The second primetime race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is upon us, as the stars in NASCAR’s premiere series will take to the Kansas Speedway this weekend for Saturday night’s KC Masterpiece 400 (8 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Here are the top five storylines for this weekend’s race.
Top 3 This Year Likely Favorites This Weekend
If you were asked right now to name the four drivers that will contest in the Championship 4 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, three of the four would be no brainers at the moment. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. would be the easy picks as we head into the 12th race of the 2018 season. Combined, that trio of drivers have won eight of 11 races already. I think we could push that number to nine of 12 on Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick has seven top 10 finishes in his last nine starts at Kansas, including leading eight of his last nine starts there too. He has three top three finishes in his last four overall starts on the 1.5-mile track and six in that same nine race time frame. At a similar track in Las Vegas earlier this season, Harvick dominated in winning all three stages of the race. He’s also coming off of a win last weekend in Dover and has led the most laps in the series this season too. Furthermore, he has a series high four victories in 2018 as well.
Last year, Truex won all three stages of the race in Vegas and turned that into a clean sweep of the two races at Kansas too. He led 195 laps in the two Kansas race in 2017. Plus, he has been at his best in this very spring race. In 2015, he led 95 laps in the May race. In 2016, he led 172 more. Last year, he led 104. He has four straight top four starting spots at Kansas and five of the last six.
You can’t count out Busch either. He won at a 1.5-mile track in Texas back in early April and has six straight top 10 finishes at Kansas. Five of those six have resulted in a finish inside of the top five too, including a win in this race in 2016.
The top three this season are the top three for Saturday night.
If anyone is going to top the big three on Saturday, it’s Ryan Blaney. He has four top seven finishes in his last five Kansas starts, including finishes of fourth and third respectively in 2017. He even led 83 laps in this race last year. Now, he’s in a Penske car and one that was very good at Vegas in March. I think this could be his turn this weekend to give Penske two wins in the last three races.
Another SHR Dominant Race?
Last weekend, Stewart-Haas Racing put three cars in the top five of the finishing order. In fact, all four were in the top 11. Now, can they do it again? I think so. I already told you Harvick’s stats above, but look at his other three teammates’ finishes at Kansas.
Kurt Busch has four top 10 finishes in his last six Kansas starts. He also heads to the race with two straight top five finishes overall this season. Clint Bowyer has a ton of momentum and heads to this race after finishing ninth there last year. Aric Almirola has also been pretty good and was ninth in the fall race after being injured in this race last year.
They should be very good.
Ford Drivers Dominating Stages, Points
Chevrolet still looks off so in wake of that, Ford and Toyota drivers are thriving. Out of the 22 stages run in 2018, Ford drivers have won 17 of them. Toyota has won the other five. Chevy, well they’re shut out. I don’t sense any of this changing this weekend either. Plus, in the standings, six of the top seven are Ford drivers. The other three drivers in the top nine are Toyota’s. The top Chevy driver is Kyle Larson in 10th.
Saturday looks to be a Ford and Toyota dominated event again too.
Starting Position Matters
46-percent of the overall winners at Kansas have come from a top five starting spot. Furthermore, 58-percent from the top 10. Nearly 80-percent from the top 15. So, if you want to really look for a winner for Saturday night, you’re best looking at who makes the third and final round of qualifying. They have almost an 8-and-10 shot of winning the race.
I like those odds.