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Last Updated Sep 15, 2022, 8:45 AM

Hollywood Casino 400 Picks, Predictions, Odds

I have a feeling the 27th race of the season and the second race of the NASCAR Playoffs at Kansas Speedway’s 1,5-mile layout is going to be a Toyota kind of day with all six of them having great runs. 

Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 will be one of four races on 1.5-mile tracks during the postseason and doing well on them probably means securng a date at Phoenix on November 3 for the NASCAR Championship.

Denny Hamlin is looking for his first Cup title while Kyle Busch is looking for his third while trying to impress an owner to sign him for the 2023 season. Ty Gibbs is given the golden opportunity to drive for Kurt Busch who dominated the May Kansas race. And then there’s Christopher Bell who has more top-fives than any Toyota driver.

Here’s a look at how I see the race this week with odds in order courtesy of BetMGM.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 PICKS & PREDICTIONS

Denny Hamlin (6/1) - This is the race I had marked down for Hamlin to win and move to the next round and I’ve been given no reason to believe he won’t win. Maybe Kyle Busch to compete as well, but it’s Hamlin to me. He has three Kansas wins in 28 starts with 10 top-fives, the last one coming in May when he was fourth. He was runner-up in the All-Star race at Texas, won at Charlotte from the pole, and was third at Michigan. All run with the same race package and set a pattern for what Hamlin is good at in 2022.

“We’re looking forward to Kansas this weekend,” Hamlin said. “We feel like this is an opportunity to run well based on how our season has gone and how we ran there in the spring. For us, we need to be a little bit better than what we were then, but we feel like we can certainly do that. It’s also an exciting weekend welcoming Acumatica on board for their first NASCAR race, so we want to put on a good show for them and hopefully continue building momentum here in the playoffs.”

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Kyle Busch (6/1) - His first 14 races at Kansas were rough. No wins, no top-fives. But his last 15 starts there have seen 10 top-fives and a 2016 win. He was third in the spring race. Hey Kyle, what’s the most challenging part of Kansas?

“The wind always seems like it’s high in Kansas and it will also change directions,” Busch said. “It can change directions day to day, so you can practice in one wind direction and you can race in another one. That completely throws off the balance of your racecar and what you are feeling, and which corner of the track you attack the most, so you’ve always got to be leery of that, and we certainly will be this weekend.”

Kyle Larson (7/1) - He won this race last season and was runner-up in the spring. He’s led at least 29 laps in his last four Kansas starts. This track suits his style.

"I think Kansas (Speedway) fits my driving style because it’s an intermediate track with multiple grooves so you can move around to find grip,” Larson said. “Usually the fastest lane is right up next to the wall – and at times that is where I am most comfortable."

Chase Elliott (9/1) - He’s good everywhere. He’s the coolest guy in NASCAR. Doesn’t say much, just takes care of business. His 11.2 average finish in second-best among all active drivers which includes a 2018 win. He was 29th in the spring but he just throws it away and moves on.

"One of the great things about our team is when we have a bad race, we learn from it and move on,” said Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson. “We don’t dwell on it. Chase is so good at being able to do that, putting the previous race in the rearview and focusing on the week ahead. That’s what you have to do - take things week by week. I think that’s key to being able to survive in these playoffs."

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 BETTING RESOURCES

Date: Sunday, September 11, 2022
Venue: Kansas Speedway
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
Distance: 400.5 miles
Laps: 267
Network-Time: USA - 3:00 p.m.
Defending Champion: Kyle Larson

Martin Truex Jr. (9/1) - He’s had a 12.5 average finish between his 28 Cup starts at Kansas with two wins and 803 laps led. He also has nine top-fives and grabbed his 15th top-10 finish in the May race by finishing sixth. The price is again not attractive. No wins on the season, but sure he’s 9-to-1 to win. But keep in mind that I expect Toyota to be the manufacturer to win this week and he’s been running lately.  

“I think it’s going to be a good race,” Truex said. “The last time there, it seemed like we were able to move around and run all over the place so that makes it a lot of fun to drive. We had a really strong car there and just got messed up a little bit on pit road and lost our track position, but we were able to drive back to the front a few times. I think we’re better in every aspect of the team and that will give us a good shot on Sunday.”

Ross Chastain (9/1) - He’s been great in the two Atlanta races but that was with the superspeedway race package. His best finish on a 1.5-mile track this season was at Las Vegas when he led a race-high 83 laps and finished third. He was seventh in the spring Kansas race. Ever since Denny Hamlin taught a lesson in respecting fellow drivers, he’s been off-kilter with no top-fives, no wins. He needs to break free mentally and race his own way. He’s been creatively stifled at his job. He won a 2019 Truck Series race in Kansas.

Christopher Bell (12/1) - He won a 2017 Xfinity Series race at Kansas and scored his first Cup top-five there in the spring. Who has the most top-fives among Toyota drivers? Bell just scored his eighth top-five at Darlington last week. He was also fifth at Charlotte in May. This should be a good track for him.

“I expect Kansas to be a great racetrack for us,” Bell said. “It seems like the faster the track the better we go. It’s a track we were strong at in the spring, and we won the pole. There’s no reason we should not be able to contend for the win this weekend.” 

Ryan Blaney (12/1) - He’s listed at 15-to-1 to win at Caesars and this would be a place he could break through with his first 2022 win. It’s wide-open with lots of room and can make passes without ruffling feathers. My problem with him is that all his great starts happened (3 top-fives) when he drive for the Wood Brothers. Since coming to Team Penske, his best Kansas finish has been seventh twice between eight starts. He was 12th in the spring race. 

Tyler Reddick (12/1) - Six Cup starts at Kansas with a 17.7 average finish with a best of seventh in the spring race last season. He’s led laps in the last two Kansas races. He started second in May but finished 30th.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 CONTENDERS

Joey Logano (14/1) - He’s been great at Kansas over his career with three Cup wins and two Xfinity Series wins. The only problem I have with him here is that he’s done nothing on the 1.5s this season while getting top-fives at the 2-mile layouts at Fontana and Michigan and winning at the 1.366-mile Darlington layout in May. But then again, these are the type of races he wins. 

William Byron (14/1) - He has a 16th-place average finish in nine Cup starts at Kansas with one top-five. He was 16th in the spring race. He still hasn’t had a top-five since his win at Martinsville, but he looked good last week at Darlington finishing eighth after leading twice for 50 laps. But I don’t like betting on drivers that are too honest about how they feel about a track.

"Honestly, Kansas might be the one track in the playoffs that I’m the most worried about,” Byron said. “I feel like we know what to expect at place like Talladega or the (Charlotte) ROVAL and other tracks we have already raced at this year so we have notes. We raced at Kansas in May and had speed, led laps early and then had a flat tire that damaged the underneath of the car. We kept going but the car never handled the same. That means we don’t have our own notes on how we expect the Next Gen car to handle throughout the run, etc. The good thing is we can lean on our teammates some and use our past mile-and-a-half notes as well. The good news is I like racing at Kansas, and it’s a place that both Rudy (Fugle) and I seem to have taken to really well. Hopefully, we can do what we did at Darlington last week, put together a solid points day and be there at the end to possibly lock ourselves into the next round."

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Kevin Harvick (16/1) - When I saw Erik Jones win last week, I was happy and had a small piece on him, but it was supposed to be Harvick. His crew chief set the car up perfectly for the last run under dark but Harvick’s car caught fire, and then it stayed on fire in a weird and scary sequence as Harvick jumped out of the car. And it still burned as if someone threw a Duraflame on it. NASCAR made a decision on a quick fix, but the point is that was Harvick's race to win. He was going to be the fastest on the last set of tires. Anyway, he’s won two of the last five races on the schedule. His team has found speed and he’s the best active driver at Kansas with a 9.1 average finish, three wins, 12 top-fives, 19 top-10s, and 949 laps led in 33 starts. The Bakersfield native is the Kansas King. He was 15th in the spring race.    

“Kansas was an OK race for us” Harvick said. “I think the tire’s a little bit different, a little less stagger this time, so that’ll change the setups a little bit as we go into Kansas. You have to be good middle to the top of the racetrack in order to make good time at Kansas and be able to survive on the long run and make enough speed. So you’re going to need to be comfortable from the middle of the racetrack up to the top to make good lap times, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on.”

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 BETTING ANALYSIS

Bubba Wallace (18/1) - In nine Cup starts at Kansas he has a 24th-place average finish with one top-10, which happened in the May race. He’s part of Toyota and also the same team that won the May race with Kurt Busch. He’ll be fast this weekend, but I need better odds to take a shot at him to win.

Alex Bowman (22/1) - The best number I saw so far on him was 30-to-1 at Caesars. I am looking to bet him for a small amount this week. His 10th at Darlington last week inspired me to think he can do what he did at Las Vegas this season which is grab his only 2022 win. He was ninth in the spring Kansas race but I also recall a runner-up in 2019 and a third in 2020. When is the last time NASCAR had winners of 30-to-1 or higher in three straight races? I think he likes the track. 

"I really like that track,” Bowman said. “Kansas is one of the tracks that has widened out and has multiple lanes and ways to get around it. I feel like I have always gone there and been competitive and this weekend doesn’t feel any different from any other weekend I have headed there. I know our team will build a fast No 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 like they do every week and we will go there and race just as hard as we always do. Hopefully, it is enough to grab a win."

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 LONG SHOTS

Daniel Suarez (33/1) - In 11 Cup starts at Kansas he has a 22nd-place average finish with one top-10, which came in his first start there as a rookie in 2017. He was 33rd in the May race. Lookout Christopher Bell, because Suarez thinks he was wronged last week at Bell’s hands. 

Ty Gibbs (33/1) - He makes his first Kansas Cup start and should have an edge considering he’s driving with the same team that won the May race. Kurt Busch dominated the race leading 116 laps and I have a feeling Gibbs might be in line for a top-10 and contend late for the win. Gibbs might even have the same chassis Busch used for that race. You’ll spend $5 on a lot worse things than a Gibbs bet this weekend, I promise.

Austin Cindric (50/1) - He had his first Cup start at Kansas last season finishing 22nd but came back this season and finished 11th. My Cindric logic still remains that I can only bet him at a road course or superspeedway race, so that’s twice in the next nine weeks.

Erik Jones (50/1) - His win at Darlington last week made him the 17th different driver to win a race this season and we still have nine races to go. For the first time since the elimination format began in 2014, no playoff driver clinched a spot into the next round. Reason not to bet Erik Jones this week? His crew partied so much after the win, they are worn. Reason to bet on him this week? I can’t think of any. Maybe it rains and he stays out while others pit. He did have three top-fives in his JGR days but has been 20th or worse in his last four Kansas starts. 

Austin Dillon (80/1) - He has a 16th-place average finish in 18 Cup starts with five top-fives. He was 13th in the May race. He was 11th at Las Vegas and runner-up at Fontana. 

Chase Briscoe (80/1) - I took a small bet on him despite a 21st-place average finish at Kansas only because he ran extremely well at Charlotte in May finishing fourth. My Lotto ticket this week. He won at Kansas in a 2020 Xfinity Series race. The first Kansas race didn’t turn out well, but he should feel confident in knowing he has run well on other 1.5-mile tracks.

“Yeah, it does,” Briscoe said. “I think we were trying things that we thought were going to be better based off sim and what was being shown on paper, and now we know that isn’t the case. We were able to go back to some of what had been working for us and I think that really showed in some of the more recent races we’ve run, like Charlotte. For the most part, Kansas isn’t much different than what it has been compared to some of these tracks that race so differently with the new car. We’ll be running the fence all day and just hoping not to make a mistake that takes us out of it.”

Brad Keselowski (100/1) - His 11.6 average finish at Kansas is third best among active drivers. He’s got two wins and seven top-fives in 25 Cup starts there, but he 13th in his first Kansas race driving for RFK Racing and he wasn’t any better at the other 1.5-mile tracks.

“Kansas is one of those places that offers so much running room and carries a ton of speed all the way around,” Keselowski said. “This stretch of returning to tracks for the second time will be important as we continue to build on our notebook daily. Proud to have our friends at Solomon Plumbing back on board, and have certainly enjoyed our partnership together this season.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr (100/1) - When the first race came around in May, there was promise and hope for his team. He had just finished eighth at Darlington, then was eighth at Kansas and went to Charlotte and was seventh. Somehow they lost speed, or everyone else got better. They haven’t had a top-10 since Charlotte. In 2012, he won an Xfinity Series race at Kansas.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1.) #11 Denny Hamlin (6/1)
2.) #5 Kyle Larson (7/1)
3.) #18 Kyle Busch (6/1)
4.) #20 Christopher Bell (12/1)
5.) #4 Kevin Harvick (16/1)

NASCAR CUP SERIES
WEEKLY PREDICTIONS

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