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Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Martin Truex Jr.
Last Sunday at Darlington Raceway, Denny Hamlin started the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a flourish.
Hamlin led a total of 177 laps and won the first two stages of the Southern 500. But on Lap 274, Hamlin made an extra pit stop, believing he had a loose wheel. His team could find nothing wrong, but Hamlin knew what he felt in the car and reacted accordingly.
The bottom line? That unscheduled stop and a late-race wreck cost Hamlin the chance to earn automatic advancement into the next round of the Playoffs with a victory.
As the winner of the spring race at Kansas Speedway, Hamlin hopes to atone for that lapse in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
Though we’re certain Hamlin will continue to have speed in his No. 11 Toyota, we’re looking elsewhere for the racewinner. We just don’t like Hamlin as the favorite at a meager +450 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Last year, the good news was that Bubba Wallace won the Round of 16 Playoff race at Kansas Speedway.
The bad news was that he had failed to qualify for the Playoffs, so the victory was akin to a consolation prize.
This year, however, Wallace made the 16-driver Playoff field, and a second win at the 1.5-mile speedway would elevate him into the next round of the Playoffs.
That would be extremely helpful since Wallace currently sits one point below the current cutoff for the Round of 12.
Though we don’t believe Wallace will win the Hollywood Casino 400 for a second straight year, we do like him to finish in the top three (+340 DraftKings) and top five (+150 DraftKings).
After all, Wallace followed his victory last fall with a fourth-place run at Kansas this past spring, a strong indicator of his prowess at the track.
There’s no pressure on Kyle Larson. The driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet knows he’ll be in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, thanks to his victory in last Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
But Larson has a score to settle when the series returns to Kansas Speedway for the second Round of 16 Playoff race.
In the spring event in Kansas, contact from Denny Hamlin’s Toyota turned Larson’s Chevrolet into the outside wall and cost the 2021 series champion a victory. Later in the season, Hamlin ran Larson into the outside wall in Turn 1 at Pocono.
Accordingly, Larson would like nothing better than to win back-to-back Playoff races at Hamlin’s expense, and we think he’ll do just that at +600 via DraftKings.
Larson won from the pole at Kansas in 2021, and he has six top fives in 17 starts at the track.
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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