Harvick eats up cookies as yet again the favorite in KC
May 08, 2018 3:06 AM
by Micah Roberts
We’ve had six of the most diverse race tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule the past six races, but this week we go to what the series has the most of, a 1.5-mile track. There are 11 of them on the schedule and Saturday night’s KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway will be the fourth on what some like to call the cookie-cutter circuit.
The only thing really similar about the 1.5-mile tracks is the distance. Every driver will tell you each of the layouts has their own special nuance that makes it unique among the others. Most of them are banked differently, which drastically changes the maximum speed between them, and some have newer or older pavement than others, which changes the overall complexion.
There’s no denying results when you put them all together. Last season Martin Truex Jr. won seven of the 11 races on 1.5s, including both Kansas races, and the effect was winning his first Cup Series Championship. Because there are more of these tracks in the series than any other, they take on a role of higher importance and it’s the area most teams focus their attention. It’s all about winning championships, right? And this is the formula proven to work. Just ask Jimmie Johnson and his seven titles.
This season the cookie-cutter king has been Kevin Harvick who has won two of three races run on 1.5’s already, and the race he didn’t win at Texas last month, he led 87 laps and finished second. That’s a championship resume, for sure, and he comes off his season-leading fourth win (Dover) of the season that is only 11 races old.
His dominance on these tracks has been incredible and he definitely has a huge edge. We’ve recently seen these smaller different tracks with so many other drivers being competitive enough to win and we also saw Talladega, the biggest track, where every driver could win with restrictor-plates strapped on, so we may be under the belief many teams have caught up to Harvick’s winning set-up on these types, but I don’t believe it.
If being able to get 4-to-1 on Harvick, consider yourself fortunate. But I need some candidates to win that will give me a nice payday if something wild happens to Harvick like happened at Fontana when his temper got the best of him early, ruining his day with a 35th-place finish.
Stuff happens, so why not have an alternate plan and hope Harvick gets another late pit road seeping penalty. Because drivers like Harvick, Busch, and Truex have tilted the scales so far on the odds board with low numbers, all others should be offered with chunky numbers.
How about Ryan Blaney who finished fifth at Las Vegas and Texas? He led 83 laps in this race last season while driving the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford and then finished third there in the fall. His Penske Ford is better this season.
Harvick’s teammate, Kurt Busch, should also be considered and you might find 30-to-1 on the Las Vegan if shopping around.