The 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Challenger Round is over and the Contender round starts next week at Kansas Speedway. AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, and Aric Almirola have been eliminated from the Chase. The twelve drivers that advance will all have their points reset to 3,000 and the four drivers who are lowest in points among those twelve that don’t win one of the next three races will be eliminated and will not advance to the third round.
The next two races will be run on mile and a half tracks and the third race of the Contender round will be a restrictor plate race at Talladega. You can bet that the remaining Chase drivers want to be locked into the next round before they get to Talladega. That means that the race this week at Kansas Speedway is very important to all of these drivers. Kansas Speedway is very similar to Chicagoland Speedway, which was where the first Chase race was run this season, so those who did well at Chicago should do well once again this weekend.
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400
Jimmie Johnson: I am going to pick Jimmie to win the first race of the Contender round. Jimmie has two career wins at Kansas Speedway and has finished in the top ten here in fourteen of his sixteen starts. Those are very impressive stats and I think this team is going to take the next step towards moving on the the next round of the Chase this weekend. They seem to be getting a little better every week and have found some of the speed they had lost over the middle of the season.
Jeff Gordon: Jeff has won three races at Kansas and is really looking like a championship contender. After winning the race at Dover last weekend, this team has momentum and confidence on their side. I look for Jeff to run towards the front of the pack all day on Sunday and have a shot at the win in the final laps. Jeff has also finished in the top ten here in twelve of his seventeen starts.
Matt Kenseth: Matt has won two races at Kansas and this team, which is still looking for their first win of the season, just keeps finishing in the top ten every week and moving along. All they have to do is keep qualifying for the next round and then win their first race of the season at Homestead and Matt will have another championship to celebrate. They need to find a little bit more speed though to do it.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin won this race last year, finished second here this spring, sat on the pole here for the last two races, and has been fast all season. I look for him to once again qualify in the top five and perhaps win another pole. They just need to have their luck change a little bit and they will find themselves back in victory lane very soon.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale has finished in the top ten in half of the races he has run at this track. They need to improve on their performance as the Chase continues and I think they will do that over the next three races. Dale is very good at all of the tracks he will visit during this stage of the Chase. Even though he has never won at Kansas, this is the type of track he excels at.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won a race at Kansas in 2011 and he won the first Chase race at Chicagoland. Like I said earlier, this track is very much like Chicagoland and the drivers that ran well there will have an advantage with their setups when they get to the track this week. Brad has been fast in all of the Chase races and leads the series in wins this season with five so far.
Joey Logano: Joey won the second Chase race and should have a fast car once again this weekend. Both of the Penske cars have shown a lot of speed all year and even though Joey has struggled at Kansas for much of his career, he has finished in the top five in his last two starts here.
Carl Edwards: Carl has been really good at Kansas during his career, finishing in the top ten in ten of his fourteen starts there. However, this team has really struggled to find speed on this type of track for most of the year and they will need to find it soon with most of this segment of the Chase being run on this type of track. I think there are better drivers to choose for your team this week.
Kasey Kahne: Kasey overcame some problems last week at Dover and races his way into the Contender round by not giving up. Now he heads to Kansas where he has been very good lately with five top ten finishes in his last six starts. This team could win one of the next two races and propel themselves into the third round of the Chase. These are the types of tracks where Kasey has been very good his whole career.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR KANSAS SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kevin Harvick
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Brad Keselowski
- Joey Logano
- Denny Hamlin
- Tony Stewart
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Kyle Larson
- Austin Dillon
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kevin Harvick
- Jeff Gordon
- Brad Keselowski
- Matt Kenseth
Dark Horse: Kyle Larson
Stay Away From: Kyle Busch