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AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway

The 2024 season keeps rolling along as another week goes by and another Joe Gibbs Racing or Hendrick Motorsports driver comes away with the win.


Denny Hamlin picked up the victory at Dover Motor Speedway this past weekend, earning him his third victory of the season, tying him with William Byron for the most Cup Series wins this season.


Hamlin fended off a late-race run by Kyle Larson to earn the win, using aero-blocking to take the air off Larson’s car in the final few laps to prevent Larson from making the pass.


You can’t blame Hamlin for using everything in his power to hold onto the win, but at the same time I wonder if things really have to be like this?


All you have to do is turn on an Xfinity Series race on a Saturday afternoon to get your answer. Those cars are tough to handle. The trailing car can run up on the car in front, not even touch them, but still get them loose enough to make a pass.


Whatever the Cup Series did to take that away probably ought to be reversed. It’s sad that NASCAR’s best racing happens on Saturday, but the premier Series races are on Sunday.


I’m not smart enough to figure out how to fix it, but somebody has to be able to right? I just hope it doesn’t take too long for NASCAR to figure it out.


Anyway, back to Hamlin. The win for him was huge. It was the 54th victory of his career, tying him with Lee Petty for 12th all time in wins. His next win will tie him with Rusty Wallace for 11th and once he gets to 60 he will tie Kevin Harvick as a top-10 winningest driver in the 76-year history of the NASCAR Cup Series.


Hamlin has firmly placed himself into the conversation as one of the best in the sport’s history despite the one glaring blemish on his resume… 0 career Cup Series championships.


At this point I think a championship would just be icing on the Hall of Fame cake. One day he’ll give his speech, it’s just a matter of whether his HOF plaque has “Champion” inscribed on it.


Denny is a guy that you either love or you hate, but I hope NASCAR fans are smart enough to appreciate what they are seeing with guys like Denny and Kyle Busch, because once those guys are gone, it could be a while before we see another 60-race winner.


This week the Series heads to the mid-west for some 1.5-mile racing at Kansas Speedway. This place has been a playground for Toyotas recently. Toyota drivers have won four consecutive Kansas races and six of the last nine.


23XI Racing has won three of the last four, all with different drivers. Kurt Busch won here in his partial season in the #45 car in 2022, Bubba Wallace followed that up with a win in the #45 car in the 2022 playoffs and Tyler Reddick took his #45 Toyota to victory lane in last season’s playoffs.


Hamlin is the lone non-23XI driver to win here in the last two years, winning this race last season in controversial fashion for what would be his first win of the year.


It seems like this weekend will be a Toyota runaway right? Not so fast.


Team Hendrick has swept the 1.5-mile tracks this season with Kyle Larson winning at Las Vegas and Chase Elliott winning at Texas a few weeks ago. Larson was in position to win this race a year ago when contact with Hamlin sent him into the wall.


With all that in mind, it very well could be another typical Gibbs vs. Hendrick weekend. I think 23XI is the only team with a legitimate chance to stop them, but we’ll just have to see how things unfold at Kansas.


Make sure to follow me on Twitter (X) @WKFCody for my most up-to-date bets. I’ll tweet out my full card Sunday morning before the green flag.


One more quick plug, make sure to sign up for our NASCAR One & Done. Pick a driver to win every week and accumulate points all season long. Even if you missed the first quarter of the season, it’s still a fun time, and you can still possibly win some prizes.


Now, on to Kansas.

 

Track Facts

The AdventHealth 400 is a 400.5-mile (267-lap) race around the 1.5-mile tri-oval at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas is a somewhat newer track on the Cup Series circuit, having hosted its first Cup Series race in 2001. From 2001 through 2010, Kansas hosted just one race per season, but starting in 2011 the track earned a second date on the schedule and has been hosting two races per season ever since. Jeff Gordon won the inaugural race at Kansas in 2001 and followed it up with another win there in 2002. Despite winning the first two races at the track, Gordon only won three career races there. Denny Hamlin currently has the most career Kansas victories. He’s the only driver to win at the track four times. Last year, Hamlin won this race in exciting fashion when he got together with Kyle Larson down the backstretch on the final lap, sending Larson into the wall and giving Hamlin the win. In the fall it was Tyler Reddick that earned the victory. Toyotas have been incredibly strong at Kansas in recent history, having won four consecutive Kansas races and seven of the last nine. 23XI Racing has won three of the last four.

 

Who’s Hot?




Denny Hamlin is likely the hottest driver on the circuit right now and is in the midst of a stretch of races where he will likely be a threat to win every week. Hamlin called his shot at Dover, earning the win after declaring he would win on his podcast earlier in the week. Hamlin now heads to Kansas where he won last season after roughing up Kyle Larson on the final lap of the race. Hamlin currently sits fourth in the season-long point standings and is tied for the most wins this season with three. At Kansas, Hamlin currently holds the best average finish (4.6) among all drivers over the last six races. He has finished top-5 in five of the last six, has led 104 laps, and has never finished worse than 12th over that span. Hamlin is a prime candidate to be the first driver to win back-to-back races this season.

Kyle Larson came home a close second last week as his late race run to track down Hamlin came up just short. Larson is the series points leader despite winning just once this season. Larson has won the most stages (6) and led the most laps (570) of all drivers in the Cup Series this season. I’m sure Larson remembers how things went at Kansas last season, and it will certainly be interesting to see how things go this weekend. Last year Larson was put into the fence on the last lap by Denny Hamlin after leading a race-high 85 laps. Larson has the second-best average finish at Kansas over the last six races behind only Hamlin and has led a series-high 475 laps over that span. In a season where it seems either a Hendrick or JGR car will come away victorious, Larson is a pretty safe bet to make.

Martin Truex Jr. also remains hot following a top-5 finish at Dover. Truex potentially had a car to win the race last weekend, but sustained some damage on a restart that took a bit of speed out of the car. The Cup Series heads to Kansas where Truex has had some solid runs in recent history. Truex has five top-10 finishes in the last six Kansas races. His lone finish outside the top-10 came in last year’s playoffs when he crashed in the opening laps of the race due to a loose wheel. Similar to Hamlin, Truex has led 103 laps over the past six races, but he has not won any of those races. He does have two career wins at the track, but none are within the past three seasons. Truex looks to change that this weekend, and he ought to have a fantastic opportunity to do so.

 

Drivers I Like

Tyler Reddick is in a prime spot to earn a Kansas victory this weekend. He did win this race last fall to advance in the playoffs, but 23XI Racing has won three of the last four Kansas races with three different drivers, but all three drivers drove the #45 car. Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace (filling in for an injured Busch) and Reddick have all taken the #45 Toyota Camry to victory lane in the last four Kansas races. Reddick hasn’t been as historically great here as guys like Hamlin, Larson and Truex, but a fast car will certainly help him out this weekend. Can his pit crew stand up to the occasion and help him go back-to-back at Kansas? That’s the big question for this team headed into a race that Toyota hasn’t lost since the fall of 2021.





Reddick’s 23XI teammate Bubba Wallace looks to be a threat for all the same reasons as Reddick. Wallace is a recent winner here and is in equipment that has won three of the last four Kansas races. Over that span, Wallace has led 70 laps here and finished top-10 three times. Wallace’s fate lies not only in his pit crew’s hands, but in his own as well. Wallace has shown over his career to make some mistakes on the track, something Reddick is a bit less prone to. If he can run a clean race and get some good pit stops, this could be an opportunity for Wallace to punch his playoff ticket.


I can’t not mention William Byron in this article, because he will be a main threat on Sunday. Team Hendrick is undefeated on 1.5-mile tracks this season with Larson winning at Las Vegas and Chase Elliott winning at Texas earlier this season. Byron could have easily won both of those races, and he did win at both of those tracks last year. Kansas is quite similar, and Byron’s results have been quite good here. Over the last six races, Byron has the third-best average finish among active drivers (9.2). He’s led 101 laps here over that span. He’ll have a great shot on Sunday.

 

Drivers to Avoid

Kansas has not been great to Ryan Blaney over the course of his career. His average finish of 17.8 over the past six races here is 17th-best among active drivers, and he has led just three laps and carded just one top-10 in that span. Blaney also drives a Ford, the manufacturer that I don’t think I’ll be betting on until they show they can find their way to victory lane. Despite Blaney being arguably the best Ford this season, his recent struggles here are enough for me to fade him this weekend.


Chris Buescher is also in the Ford camp and Buescher has also struggled at this particular track. Buescher has a similar average finish to Blaney over the past six races (17.7) and has led 13 laps to Blaney’s three. Buescher has three career top-10’s here in 16 career starts and has never finished better than sixth. RFK as a whole has been down this year, and I believe most of that has to do with Ford’s struggles. A down team at a down track doesn’t seem like the recipe for success this weekend.


Daniel Suarez is back in my avoid column at Kansas, a track where he has similar numbers to both Blaney and Buescher listed above. His average finish over the last six Kansas races sits at 16.7, and you guessed it, he has just one top-10 over that span. He’s led 20 laps over that span as well. Even back in his earlier days with Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, Suarez never had impressive results at Kansas. His best ever finish at the track was a seventh-place result in his first career attempt at the track in the spring of 2017. Chevy has been strong this year, but I’m banking on Suarez struggling.

 

Keep an eye on…




Ross Chastain probably could have been in the drivers I like section, but he does have some things going against him this season. He’s not a Hendrick or Gibbs driver and he hasn’t had a victory yet this year, but he is holding onto a top-10 position in the point standings. Ross has had decent Kansas results recently, finishing top-10 in three of the last six races, but he has led just seven laps in that span. Of the top-eight drivers in average finish over the last six races, no other driver has led less than 101 laps in that span. He hasn’t had race winning speed here, or this season as a whole up to this point. Don’t count Ross out from sneaking out a win this weekend and being the first “underdog” to win a non-superspeedway race this year.


Alex Bowman remains here another week after posting a strong run at Dover. It’s hard to bet against Team Hendrick right now, as they have swept the 1.5-mile tracks this season with wins from Larson and Elliott. Bowman has been the least impressive Hendrick driver this year, but don’t mistake that for him having poor performances. Despite being the only Hendrick driver without a win, Bowman still sits ninth in the point standings. At Kansas, Bowman has three top-10s in the last six races including one top-5 finish and 107 laps led. He’s struggled at 1.5-mile tracks this season, but he certainly has a solid chance in great equipment this week. He’s been hot lately, finishing top-10 in three of the last four Cup Series races.


Austin Dillon has the opportunity to surprise a few people this week. I’m by no means projecting a win, but Dillon’s recent Kansas performance at least hints at the possibility of a strong run. Dillon has three top-10 finishes at Kansas over the past six races. He also finished top-10 at the last 1.5-mile race (Texas) with an eighth-place finish. The true 1.5-mile tracks may be the strong suit in an otherwise forgettable season for Richard Childress racing. I’d check the odds for a Dillon top-10 this weekend, he may have a shot to get the job done.

 

Current Bets

I’ve got nothing on the book yet, but here is what I have my eye on (all lines via DraftKings):


To Win:

Denny Hamlin +400

Tyler Reddick +600

Bubba Wallace +1500

Alex Bowman +2500

 

Top-10:

Austin Dillon +700

 

Be sure to follow Cody (@WKFCody) on X for his most up-to-date NASCAR bets and weekly NASCAR betting card posted on Sunday mornings. Also, listen to the WKF NASCAR Podcast anywhere you get your podcasts. The WKF NASCAR Podcast comes out at 7 a.m. every Friday morning over the course of the season.


Don’t forget to join our WKF Fantasy NASCAR One & Done! For more information, DM @WKFCody or @WKFNate on X.

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