On Sunday, October 24th, NASCAR’s Cup Series heads to Kansas City, Kansas, for the Hollywood Casino 400. This is the second trip to Kansas Speedway in 2021 as the Cup Series was here in May for the Buschy McBush Race 400.
Sunday’s event marks the 34th overall race of the season, the 8th race of the postseason, and the second race of the Round of 8.
Last weekend, Kyle Larson dominated the field in Texas to pick up his 8th win of the season. He also punched his ticket for the Final 4 race and a shot at the championship. With three spots remaining, and seven drivers vying for those spots, Sunday’s race is going to be an intense on-track battle.
With how dominant he’s been this year, it’s no surprise that Kyle Larson is the betting favorite to win at Kansas on Sunday. He’s followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott.
Let’s get into our racing gear, strap in tightly, rev those engines, and make some checkered flag winning predictions for the Hollywood Casino 400.
The Hollywood Casino 400 is set to begin at 3PM ET and will air live on NBCSN.
What to Watch for at Kansas
With all of the excitement heading into this weekend, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at the Kansas Speedway:
Which driver will win this race?
Will we see a non-Playoff driver win?
Can another Playoff driver advance to Championship race?
Will we see anyone move above or below the cutoff line?
Can Kyle Larson win again?
Current Playoff Standings
The following is the current Playoff standings based on Playoff points after the first of three races in the Round of 8:
Kyle Larson (4123)
Ryan Blaney (4072)
Denny Hamlin (4064)
Kyle Busch (4063)
Below Cutoff Line
Chase Elliott (4055)
Brad Keselowski (4048)
Martin Truex Jr. (4041)
Joey Logano (4020)
Eliminated From Playoffs
Previous Hollywood Casino 400 Winners
As mentioned, the first ever Cup Series race at Kansas was held in 2001 and won by Jeff Gordon. Since then, Joey Logano would go on to win this race three times which leads all drivers. Logano is also the reigning winner having taken the checkered flag in 2020.
The following is a list of previous winners dating back to 2005:
It feels like a broken record talking about Kyle Larson. He’s a threat to win every weekend and continues to dominate despite many critics thinking he will cool off. Instead, Larson is carrying the momentum all the way into the Championship 4 race.
Last weekend, Larson absolutely crushed the field at Texas as he picked up his 8th win of the season, second win in a row, and third win of the Playoffs. Kyle led 256 of the 334 laps and was truly the class of the field.
But that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as Larson has been the class of the field for the entire season so far. He leads all drivers in every major category and has twice as many wins as the second place driver Martin Truex Jr. who has four victories on the season.
Other than a crash at Talladega, Larson has been in the Top 10 for every Playoff race. Even with the crash, Kyle is still averaging a 9.7 finish in the postseason which is on par with his 9.4 average finish in 2021.
At Kansas, Larson has yet to win a race. In 13 starts, he has three Top 5s, five Top 10s and a 16.6 average finish. Kyle does have two Top 5s and three top 10s in the last five races at this track, but finished 19th in the spring race at Kansas.
It’s rather surprising that Larson has yet to win at this track considering his excellence at the 1.5 venues. With that said, take Kyle to finish in the Top 10, Top 5, and Top 3 this weekend.
Denny Hamlin (+550)
Top 5 (-145)
Top 10 (-500)
Sitting 3rd in the standings, Denny Hamlin has been “Mr. Consistency” in the Playoffs. In seven races, he’s finished 11th or better in all of them including four Top 5s and two victories.
Last weekend, Denny finished 11th at Texas which was the worst result this postseason to date. However, Hamlin has won a race in each Playoff round so far and is a realistic contender for a win this weekend.
In 26 starts at Kansas, Hamlin has three wins, eight Top 5s, nine Top 10s and a 14.4 average finish which is 6th best among the field.
In the last eight Kansas races, Hamlin has two wins, four Top 5s, four Top 10s and has finished in the Top 16 for all of them.
Denny was 12th in this race last year, but won this event in 2019. Additionally, he was 12th in the spring Kansas race this year.
It’s time for Hamlin to have a solid run and I like his chances this weekend. Take Hamlin to be a Top 10 and Top 5 car with a potential battle against Larson for the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch (+750)
Top 5 (-125)
Top 10 (-450)
It’s been 15 races since Kyle Busch last won. In the Playoffs, he’s been up and down with Top 5 finishes along with results outside of the Top 20.
Last weekend, Busch finished 8th at Texas and led 20 laps which was the third highest total for that race. He’s tallied three Top 8s in the last four Playoff races including two in a row. Kyle has moved up to 4th in the standings and is hoping for a strong run this weekend in the Hollywood Casino 400.
There is potential for a Busch Top 5 result as he does have two wins, nine Top 5s, and 13 Top 10s in 27 starts at Kansas. He also has a 15.1 average finish which is 8th best among the field.
Furthermore, Kyle has two wins, nine Top 5s, and 11 Top 10s in the last 13 races at this track. Busch finished 2nd in this race in 2018, 3rd in this race in 2019 and 5th last year. Additionally, Kyle Busch won the spring Kansas event this season.
Busch may have never won this fall Kansas race, but he does have seven straight Top 10s in the Hollywood Casino 400. Furthermore, six of those Top 10s were actually Top 5 finishes.
Take “Rowdy” to be a Top 10 and Top 5 car with a Top 3 ceiling this weekend.
Chase Elliott (+950)
Top 5 (-110)
Top 10 (-330)
With a 7th place result at Texas last weekend, Chase Elliott is once again 5th in the Playoff standings. This is his highest mark of the postseason so far.
The 2020 Cup Series champ is having a “ho-hum” Playoff run as of the first seven races. In fact, it was rather concerning to see Elliott finish 12th at the Charlotte ROVAL considering he’s the best road course driver in the Cup Series.
Yet, it furthers my point that Elliott won’t be in the Championship 4 race this year. Chase is just a notch below where he was in 2020 and there are too many other drivers performing better than the #9 car in the postseason.
For Elliott to make it to the Championship race, he’s going to need a victory this weekend or next. Chase has been solid at Kansas over the last four years and does have a chance for a good result.
In 11 starts, Elliott has one win, five Top 5s, seven Top 10s and a 10.5 average finish which is 2nd best among the field.
Elliott has five Top 6 finishes in the last six races at this track. He was 6th in this race last year, 2nd in 2019 and won it in 2018. Chase finished 5th in the spring Kansas race this year.
I think Elliott will be a Top 10 car with a Top 5 finish, but I don’t see Chase beating out other drivers like his teammate Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin.
Martin Truex Jr (+1000)
Top 5 (+140)
Top 10 (-260)
Martin Truex Jr. is in need of a solid run this weekend as he’s on the wrong side of the cutoff line and in danger of being eliminated.
Truex has fallen to 7th in the standings after a crash at Texas that saw him finish 25th overall. That was his second straight result outside of the Top 25 as Martin finished 29th at Charlotte ROVAL two weeks ago.
In 26 Kansas starts, Truex has two wins, nine Top 5s, 13 Top 10s and a 13.0 average finish which is 4th best among the field.
In the last four years at this track, Truex has been one of the best drivers. He’s tallied two wins, five Top 5s, and eight Top 10s in the last nine races. Truex was 9th in this race last year, 6th in 2019, 5th in 2018 and won this race in 2017.
Martin finished 6th in the spring Kansas race and should be a Top 5 car this Sunday. He needs a strong run to get back on the right side of the cutoff line.
The Best Hollywood Casino 400 Betting Value
The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for the Hollywood Casino 400 due to their current betting odds, their past success at Kansas Speedway, and their 2021 season so far:
Brad Keselowski (+1400)
Top 5 (+175)
Top 10 (-200)
Keselowski came into the Playoffs performing below his standards. However, he turned things around in the postseason with five Top 10 results and seven Top 20 finishes.
Last weekend, Brad finished 4th at Texas which bumped him up to 6th in the standings. He was in the 8th and final spot entering the Round of 8.
At Kansas, Keselowski has had some success in his career. In 23 starts, he has two wins, seven Top 5s, 13 Top 10s and an 11.3 average finish which is the 3rd best finish among the field.
Keselowski has four Top 4 finishes in the last five Kansas races including three in a row. He was 4th in this race last year and third in the spring race this year.
I believe Keselowski will be a Top 10 car with a Top 5 ceiling in the Hollywood Casino 400. I like his Top 5 odds of +175.
Kevin Harvick (+1800)
Top 5 (+230)
Top 10 (-155)
Despite being eliminated from the Playoffs, Harvick had a solid result last weekend at Texas as he finished 5th overall. That’s his third Top 5 and sixth Top 10 in the last seven races. A crash at the ROVAL two weeks ago is his worst result since the Texas road race five months ago.
Harvick has yet to win this year, but does have nine Top 5s and 22 Top 10s with an 11.2 average finish. He’s in danger of snapping a streak of 11 straight seasons with at least one victory. Last year, Harvick had nine wins.
His 2021 run is similar to what Kyle Busch did last year when he had a strong 2019, but went into a slump in 2020.
Kevin heads to Kansas this weekend where he has the best numbers among active drivers. In 31 starts, he has three wins, 11 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s and a 9.1 average finish.
Harvick leads all active drivers in wins, Top 5s, Top 10s, average finish, poles, laps, laps led, and lead lap finishes. He’s tied with Jeff Gordon for the most wins and Top 5s all-time. He’s one Top 10 finish behind Jimmie Johnson for the most all-time.
Harvick has three straight Top 4 results at Kansas and was runner-up in this race last year. Harvick has won this race twice.
It’s now or never for Harvick to get that win. I like for Kevin to be a Top 10 and Top 5 car with a Top 3 ceiling. He’ll need some luck to beat out Larson and Hamlin.
Joey Logano (+2000)
Top 5 (+200)
Top 10 (-175)
Over the first six Playoff races, Logano finished in the Top 11 for all of them. He had a nice run going that saw the #22 car climb as high as 3rd in the standings. Unfortunately, things have gone downhill for the 2018 Cup Series champ.
Logano had engine issues last weekend in Texas and finished 30th overall. That caused Joey to tumble down to 8th in the standings.
At Kansas, Logano has had success. In 24 starts, he has three wins, eight Top 5s and nine Top 10s. All three of his victories have come in this race including taking the checkered flag last year.
However, the biggest reason that Logano isn’t a bigger betting favorite is because of his up and down finishes at Kansas Speedway.
For example, in the last nine Kansas races, Logano has one win, two Top 5s and two Top 10s. He also has five results outside of the Top 15, three outside of the Top 20, and two outside of the Top 30.
I believe Joey will be a Top 10 car with a Top 5 ceiling.
The Top Longshot to Win the Hollywood Casino 400
Ryan Newman (+15000)
Top 5 (+2500)
Top 10 (+700)
Newman comes into this weekend’s event having crashed out of two straight races and scoring three DNFs in the last five weeks. These certainly aren’t numbers that inspire confidence, but it also reinforces why he’s such a longshot for Sunday’s race.
In 31 Kansas starts, Newman has one win, three Top 5s and seven Top 10s. His +700 odds for a Top 10 finish are high, but it might be worth a very small flier if Newman can dial up some old-school magic on Sunday.
The Rest of the Field at Kansas
The following drivers are worth keeping an eye on in this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 race from Kansas Speedway:
William Byron (+1000) – In seven starts at Kansas, Byron has one Top 5 and four Top 10s. In fact, he has four straight Top 10 results and led laps in four of the last five Kansas races. Byron could be at play for a Top 10 finish, but a Top 5 result might be asking for too much.
Tyler Reddick (+2200) – In four starts at this track, Reddick has two Top 10 results. However, both of those finishes came in the spring Kansas races and not this one. But he does have a 13.5 average finish which is 5th best among the field.
Kurt Busch (+5000) – In 31 starts, Kurt Busch has yet to win a race at this track. He’s tied with two other drivers for the most starts without a win at Kansas. Busch has just four Top 5 finishes as well. But, his 15.9 average finish is 10th best among the field and he also has 12 Top 10 finishes. Kurt has scored five Top 10 finishes in the last eight races at this track. His -115 odds for a Top 10 result does have some appeal.
The Best Top 5 Bet for the Hollywood Casino 400
There are a few drivers that are worthy of this spot like Larson, Hamlin and Busch. However, I’m going with Martin Truex Jr. for a few reasons.
First reason is that his Top 5 odds are better than the other drivers mentioned above. The second reason is due to his success over the last four years at Kansas.
In his last nine starts at Kansas, Truex has two wins, four Top 5s, five Top 5s, and eight Top 10s. He won this race in 2017, was 5th in 2018, 6th in 2019 and 9th in 2020.
The Best Top 10 Bet for the Hollywood Casino 400
Harvick is the ideal choice for this wager due to his past success at this track and his -155 odds to finish in the Top 10.
Kevin leads all active drivers in wins, Top 5s, Top 10s, average finish, laps led, lead lap finishes and poles at Kansas. Furthermore, he’s had a strong run over the last five years at this track.
In his last 11 starts at Kansas Speedway, Harvick has two wins, six Top 3s, seven Top 5s, nine Top 10s and 11 Top 13s. He’s posted three straight Top 4 finishes and has led laps in eight of the last 11 Kansas events.
With no pressure from the Playoffs, since he was eliminated, Harvick can go out there and just focus on winning this race. So, a Top 10 result is half in the bag right now.
Hollywood Casino 400 Checkered Flag
My Top 5 drivers for the Hollywood Casino 400 are Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
Yes, that’s right, I’m picking all three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers that are still left in the Playoffs to finish in the Top 5 this weekend. Combined, these three drivers have seven wins at Kansas.
My two favorite drivers are Truex and Larson, with Kyle being from my hometown. However, I’m not picking either of them to win. I mean, we could pick Kyle Larson every week, but what would be the fun of that?
I’m also not picking Harvick to win. As much as I would like to see Kevin get one win on the season, I think the checkered flag will come down to JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.
Since I recently went with Busch to win, I’m taking Hamlin this weekend. He’s been the second best driver in 2021 to Larson and should make the Championship 4 race in two weeks. I believe he punches his ticket on Sunday with a win in the Hollywood Casino 400.
My Top 5 Drivers
Martin Truex Jr.
Hollywood Casino 400 Betting Recap
Brad Keselowski (+1400)
Kevin Harvick (+1800)
Joey Logano (+2000)
Ryan Newman (+15000)
Denny Hamlin (+550)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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