The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visits Kentucky Speedway for 400 miles under the lights. Kentucky was reconfigured and repaved prior to the 2016 race — and in each of the two night races held there since, 11 of the 40 drivers encountered major problems.
That increased the potential for a late caution to throw a wrench in the proceedings, which may allow some underdog plays to have a shot at the win. We saw that exact scenario play out last year when Martin Truex Jr. lost a 15-plus second lead after Kurt Busch blew an engine with two laps to go. Fortunately for Truex, he held off a charging Kyle Larson — despite Truex staying out on old tires, while Larson grabbed four fresh rubbers prior to the final restart.
Aside from the propensity for a bit of mayhem, Kentucky behaves similar to most other 1.5-mile tracks when predicting finishing position. As a result, my machine learning model places a premium on:
- Long-run speed
- Year-to-date driver rating at all non-restrictor plate tracks
- 1.5-mile oval average finish and fastest laps so far this year
I use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best lines.