NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Saturday’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas
Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Saturday's Digital Ally 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) at Kansas Speedway.
After stops at a few short tracks, pack-racing at Talladega and last week’s clash at The Monster Mile, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to a 1.5-mile racetrack for the first time since visiting Texas on March 31.
And with a return to a 1.5-miler also comes a return of the high-downforce, low-horsepower race package.
Now that we’re 11 races into the 2019 season, we finally have some data to lean on when trying to project which drivers will be fast this weekend at Kansas.
With this in mind, I’ll use results from Las Vegas and Texas — both 1.5-mile racetracks with low tire wear — to make my NASCAR Props Challenge picks for Saturday’s Digital Ally 400.
1. Which driver will finish higher? Denny Hamlin or Brad Keselowski?
Denny Hamlin has been among the best drivers at the 1.5-mile tracks this season, including a win at Texas.
Keselowski’s numbers are skewed due to a mechanical issue at Texas, but I still lean Hamlin because his series-best average finishes of 5.5 at Las Vegas and Texas are too good to ignore.
2. Over/Under 1.5 drivers lead over 80 laps at Kansas?
I think passing is going to be difficult Saturday night as the cooler track temps will result in even less off-throttle time.
Because of this, we should see a handful of drivers dominate laps led as opposed to them finishing more evenly distributed.
3. Martin Truex Jr. has four straight top-five finishes at Kansas. Does this streak continue?
Truex has been awesome at Kansas in his career, but he hasn’t been close to as dominant with this aero package at similar racetracks.
Add in the fact that he’s coming off a win last week at Dover and I think this is a nice pivot spot to not only follow the data, but differentiate ourselves from the majority of Props Challenge players who will likely expect a top-five finish.
4. Over/Under 42.5 race points for Ryan Blaney?
To go over, Blaney would need something along the lines of a top-five finish in the race overall, as well as top fives in both stages. Can he do it? Sure.
But should we expect that? No.
5. Three of the past four Kansas winners have started in the top four. Will Saturday’s winner start in the top four?
Joey Logano won at Las Vegas from the 10th starting spot while Hamlin qualified sixth prior to his win in Texas. While passing the leader will be hard, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver outside of the top four to contend for the victory.
6. Will all three Team Penske cars finish in the top 10?
Individually, all three Team Penske cars are among my top 10 heading into the weekend. In fact, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney are all listed among the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s top 10 drivers in betting odds this week.
However, expecting all three of these drivers to collectively run clean enough races for top 10s is a tough ask. They should all have top-10 speed, but predicting those results is too rich for my blood.
7. Over/Under 15.5 lead changes at Kansas?
Because I think passing the leader is going to be difficult with a cool racetrack, let’s go under.
8. Which driver will score more stage points at Kansas? Kyle Busch or Joey Logano?
This one is very close, but Kyle Busch’s superior average finish and running position at Texas and Vegas gives him the nod over Joey Logano.
9. Over/Under 19.5 lead lap finishers at Kansas?
Las Vegas is a 400-mile race just like Kansas, and that event finished with 18 drivers on the lead lap.
10. Kurt Busch has an average finish of 10.5 the last six races at Kansas. Will he finish in the top 10 on Saturday?
Busch is tied for 11th in terms of best average running position at Vegas and Texas, so he’s right there in terms of top-10 speed. However, whenever a question like this is so close, I’ll always defer to the “no” because there are other factors (mechanical issues, penalties, pit road snafus, etc.) that can result in a poor finish.