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Drivers to Watch - Kansas

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The NASCAR field makes its first of two appearances at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night for the 5-Hour Energy 400 Benefiting Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

This will be only the 17th NASCAR race all-time at Kansas, but there have already been five drivers with multiple victories at this track -- Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, who won this STP 400 race last spring. The most recent winner was Kevin Harvick last October.

Kansas Speedway is an intermediate track, completed in 2001, that measures exactly 1.5 miles. Built as a D-shaped oval, this track features 15° banking on the turns, 10.4° banking on the 2,685-foot frontstretch and a much flatter 5° banking on the 2,207-foot backstretch.

Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson (6/1) - Of all the chalk this week, Johnson stands out amongst the crowd. He should always be considered a favorite on an intermediate track, and by the way Johnson has been driving so far this season with top-6 finishes in half of his 10 races, he's worthy of action even with this low number to play on. Johnson has dominated the field in his past 10 races in Kansas, winning twice (2008 and 2011), while finishing no worse than 9th in the other eight starts at this venue (2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th and 9th). This gives Johnson a stellar career average finish of 7.5 at Kansas, which makes him the lone active driver under 10. He also has the most laps led (562) at this track among active drivers. Put your highest wager on Johnson on Saturday, as he is our pick to become the first three-time winner at Kansas Speedway.

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Carl Edwards (20/1)
- Considering his Kansas odds were 8-to-1 last spring and he holds the fifth-best average finish at this track (10.8), Edwards' odds are very favorable for Saturday's race. He hasn't won at this venue yet, but Edwards has led this race eight different times in his 13 starts, and has managed to record five top-5's and nine top-10's at Kansas Speedway. And even with his crash at Talladega last weekend, Edwards is still fourth in the current points standings thanks to an average finish of 12.0 with five top-10's and a win in Bristol. As the best value on the board Saturday, place a sizable wager on the No. 99 car.

Brad Keselowski (8/1) - Although his odds aren't great for this race, consider that Keselowski ranks second among active drivers with a 10.2 average finish at Kansas. He placed 1st, 3rd, 11th, 8th and 6th in a stretch of five starts at this venue before he faded to a finish of 17th last year despite leading the race for 52 laps. Add in the fact that Keselowski has already had four top-4 showings this season, and has led in nine of the 10 races in 2014 (Martinsville was the only exception), and this is a driver who should be higher than 11th in the current points standings. Don’t forget about the No. 2 car when placing your bets for Saturday's race.

Martin Truex Jr. (60/1) - The best longshot on the board for Saturday is Truex, who went off at 15-to-1 at this race last spring. Before his lackluster finish of 19th last fall, Truex had reeled off three straight top-4's at Kansas, with a pair of runner-ups in 2012 before coming in fourth last spring. Of his 11 starts at this venue, five times he has led for multiple laps. And while his 2014 season has been terrible (23.1 average finish, 26th in standings), Truex has shown signs of improvement in his past two starts with a 10th-place showing in Richmond and then finishing 17th at Talladega last week, which wasn't bad considering he started 43rd.

Greg Biffle (20/1) - He went off last spring at this venue at 6-to-1, and even though he finished a disappointing 13th in that race, Biffle still has a 10.3 average finish at this track, which places him third among active drivers. He has finished in the top-3 in 40 percent of his Kansas starts (6-of-15), including victories in 2007 and 2010. And after a slow start to the season, he's been red-hot lately with three top-6 showings in his past four starts, which includes last week's runner-up at Talladega. At 20-to-1, Biffle is certainly worthy of at least a one-unit wager.

Sportsbook.ag - Odds to win 5-hour ENERGY 400

Kevin Harvick 5/1
Jimmie Johnson 6/1
Jeff Gordon 8/1
Brad Keselowski 8/1
Matt Kenseth 8/1
Joey Logano 10/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 12/1
Kasey Kahne 12/1
Kyle Busch 12/1
Denny Hamlin 15/1
Carl Edwards 20/1
Tony Stewart 20/1
Greg Biffle 20/1
Clint Bowyer 20/1
Kyle Larson 20/1
Kurt Busch 25/1
Brian Vickers 40/1
Ryan Newman 40/1
Martin Truex Jr. 60/1
Paul Menard 60/1
Jamie McMurray 60/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 100/1
Aric Almirola 100/1
Ricky Stenhouse 100/1
Austin Dillon 100/1
Danica Patrick 200/1
AJ Allmendinger 200/1
Justin Allgaier 200/1
Marcos Ambrose 200/1
Casey Mears 200/1

  
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