2020 Hollywood Casino 400 Betting Preview

October 18, 2:03 PM EDT

The final stretch in NASCAR's playoffs begins this Sunday with the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway for the running of the Hollywood Casino 400. Last week, the defending Cup Series Champion in Kyle Busch was surprisingly eliminated from the playoffs along with the likes of Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, and Aric Almirola. On Sunday, the fight to earn a spot in the final 4 for the championship finale at Phoenix begins with a return to Kansas, where Denny Hamlin won earlier this year. Hamlin has won the last two races at Kansas, going back to his victory in the 2019 Hollywood Casino 400. While Hamlin will be the deserving favorite on Sunday, I believe sharp betting value may reside with a few unexpected drivers that should garner our consideration for Sunday's checkered flag!

Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval that shares a lot of similarities to Kentucky and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The track has a relatively fresh surface of asphalt stemming from the repave and reconfiguration in 2012. As a result, Kansas Speedway produces high speeds for a 1.5-mile track, which yields advantages to the Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing cars, which have shown the most aerodynamic speed throughout the season. Drivers will continuously search for grip, which can change throughout a race due to Kansas' progressive banking, and rest assured track position will be very important this week as passing will be difficult.

From a betting standpoint, we have to put our focus on the drivers that have proven to show the most speed at these stylistic layouts this season, and since the odds are relatively conservative for the start of the Round of 8, betting match-ups will likely provide the sharpest value this week. The guy that I will be targeting in nearly all match-ups includes the driver of the #19 in Martin Truex Jr. I know Truex's name may be relatively surprising when you consider Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have combined for 16 wins this season; not to mention both drivers are tied for the most Kansas wins (3) among active drivers. With that said, Truex still provides the most betting value in all formats this week and can be a sneaky sharp H2H target.

If you look at the three races this year from Kentucky, Kansas, and most recently Las Vegas, Martin Truex leads all drivers with a 3rd place average finishing position. Truex also ranks in the top three in the fastest laps and laps led over those three events. Should I also mention that Truex is a two-time Kansas winner? There are plenty of reasons that Truex should be targeted this weekend, but one of the main reasons is that he is flying under the radar due to the fact he only has a single victory this season. While the win total is somewhat concerning, Truex's performance has been really strong, ranking 3rd in overall top 5 finishes, which includes finishes of 4th or better in four of the last five races on 1.5-mile surfaces. Truex's performance stats at these similar venues rank right alongside Denny Hamlin, who has been the best driver on 1.5-mile surfaces this season, yet Truex is getting nearly twice the value. As a result, Truex becomes one of the sharper betting options this weekend, especially in H2H match-ups!

If you are looking for a few dark horse candidates, consider both Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch as potential candidates to play the upset role. Busch stole the show in the opening race in the Round of 12 with a victory at Las Vegas, which is a very similar layout. Busch also sports a 5th place average finish over the last three events on 1.5-mile surfaces, proving that the win at Las Vegas was not a one-hit-wonder. At 20 to 1 odds, it is worth considering if lightning could strike again in the opening race in the next round of the playoffs. Lastly, I would also throw Ryan Blaney's name into the mix of legitimate dark horses. Behind Truex, Blaney has the highest average running position in the last three races on 1.5-mile surfaces yet has not always got the results to show for the performances. Still, the #12 team has the speed to win, and that is the most important ingredient for being successful at Kansas!

Free Picks

Odds courtesy of MyBookie:
Martin Truex Jr +700 (Also, take Truex in all H2H formats)
Kurt Busch +2000

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fantasy racing advice for all of this weekend's races at Kansas!