 12, in Top 10s with 19, in average finishing position with a 9.091, and in laps led at Kansas Speedway with 949 laps led in 33 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, September 10th and you final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, September 11th.

Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 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 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: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, September 09, 2022 Rating: 5