Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:58 PM
Best Bets - Kentucky
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Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.
The MENCS heads to Kentucky Speedway for Saturday's Quaker State 400 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The good news is that the weather forecast is a lot more favorable than it was last weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla., where the race was pushed from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, and then it ended with a weather-shortended result. Justin Haley will take it.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch (9/2) is not the favorite this weekend, but he probably should be. He leads everyone with a 123.9 Driver Rating across the past five starts at Kentucky, leading 306 laps while running 98.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He also sits atop the charts with a 5.0 Average-Finish Position (AFP) in his eight Cup starts in Sparta, posting six finishes inside the Top 5 and seven starts inside the Top 10. He has never finished lower than 12th at this race, either. He won the inaugural race at Kentucky from the pole in July 2011, and he started ninth and ran to checkers in the July 2015 race.
Martin Truex Jr. (6/1) has picked up checkers in each of the past two starts at Kentucky, including last season's start from the pole in a race which featured just four caution flags and the fastest-ever average speed of 150.454 mph. In his eight Cup starts he has a 10.1 AFP with five top-10 finishes and 373 laps, third-most among all active drivers. MTJ is also second to Kyle Busch with a 114.7 Drivre Average while running 75.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 at the track over the past five stats. He has led the second-most laps during the five-race span, leading the pack in 372 laps.
JGR's Denny Hamlin (20/1) has finished inside the Top 5 in three of his eight Cup starts, recording a strong 16.1 AFP with 76 laps led. It's been hit or miss, as he also has two DNFs, too. Another Toyota driver, JGR's Erik Jones (25/1) has been a quick study at Kentucky. In two Cup starts he has finished sixth and seventh despite the fact he hasn't led any laps in the two-race span. He has posted a 99.3 Driver Rating over the past two starts, too, while running 96.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15.
Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski (7/1) has a 112.5 Driver Rating over the past five Kentucky races while leading everyone with 374 laps led. He has won three of the eight Cup starts at Kentucky Speedway, and he has six finishes inside the Top 10 while posting an 11.4 AFP with 521 laps led. His teammate Joey Logano (8/1) has never won in eight Cup starts, but he has finished outside of the Top 10 on just three occasions with one DNF. Ryan Blaney (16/1) should also not be discounted. While he was 35th in his Kentucky Cup debut back in 2016, he improved to 10th in 2017 and second in 2018.
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick (11/2) has never won in eight Cup starts at Kentucky, but he checks in second with a 9.4 AFP among all drivers with at least three starts at the track. He has posted six finishes inside the Top 10, and he has never finished lower than 16th. Over the past five starts in Kentucky he has managed a 114.4 Driver Rating while running 97.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15, second only to Rowdy.
Don't sleep on the Ganassi drivers, either. Kurt Busch (25/1) and Kyle Larson (12/1) rank ninth and 10th over the past five starts at Kentucky with Driver Ratings of 88.5 and 85.0. While Larson hasn't led any laps during the span, Busch has 55 while running 76.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Larson was a runner up in 2017, and he was ninth last season. Busch has finished sixth or better in two of his past three outings in Kentucky, too. Busch's 12.0 AFP in eight Cup starts ranks sixth among drivers with at least three starts at the track.
If you're looking for a long shot, consider Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman (150/1). He has managed three top-5 finishes with two laps led with a 15.1 AFP in his eight Cup starts. Wood Brothers Racing driver Paul Menard (200/1) has managed five finishes inside the Top 20 with a respectable 18.3 AFP, although he has never led any laps at the track in a Cup car. SHR's Daniel Suarez (50/1) has two Cup starts under his belt, posting a 15th- and 18th-place finish.
JTG Daugherty Racing driver Chris Buescher (400/1) is not worth a roll of the dice, as he has a disman 25.3 AFP in his three Cup starts at Kentucky. RFR's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (100/1) has also struggled in his career at the track, finishing inside the Top 20 on just three of his six starts while limping to a 22.2 AFP with no laps led and one DNF. A better bet might be Richard Petty Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr. (1000/1), who has awfully long odds despite the fact he has a 19.0 AFP in two Cup starts at the track.