Looking for right matchups in Kansas race

By Jeff Cogliandro  (Point Spread Weekly) 

May 10, 2019 10:11 PM

UPDATE: Based on new information from track.

Erik Jones (plus 400): Top 5 finish

Martin Truex Jr. (plus 110) over Brad Keselowski (-130): Truex fails inspection and will start from the 31st position, with this change Truex becomes a viable underdog.

Erik Jones (-125) over Jimmie Johnson (plus 105): Jones is playable up to -135. Both drivers passed inspection on the first try.

The NASCAR series heads back to a 1.5-mile speedway for the first time in five weeks with a visit to Kansas Speedway for Saturday night's Digital Ally 400 (FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET).

The cars are outfitted with the same 550-horsepower package that was used at Texas Motor Speedway on the final day of March. From what was seen in practice, it appears that the cars should be able to move up through the field in an easier manner than what was seen at Dover last week. 

The Stewart-Haas drivers swept the top 4 qualifying positions and look to be especially the strong. Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola were the two fastest drivers over the long run in happy hour as their cars unloaded in great condition. 

Below are some key metrics heading into the race that are based on the last four races at Kansas combined with Texas of this year. The reason for adding Texas to the metric is due to similar style track configuration along with it being the most recent race under the same rules package.

  • 4.2 avg. finish by Martin Truex Jr. is the best of any driver.
  • 2 wins by Truex in the last four races at Kansas.
  • 5 top 10s in these five races by Kyle Busch, best of any driver.
  • 9.6 avg. finish for 20-1 Denny Hamlin.
  • 200 plus laps each led by Kyle Busch, Truex and Kevin Harvick.
  • 182 fastest laps by Harvick, most of any driver.

The metrics below are based off the two races at Kansas in 2018:

  • 3.5 avg. finish for Truex and Kyle Larson both.
  • 3.5 avg finish for Larson was based off starting in the rear for both races.
  • 155 laps lead by Harvick in these two races combined.
  • 105 fastest laps by Harvick, next was Larson at 64 laps.
  • 100% of both races Joey Logano was in the top 15, best of any driver.

Metrics based off the practice sessions leading into the Kansas race:

  • Alex Bowman was 7th, 5th, and 4th over 10, 15, and 20 consecutive laps in happy hour.
  • Kurt Busch was in the top 5 for 10, 15, and 20 consecutive laps in happy hour.
  • Three Stewart-Haas cars made the top 9 over 20 consecutive laps in happy hour, Clint Bowyer was the only exclusion.
  • Kurt Busch was in the top 6 for all measurables applied to every driver.
  • Kyle Busch was 12th fastest over a 10 lap consecutive run in happy hour. 

In evaluating the race from the perspective of trying to pick a winner, I believe Kevin Harvick is the standout currently, but he is at miniscule odds of plus 250. A better value might be with his teammates Bowyer (10-1) and Aric Almirola (16-1). Another value selection appears to be Larson (16-1), who was 3rd fastest in 20 lap averages. 

This is not an endorsement to make a bet on the race winner. As we frequently have discussed, the reasons not to bet on a race winner are significant, even more so when backing the favorite. However, there are times when value is apparent.

In driver matchup wagers, we went 2-0 last week, which brings our record to 22-9 so far this season. Below are the matchups that made the value cut this week as of now. Please see impound implications at the bottom of the page.  

Martin Truex Jr. (-110) over Brad Keselowski (-110): Truex has been better than Keselowski all weekend.

Erik Jones (-125) over Jimmie Johnson (plus 105): Jones is playable up to -135.

Aric Almirola (-115) over Denny Hamlin (-105): Almirola has a top 3-4 car entering the race, and if he has a clean run, he should be able to outlast Hamlin.

Kyle Larson (plus 125) over Ryan Blaney (-145): Inconsistencies have plagued both drivers this season but Larson might be on rapid rebound. Great recent Kansas finishes help propel this underdog.

If wagers were not made prior to qualifying, the suggestion is to wait until all the cars of interest pass inspection. I will update on twitter should there be any change in selections.

Starting positions are not final until cars pass tech on Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. Please stay tuned for latest developments as the race approaches. 

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