After spending two weeks at short tracks and one week at the longest track on its calendar, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is heading back to a 1 1/2-mile oval for the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday.
KMS only has hosted the spring night race since 2011, and, in those six years, it’s been won by six different drivers. Because of this, fantasy owners often must turn to Kansas’ fall race, the Hollywood Casino 400, to provide historical context when setting lineups.
Still, many drivers don’t have a lot of experience there, which can make life pretty difficult for fantasy players. That, however, is where we come in.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning, or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Sunday’s Go Bowling 400:
Must pick: Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick got off to a rough start this season, but he’s turned it around lately. Although he finished 23rd at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, he was coming off of three consecutive top-five finishes. But we’re not just recommending the Stewart-Haas Racing driver because of his recent performance.
Historically, Harvick has been one of the series’ top drivers at Kansas. In 22 races at the track, he has two wins, six top-fives and 19 top-20s. Furthermore, his 549 laps led at Kansas trails only Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth in Cup, which bodes well for him picking up the extra fantasy points you need.
Stay away: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It’s getting harder and harder to trust Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not being able to finish well at Talladega, usually his best track, eroded much of the confidence we had left in the soon-to-be retired racer.
The fact is, Earnhardt simply doesn’t belong among fantasy’s other A-List drivers. If you’re looking to save your starts for top-tier drivers until later in the season, then maybe take a flyer on Earnhardt.Otherwise, it’s best to stay clear.
Sleeper pick: Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman quietly has had a solid season, as he’s currently sixth in the Cup standings. That aside, we’re picking the Richard Childress Racing driver because of his track record at Kansas. You basically can lock in Newman for a top-20 finish, as he has 15 of them in in 22 races at the oval, to go along with one win and seven top-10s.
Considering most of your B-List plays this season probably have gone to drivers such as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliot and maybe even Ricky Stenhouse Jr., this week’s a good time to rest those young guys and put this veteran in your lineup.
Value pick: Erik Jones
Erik Jones hasn’t raced here much on the Cup level, but the rookie driver simply is too good of a value play to ignore. With apologies to Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez, Jones easily is the C-List driver with the most upside, and should be started with confidence by fantasy owners.
Thumbnail photo via Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports Images