RaceDayScore NASCAR: Quaker State 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Quaker State 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

Quaker State 400

Location: Sparta, Ky.
Course: Kentucky Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile oval
Laps: 267

Race Preview

Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano joined forces at the front of the field in Daytona last week to score the organization's 100th victory and Keselowski's third of the season. The Ford-powered teams appeared to have taken a huge step forward at the track but were also fast when the series last visited that speedway in February. This week the attention turns to one of NASCAR's 1.5-mile ovals where Keselowski and Kyle Busch have been the dominators. The pair won four of the five Sprint Cup races held at the venue so far, and both continue to be among the hottest drivers in the series. They battled one another for the win last week, and may be expected to do the same again this week as well.

Key Stats at Kentucky Speedway

Number of previous races: 5
Winners from pole: 2
Winners from top-5 starters: 2
Winners from top-10 starters: 4
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 0
Fastest race: 145.607 mph

Last Five Kentucky Winners

2015 - Kyle Busch
2014 - Brad Keselowski
2013 - Matt Kenseth
2012 - Brad Keselowski
2011 - Kyle Busch

Kentucky Speedway only makes one appearance on the Sprint Cup calendar each year, and this will only be the sixth time it has appeared on the schedule. The track, once famous for its rough and extremely bumpy surface, was also the flattest 1.5-mile oval on the calendar. That changes this year since the facility underwent a repaving. The work also included increasing the banking in turns one and two to create distinctly different corners at each end of the lap while also reducing the track's width. Tire wear used to be a huge concern at the track, and officials at the speedway have done everything possible to make the new surface be as rough as it used to be, but new asphalt will always be easier on tires. The bumps will be gone, and entry to turn three will be different than before, and drivers and teams will now have to compromise setups to find the fastest lap time. All of these changes could produce one of the most unpredictable races of the season, but given Keselowski and Busch's momentum, it would be wise for fantasy players to keep them high on the radar.

(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $11,900
Kyle Busch - $11,800
Jimmie Johnson - $11,400

Tier 2 Values

Denny Hamlin - $10,400
Austin Dillon - $10,300
Tony Stewart - $10,300
Jamie McMurray - $10,100

Tier 3 Values

Kyle Larson - $9,900
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,800
Trevor Bayne - $9,300

Long-Shot Values

David Ragan - $8,800
Regan Smith - $8,200
Michael Annett - $7,900


Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $11,400
Matt Kenseth - $11,100
Kyle Larson - $9,900
Trevor Bayne - $9,300
Aric Almirola - $9,100
Casey Mears - $8,800

Kentucky's lower-risk lineup prefers balance instead of choosing the outright favorite drivers. Logano pushed his teammate to the win last week in Daytona, and also has all top-10 finishes in the last three Kentucky races. Kenseth is the only Sprint Cup driver with a Kentucky victory not named Kyle Busch or Brad Keselowski. His lowest finish from five starts at the track was seventh in 2012. Though Larson's Kentucky results haven't been good, they don't reflect the speed he has had there. He started sixth and first in his two tries, crashed out of the first visit and hit trouble again last year. If he can get to the finish on Saturday he should be capable of at least a top-10. Bayne, remarkably, is on the cusp of a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He is only 10 points from the cut off and picked up his second top-five of the season last week. He finished 13th in his only Kentucky start. Fantasy owners have come to expect top-15 finishes from Almirola and he has delivered two from four at Kentucky. Taking the last spot is Mears, who had an inspired Daytona outing last week and offers fantasy owners three top-20 Kentucky finishes from five starts.

Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $11,900
Kyle Busch - $11,800
Jimmie Johnson - $11,400
David Ragan - $8,800
Regan Smith - $8,200
Michael Annett - $7,900

The higher-risk lineup for Kentucky goes heavy on drivers that have dominated at the circuit since it joined the Sprint Cup calendar. Both Keselowski and Busch have two wins at the track. Busch has a better average finish at 3.8, but both were also battling for the win last week in Daytona. Kentucky is a circuit at which Johnson hasn't yet won, but he does have five top-10s from five tries. His momentum has slowed, and he needs to bounce back this week from disappointment in Daytona. Ragan finished eighth in his first outing at Kentucky, finished 16th last week in Daytona and should offer fantasy players a top-20 this week. Regan Smith has two Sprint Cup starts under his belt at Kentucky, and his 17th-place finish from 12th on the starting grid in 2011 shows his last effort of 33rd was an anomaly and his lower price allows more room for the earlier top selections. Michael Annett is actually a bargain this week at $7,900. His two Kentucky starts would give him an average of 17th among active drivers under the Race Day Score points scheme. His top-20 last week in Daytona should be replicated this Saturday night.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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