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NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Race Guide and Betting Preview

The stretch run of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season is upon us. With just 10 points races left on the schedule, the action is bound to be more intense than ever. Drivers will be fighting for wins to secure their postseason spots, as well as for finishing positions to accumulate as many points as possible. The heat will be turned up a notch starting this weekend, with the annual running of the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. While it will be hard to top last year’s thrilling battle for the win between brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch, anything can happen at the 1.5-mile oval. Read on for a complete Quaker State 400 betting preview.

Quaker State 400 Betting Info

Location: Sparta, KY
Date: Sunday, July 12th
Start Time: 2:30pm E.T.
TV: FS1
Length: 400 miles (267 laps)
Stages: Stage 1 Laps 1-80; Stage 2 Laps 81-160; Stage 3 Laps 161-267
Pole Sitter: Kyle Busch
Defending Champion: Kurt Busch

BRad Keselowski
Credit: wdef.com

Quaker State 400 Driver Stats

The past two weeks of NASCAR Cup Series racing have been the Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin show. After each claiming a victory in the Pocono doubleheader two weeks ago (both finished runner-up in the race they didn’t win as well), the two were once again the class of the field last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A Brickyard 400 win will unfortunately allude Denny Hamlin for another year. Hamlin appeared poised to earn the trip to victory lane until he suffered a flat tire with seven laps to go, wrecking from the lead. Harvick, who was running second at the time, held off Matt Kenseth to “steal” the victory. The win was his fourth of the 2020 season and puts him in a tie with none other than Hamlin. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are the only other drivers with multiple wins this season with 2 each.

While Hamlin may have had the faster car at Indy, it was Harvick who spent much of the race out front, leading 68 of the race’s 161 laps compared to Hamlin’s 19. Chase Elliott led 26 laps while William Byron (15), Logano (14) and Kenseth (12) were the other drivers to lead double-digit circuits. Another finish to note from the Brickyard was Aric Almirola’s third-place run. Outside of Harvick and Hamlin, Almirola has been the hottest Cup Series driver of late. The Indianapolis showing marked his fifth consecutive top-5 finish and third top-3 in the last four races. If momentum and recent form are any indications, Almirola is due for a trip to victory lane.

Several notable driver statistics for both the 2020 season and Kentucky Speedway can be found below.

Top-5 Finishes in 2020

9 – Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick
7 – Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott
6 – Brad Keselowski
5 – Aric Almirola
4 – Erik Jones
3 – Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2 – Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr.
1 – Seven Drivers Tied

Laps Led in 2020

  1. Kevin Harvick-640
  2. Joey Logano-538
  3. Denny Hamlin-455
  4. Chase Elliott-451
  5. Alex Bowman-381
  6. Brad Keselowski-365
  7. Martin Truex Jr.-338
  8. Ryan Blaney-329
  9. Clint Bowyer-139
  10. Kyle Busch-130

Average Finishing Position in 2020

(Drivers with full time Cup Series status)

  1. Kevin Harvick-6.9
  2. Brad Keselowski-9.4
  3. Denny Hamlin-10.2
  4. Kurt Busch-11.8
  5. Aric Almirola-13.2
  6. Chase Elliott-13.4
  7. Kyle Busch-14.2
  8. Ryan Blaney-14.3
  9. Joey Logano-14.5
  10. Martin Truex Jr.-15.1

Average Finishing Position at Kentucky

(Drivers with four-plus starts at the track)

  1. Chase Elliott-10.0
  2. Jimmie Johnson-11.9
  3. Matt Kenseth-12.0
  4. Kyle Busch-13.8
  5. Brad Keselowski-14.6
  6. Kurt Busch-14.6
  7. Erik Jones-15.0
  8. Kevin Harvick-15.8
  9. Ryan Blaney-16.0
  10. Martin Truex Jr.-16.2

Driver Rating in 2020

*The Driver Rating formula combines Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps and Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum score per race is 150 points*

Kentucky Speedway Overview

Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval. The track celebrated its 20th birthday last month but does differ a bit from the original version that opened back in 2000 thanks to a 2016 repave. The track affords drivers plenty of grip, but a bumpy surface can still lead to handling issues. Racing too hard into the turns specifically can spell trouble. The NASCAR Cup Series has been running at Kentucky since 2011.

While looking back at the recent form for drivers is always a good handicapping strategy, it is worth noting that Kentucky Speedway is a far cry from the three most recent stops NASCAR has made at Talladega, Pocono, and Indianapolis. In fact, NASCAR is yet to run on a very comparable track to Kentucky this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduling, the race at Chicagoland was moved and the race at Kansas is now happening after Kentucky rather than before. As a result, there is no true comparison for the Quaker State 400 this year like there typically is.

Kentucky Speedway Betting Trends

Martin Truex Jr. has found success recently at Kentucky Speedway, winning two of the last three races. Prior to that, Brad Keselowski claimed three wins in five races at the track from 2012-2016. Last year’s winner Kurt Busch has shown a tendency to run well at both Kentucky and Kansas. Kyle Busch owns a pair of Kentucky victories and Erik Jones has also posted several good runs. Matt Kenseth was a winner at the track in 2013. While he isn’t technically a fulltime driver anymore, it will be interesting to see how he follows up on last week’s second-place finish at Indy.

Quaker State 400 Best Bets

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski | +800

There are a handful of drivers to watch for this Sunday, but I’m going to roll with Brad Keselowski. Already a two-time winner in 2020, Keselowski also has three wins at Kentucky Speedway, the most of any driver. His average finish at the track is 14.6, which is tied for fifth with 2019 Kentucky winner Kurt Busch (+2000). His 2020 driver rating of 99.6 puts him behind only co-favorite Kevin Harvick (+500) and Chase Elliott (+800). Harvick has never won a Cup race at Kentucky. While he will again be in contention, I like the 8-1 price on Keselowski better in terms of betting value. Book another win for the No. 2 team.

Other Picks

Top 5 Finish: Kevin Harvick Yes | +100
Top 10 Finish: Erik Jones | -106
Top 10 Finish: Aric Almirola | +100
Best Finishing Position Matchup: Kevin Harvick (vs. Kyle Busch) | -115
Best Finish in Group: Matt Kenseth (vs. William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Christopher Bell) | +225


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