What can we say about last week other than, Superspeedway racing, amirte? The ‘Dega sent many of the top contenders home quite upset. Be it Joey Logano’s graceful yet terrifying flight over the hood of Bubba Wallace, or one of the many spinouts on the track, Talladega did not disappoint. This week though, we settle down some and move to the Kansas Speedway for the Buschy McBusch Race 400. We also move back to a 1.5-mile track and less white-knuckle racing. It’s a perfect time to test your skills in some Monkey Knife Fight contests.
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Here are some of my favorite plays from this week’s contests. Scoring in these contests is based on finishing positions inside the Top 20 with 20 points awarded to first place. An additional 0.1 points are tacked on for each lap led. Below are some picks to help you get started in your MKF contests.
More Or Less
Martin Truex Jr. More Than 16.5 Fantasy Points
It was a rough day at the office for Martin Truex Jr. at Talladega last week. He found himself caught up in a scuffle at the end of Stage 2 that involved several other race contenders. Somehow, he managed to remain in the race only to wind up cutting a tire in the waning laps causing him to miss overtime. His official finish was 31st place, his worst of the season.
The good news is, this week’s race moves back to a more comfortable mile-and-a-half setting. This is even better news for Truex Jr. as he’s enjoyed some recent success at the Kansas Speedway. In 2017, he completed the season sweep here winning both the Spring and Fall runnings. Over the course of the last eight races, he’s only finished outside of the Top 10 once. What’s more, he’s second only to Kevin Harvick in terms of laps led on the track over the last five seasons.
He’ll have a little more work to do this week as he rolls off the grid from the 15th position. This should be no problem for the #19 Toyota. It’s driver has hit this prop on two out of the three 1.5-mile tracks so far this season. Even when he missed, he was only 1.5 points off the mark. Look for Truex Jr. to shake off a disappointing finish and rebound this week.
Denny Hamlin More Than 17.5 Fantasy Points
Speaking of bad days, Denny Hamlin also had a rough go last week at Talladega. He got loose with a little help from Truex Jr., hit the wall and never fully recovered from the aftermath. Ultimately his day ended in 32nd place, ironically one position behind Truex Jr. who was partly responsible for his troubles.
His fortunes change on Sunday as he gets to run on a track he’s won twice at over the last races. He won in impressive fashion in the Fall race of 2019 leading 153 laps in the victory. The following Spring, he led 57 laps on his way to back-to-back checkered flags. Like Truex Jr., he’ll be forced to pass a few cars this week due to his Talladega woes. Hamlin will start in 20th place at the drop of the green flag.
Barring any major damage, he should return to his dominant form. In the ten races so far this season, he already has eight top-5 finishes with five of them inside the Top 3. He’ll need to cross the finish line in third place to hit this prop. Any laps he manages to lead along the way will only help lower that threshold.
Chase Elliott More Fantasy Points Than Kyle Larson (+1.5)
It’s been clear all season that Hendrick motorsports has been a dominant force on the track all season long. Kyle Larson has been in the conversation among the frontrunners several times over. Unfortunately, last week was not one of those weeks. Larson’s #5 car bellowed smoke just nine laps into the race. That blown engine ended his day before it even started. This week he’ll return to Kansas for the first time since 2019. Last season, he missed both races here while serving his suspension. While he does have five Top 10 finishes in his 12 career starts on this track, the qualifying formula awarded him a start from the 32nd position this week. He will have a lot of work to do to try and get back to the front. Even if he does, his teammate has a solid head start.
The reigning Cup Series champion also endured an overall disappointing race at Talladega. He crossed the finish line 24th despite being swept up in the Hamlin fiasco at the end of Stage 2. He found himself sliding down the track with teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman. He’s fortunate that he was able to stay on the track and run all 191 laps. For his efforts, he’ll start in the 17th position. He won’t need to do too much to achieve his status quo at Kansas which is finishing inside the Top 10. In 10 career Cup starts here, he has six such finishes. Four of those have been top-5’s, and one was a victory. His season has been all over the place. That said, he’s due for a good race and this week should be just that.
Kevin Harvick More Fantasy Points Than Kyle Busch (+0.5)
What was a disastrous day for so many last Sunday was actually not bad for Kevin Harvick. The #4 car turned in a second fourth-place finish on a Superspeedway this season equaling his best finish of the year at the Daytona 500. Harvick managed to stay out of trouble and keep his nose clean the whole race and was rewarded with his third Top 5 finish. He even managed to lead a few laps along the way. Leading laps is something he’s very familiar with in Kansas. He comes into this race having led the most laps of any active driver through the last five seasons. In 30 career starts, he has three wins and 17 top-10 finishes including the last three races here.
As for Kyle Busch, he fell into the mix of cars that should have run well last week but didn’t finish well. He salvaged a Top 20 day when it was all said and done, but even he’d agree that it wasn’t the outing he was hoping for. He’ll look to change his luck on a track he’s done well for himself on lately. At Kansas, he’s led laps, finished inside the Top 5 in eight out of his last 12 attempts, and has just looked good in the process. Unfortunately for him in this prop, he’s just going against someone who has done it better. Busch will likely end up with another solid finish, but Harvick should hang on to his head start and finish better.