For the first time in a decade, NASCAR returns to the Nashville Superspeedway for the Ally 400 race. The event will mark the first time ever the major circuit will run a points race on the track. Some drivers have past experience from their time as drivers for the lower tiers and even the truck series. Others will be getting their first experience with the narrow confines of this 1.33-mile tri-oval on Sunday.
What makes things even more interesting is the return of qualifying and practice. Today will be the first day the cars will hit the track for a few laps of practice. Tomorrow morning they will take to the track before the race to determine their starting position. Of course this does make predicting these props a little bit more difficult. That said, there is still enough data out there to make some reasonable assumptions here. Let’s face it, winning a Monkey Knife Contest or two makes a perfect Father’s Day gift.
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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 and one less point thereafter. 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 Of Less (3/4)
Chase Elliott More Than 17.5 Fantasy Points
Hendrick Motorsports is the strongest team in NASCAR right now. You know it, their drivers know it, everyone else on the track knows it too. Lately, Chase Elliott has found himself in the mix of an HMS sweep in one way or another. He finished second to teammate Kyle Larson in Sonoma and Charlotte. The #9 car was in the right position at the right time when rain ended the COTA race in Austin to bring home the checkered flag. He preceded all of this with a third place at Dover, a seventh place in Darlington, and a fifth place in Kansas. He’s hot right now and only getting hotter.
Elliott will hit a track on which he has yet to take a green flag. Although, that has not seemed to stop him in the past. Last season he won at the debut of the road course in Daytona. As stated earlier, captured the victory in NASCAR’s first race at the Circuit of the Americas track. What’s more, he has also tasted victory in Nashville. That came in 2013 at the age of 17 at the Fairgrounds Speedway. Another slight edge for Elliot could come from a test session that same year for HMS at the Superspeedway. He’ll need to finish at least third outright to cash this prop. It should be an easy task to accomplish for the Napa Auto Parts Chevy Camaro.
Denny Hamlin Less Than 17.5 Fantasy Points
This is a prop that you think should hit, you want to hit, you actively cheer for it to hit, but in the end, won’t. A Top-3 finish has eluded Denny Hamlin since his second-place showing at Richmond in April. He’s not short of decent finishes though. In fact, four of his last five races have produced a Top 10 finish. Sadly, it will take more than that to hit this high of a bar. What makes this even more difficult for the FedEx Camry is the fact that the team has yet to bring home a win this season.
Hamlin does benefit from a few years of history on this track. He made five starts between 2005 and 2008 in what was the Busch then Nationwide series. His best finish in that span was a third place in the Spring of 2006. To his credit, he did manage to lead 89 total laps along the way. That said, there will be many more variables to deal with this weekend with the return of same-day race qualifying. During Hamlin’s string of solid finishes, he benefited from starting positions based on the formula. He will not have that luxury this week. In a perfect scenario, he hasn’t hit this prop in a while. There is not much to indicate he’ll do it on Sunday.
Joey Logano (+1.5) More Fantasy Points Than Brad Keselowski
There is no denying that were it not for the Hendrick cars, Joey Logano would be enjoying the last month of racing more. He’s watched the bumpers of Elliott, Larson, and Byron for the better part of the last five races including the All-Star race. With that in mind though, Logano has enjoyed a nice run as of late. He’s posted three Top-5 finishes in the last four regular-season races. The #22 Mustang has been fast and has found a groove that could spell trouble for the rest of the field on Sunday.
Logano has a short, but successful history in Nashville as a driver in the then Nationwide Series. In his four career starts, he sat on the pole three times. In those starts, he had two Top-10 finishes. What about the one race where he did not start in front you ask? That happened to be his second start in which he rolled off from the second position. He went on to win that race. Hopefully, he has a good memory and can turn in another solid outing this Sunday. If he does, this prop is a lock.
It has been a rough 2021 season for Brad Keselowski. For every high he’s enjoyed, he’s suffered a less than desirable result. Since his win at Talladega and his third-place finish the following week, he’s endured four finishes outside of the Top 15 in five races. He was able to find his way to a second-place outing at the All-Star race last weekend, but that success had more to do with the quirks of that race than anything.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom for the #2 Penske Ford, he gets to race on a familiar track when some of his competitors are not. Between 2007 and 2011, he made 10 starts on the Nashville Superspeedway. Of those, he finished inside the Top 5 seven times. Two of them ended with Keselowski taking home the checkered flag including his first win as a NASCAR driver. While he could be in for another good day on Sunday, his current situation has the scales not tilted in his favor for this prop.