Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas (Cup Series) – Predictions, Odds & Picks
- Two straight first-time winners shake up the standings and put the pressure squarely on seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
- Another top-five finish for Kyle Busch, but no Playoff points—and that’s getting to be a real problem.
- Feast-or-famine season continues for Denny Hamlin, but recent loss of momentum should provide a cautionary note.
|What||Super Start Batteries 400 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|When||Thursday, July 23, 7:30 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||NBCSN|
The NASCAR Cup Series moves to Kansas Speedway for the Super Start Batteries 400, the eighth race this season on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway. The seven previous races on intermediate tracks have produced seven different winners, the most recent being Austin Dillon at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday.
Uncharacteristically, this week’s Cup race will lead off the weekend on Thursday, with two Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series events to follow on Friday and Saturday, as well as an Xfinity race as the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader with the Trucks.
The Super Start Batteries 400 will be contested over 267 laps (400.5 miles), with stage breaks scheduled at 80 and 160 laps. Brad Keselowski is the defending winner, having picked up his second victory at the track in May of last year.
NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas July 23 Odds
The odds for the Super Start Batteries 400 are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
|Martin Truex Jr.||+650|
|John H. Nemechek||+15000|
Jimmie Johnson Is Squarely on Playoff Bubble after Texas Race
Circumstances may conspire to keep Jimmie Johnson out of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in his final season as a full-time driver. That’s the way it looks after the seven-time series champion hit the wall last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway and struggled to a 26th-place finish, 12 laps down.
In the same race, Austin Dillon locked up a playoff spot with a win. A week earlier, rookie Cole Custer did the same, and that leaves Johnson just two points ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron for the last Playoff berth available on points. Johnson leads rookie Tyler Reddick, whose star is in the ascendant with a second-place run in Fort Worth, by a scant 14.
Johnson (+3300) missed the July race at Indianapolis—and a chance to score much-needed points–after testing positive for the coronavirus. That lost opportunity could spell the difference between competing for a championship in his last Cup season or going out with a whimper. With eight races left in the regular season, Johnson should have plenty of motivation at Kansas, where he has won three times (but not since 2015).
Inability to Score Playoff Points Is a Real Issue for Kyle Busch
With a fourth-place run at Texas, Kyle Busch picked up his eighth top-five result in 18 races this season and sits ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings, comfortably inside the Playoff bubble. Only one problem: for the 18th straight race, Busch failed to win a stage, keeping his Playoff point total at zero.
As recent postseasons have shown, Playoff points are critical to advancement through the three rounds that lead to the Championship 4 finale. Playoff points carry through the postseason until the final race and can provide a margin of error that Busch simply doesn’t have this year—unless he can get the No. 18 Toyota in gear over the next eight races.
“I thought early on in the first stage, the second stage maybe, that we had a second-place car and then as the day went, we just kept getting further and further behind,” the reigning Cup champion said after the Texas race. “Still a lot of work to do. The car didn’t drive very good at all. Just was able to get something out of nothing there at the end.”
Busch (+750) will have to get a bit more out of his equipment if he’s to have any sort of cushion heading into the Playoffs.
Recent Issues Threaten to Sap Denny Hamlin’s Momentum
Denny Hamlin is tied with Kevin Harvick for the NASCAR Cup Series lead in victories with four. Hamlin (+700) consistently has been blessed with the fastest car in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable. Recently, however, the wheels have come off the No. 11 Toyota, literally and figuratively speaking.
Hamlin was streaking toward his fifth win July 5 at Indianapolis before a blown right front tire late in the race sent him rocketing into the outside wall. On July 12 at Kentucky, he started 12th and finished 12th, lacking his customary speed on 1.5-mile tracks. And last Sunday at Texas, Hamlin spoiled a strong run when his Camry slid up the track into Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet, wrecking both cars.
Those three misadventures followed a streak of four straight top fives, including two wins. Prior to that, Hamlin hadn’t had two bad races in a row. It’s important that he right the ship Thursday at Kansas Speedway before the occasional gremlins become habit-forming.
Martin Truex Jr. (+650)—Kansas is one of Truex’s best tracks. He has two wins in 23 starts at the 1.5-miler has led 759 of 5,998 laps completed. Truex has the fourth highest driver rating among active competitors, behind only favorite Kevin Harvick (+400) and long shots Jimmie Johnson (+3300) and Matt Kenseth (+8000).
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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.