On Sunday, October 18th, NASCAR will be live from Kansas City, Kansas for the Hollywood Casino 400. This event marks the beginning of the 3rd round of the Playoffs and it’s the 33rd overall race of the season. Additionally, it’s the second time for Cup Series drivers to race at Kansas this season.
Following Charlotte’s road course last weekend, the Playoff field was cut down from 12 to eight drivers. Chase Elliott once again showed that he was the best road course driver in the field by winning at the ROVAL.
However, this weekend’s race is at a 1.5 mile track and Denny Hamlin is the betting favorite according to NASCAR betting sites. He’s followed by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott.
The Kansas Speedway is a traditional tri-oval track with a lap distance of 1.5 miles. This weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 race breaks down as follows:
The Hollywood Casino 400 is set to begin at 2:30 PM ET and will air live on NBC.
What to Watch for at Kansas
With all of the racing excitement heading into the 3rd round of the Playoffs, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Kansas:
Can Hamlin win a third straight Kansas race?
Will Team Penske return to Kansas glory?
Can Truex find his winning ways?
Will a non-Playoff driver win at Kansas?
Will a Playoff driver advance to the championship race?
2020 NASCAR Playoff Standings
The current Playoff standings (based on points) heading into the 3rd round of the Playoffs:
Kevin Harvick (4067)
Denny Hamlin (4054)
Brad Keselowski (4035)
Chase Elliott (4027)
Joey Logano (4022)
Martin Truex Jr. (4017)
Alex Bowman (4009)
Kurt Busch (4006)
Previous Hollywood Casino 400 Winners
The first Hollywood Casino 400 was run in 2001 and won by Jeff Gordon. He would go on to win this race in 2002 as well. Along with Gordon, five other drivers are tied for the most wins in this race at two apiece.
The following is a list of winners dating back to 2010:
According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Hollywood Casino 400 from Kansas:
Martin Truex Jr
Denny Hamlin (+375)
Top 3 (+110)
Top 5 (-155)
Top 10 (-530)
With the reshuffling of the standings for the start of the 3rd round, Hamlin comes back down to 2nd overall in points, just a handful behind Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin’s opening round of the Playoffs produced a 15.3 average finish, but he picked it up in the 2nd round with a 3rd, 1st and 15th last weekend at Charlotte. That’s an average finish of 6.3. Now, he heads to a track where he’s won two in a row – Kansas Speedway.
In 24 starts, Hamlin has three wins, eight Top 5s, nine Top 10s, and a 14.5 average finish which is 6th best among drivers. He’s scored four Top 5s in the last six races at this track including winning the Super Start Batteries 400 this year in addition to last year’s Hollywood Casino 400.
I believe Hamlin will be one of the cars to beat this weekend. You can pencil him in for a Top 10, Top 5, and a Top 3 finish. He will be one of the drivers contending for the checkered flag by time it’s all said and done.
Kevin Harvick (+400)
Top 3 (+110)
Top 5 (-155)
Top 10 (-530)
Another driver that will be right up there with Hamlin racing for the checkered flag is Kevin Harvick. Although he hasn’t won in two years, his overall body of work at Kansas is more impressive than Hamlin’s.
Harvick has just as many wins as the #11 car, but he has more Top 5s (9) and more Top 10s (16). In fact, Harvick leads all drivers in average finish (9.6), laps, laps led, and Top 5s.
In the last 14 Kansas races, Harvick has two wins, eight Top 5s, 10 Top 10s, and three runner ups. He was 4th this year in Kansas and 9th last year.
Harvick has already captured two wins in the Playoffs so far, and has an average finish of 10.0 this postseason. For the year, Harvick has a 6.9 average finish.
I fully expect the #4 car to be in the hunt for the win on Sunday. Go ahead and lock him in for a Top 10, Top 5 and Top 3 finish.
Chase Elliott (+500)
Top 3 (+160)
Top 5 (-115)
Top 10 (-385)
Last weekend, Chase Elliott won the Bank of America ROVAL 400 for the second straight year. I said the race would come down to Elliott and Truex for the win. I also stated that Elliott was the safe play for bettors, but I went with Truex for the value.
Just because we are now transitioning from a road course to the mid-distance tracks, doesn’t mean Elliott still won’t be a factor. Kansas happens to be a track where he’s run well at his young career.
In nine starts, Elliott has one win, four Top 5s, five Top 10s, and an 11.6 average finish which is 3rd best among drivers.
He won this race in 2018 and finished 2nd in the Hollywood Casino 400 last year. Elliott was 12th at Kansas in July, but has led laps in three of the last four races at this track.
Elliott has four Top 7s in six Playoff races so far including three Top 5s. In addition to 1st last weekend at Charlotte, he was also 5th at Talladega. Although he’s 4th in the standings, Elliott has a strong chance at making it to the championship race for the first time in his career.
I expect the #9 car to be a Top 10, Top 5 and potentially a Top 3 car. His Top 5 odds offer solid value.
Martin Truex Jr (+500)
Top 3 (+150)
Top 5 (-122)
Top 10 (-420)
Despite only having one victory on the season, the 2017 NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. is quietly hanging in there with the other favorites. He has three Top 7 finishes in the first two rounds of the Playoffs and sits 6th in the standings.
Truex is going to need some Top 5 finishes in the 3rd round to advance to the championship race this year if he’s unable to get a win to advance. Fortunately for the #19 car, Kansas is a track he does well at.
Truex swept both Kansas races in 2017 and has gone on to score four Top 6 finishes in the last five races at this speedway since then. Last year he was 6th in this race and in July he finished 3rd. He’s also led laps in five of the last seven races at this track.
I like Truex to finish as a Top 10 and Top 5 car with his ceiling being a Top 3 result.
I thought he had a great chance to win at ROVAL last weekend, but once again he was unable to. It’s hard to pick my favorite driver to win this Sunday when he hasn’t taken the checkered flag since Martinsville four months ago.
Brad Keselowski (+800)
Top 3 (+225)
Top 5 (+110)
Top 10 (-295)
Keselowski opened the first round of the Playoffs with a win at Richmond. Unfortunately, his performances haven’t been good since then. In the 2nd round, Keselowski could only average a 16.3 average finish, which is concerning considering how well he runs at Talladega and Las Vegas.
Even more troubling is the fact that Keselowski has only cracked the Top 10 once in the Playoffs this year and that was his Richmond win.
At Kansas, the #2 car has two wins, five Top 5s, 11 Top 10s, and a 12.0 average finish which is 4th best among drivers. He’s scored two Top 3 finishes in the last three races with a win in the spring of 2019. Keselowski was 19th in this race last year and 2nd at Kansas in July.
With the way Keselowski has run this postseason, I have a hard time picking him to win at Kansas this weekend. In fact, I believe his ceiling is a Top 5 finish. More than likely, he will barely crack the Top 10. I would avoid betting on Keselowski this Sunday. There are better options among the favorites.
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 the Kansas Speedway and their 2020 season to date:
Joey Logano (+1200)
Top 3 (+400)
Top 5 (+185)
Top 10 (-200)
Like Truex Jr., Logano has flown under the radar this postseason. In six Playoff races, he has three Top 3 finishes including a surprising 2nd place at Charlotte last weekend.
Logano hasn’t won since Phoenix in March, which is concerning considering he will most likely need a win to advance to the championship race this postseason or for one of the four other drivers ahead of him in the standings to have a few crashes this round.
At Kansas, Logano has had some success in his career with two wins and seven Top 5s. However, he’s run into some difficulties in the last three races at this speedway as the #22 car has not been able to crack the Top 15. Furthermore, he also has four DNFs at this track.
In typical Logano fashion, I can see the 2018 Cup champ sneaking into the Top 10 this weekend and possibly cracking the Top 5 which is where his betting value is at. A two-to-one payout for Logano finishing Top 5 is appealing.
Kyle Busch (+1200)
Top 3 (+400)
Top 5 (+185)
Top 10 (-200)
After starting the postseason with four straight Top 7 finishes, Kyle Busch ended up 27th at Talladega due to a crash and 30th at the ROVAL last weekend. These results led to Busch being eliminated from the Playoffs on Sunday.
Now, with no pressure on the #18 car to defend the championship, he can turn his attention towards trying to get a win in the next four races. Busch has had at least one race win in 15 straight seasons and he’s hoping to continue that streak this year.
The No. 18 has sported some spooky schemes over the years. 👻
Kansas is a track where Busch has had modest success at as he’s scored one win and 11 Top 10s. However, I think he offers value with his Top 5 odds.
In the last 11 Kansas races, Busch has 10 Top 11 finishes. Furthermore, he has one win, seven Top 5s, and nine Top 10s. That’s some solid racing and it gives me confidence that he can sneak into the Top 5 this weekend.
Kurt Busch (+2000)
Top 3 (+600)
Top 5 (+300)
Top 10 (-125)
Perhaps, the biggest surprise in the Round of 8 is Kurt Busch. He wasn’t predicted to make it this far into the postseason. In fact, he cost his brother Kyle a spot in this round due to his win at Las Vegas three races ago. That victory automatically advanced him into the 3rd round.
Yet, when you look at Kurt’s stats in the first six Playoff races, he has been performing well. Busch has two Top 5s, three Top 8s, and five Top 15s. If it wasn’t for the crash at Talladega, Kurt would’ve had even more success.
With that said, I really like Busch’s Top 10 value at Kansas this weekend. Although he’s never won at this track, Busch has 12 Top 10s in 29 starts. His 15.1 average finish is 8th best among active drivers.
Additionally, he’s scored eight Top 10 finishes in the last 11 races at this speedway. Furthermore, he has three straight Top 9 results including 4th in this race last year.
Alex Bowman (+2000)
Top 3 (+550)
Top 5 (+285)
Top 10 (-134)
I will admit, on the surface, Bowman’s 19.6 average finish is concerning. However, when you dig further into his stats, Bowman actually offers value this weekend.
In the las four Kansas races, Bowman has four Top 11s. In fact, in his last three Hollywood Casino 400 appearances, Bowman has finished 7th, 9th and 8th. But wait, there’s more to like about Bowman this Sunday.
In the six Playoff races so far, Bowman has finished in the Top 16 for all of them including one Top 5 and four Top 10s. In the third round, he was 5th at Vegas, 14th at Talladega and 8th at ROVAL.
I believe Bowman’s Top 10 odds offer value as he looks like a solid play to crack the Top 10 this weekend.
The Top Longshot to Win the Hollywood Casino 400
Matt Kenseth (+10000)
Top 3 (+300)
Top 5 (NA)
Top 10 (+300)
Kenseth’s odds to win this race are such a longshot that online betting sites aren’t even listing his Top 5 line.
Kenseth’s return from retirement hasn’t been a Hollywood story on the rack as he only has two Top 10s and one Top 5 in 28 starts this year. However, he does provide a longshot opportunity for a Top 10 finish at Kansas this weekend.
For his career, Kenseth has won twice at this track and also has 13 Top 10 finishes. His 15.0 average finish is 7th best among drivers and he was 17th at this track in July.
Hollywood Casino 400 Checkered Flag
There’s a reason why the top drivers are the betting favorites this weekend. That’s due to how well they have raced at this track especially in recent years.
So, it should be no surprise that four of my Top 5 drivers are the betting favorites: Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott and Truex. I’m also throwing Kyle Busch in the Top 5 as a gut feeling more so than anything else.
With that said, I believe the Top 3 drivers will be Hamlin, Harvick and Elliott. Of the three, I am leaning towards Harvick to win on Sunday.
Harvick has the best average finish among active drivers and has really done well over the last handful of years. Since 2016, Harvick has two wins, five Top 5s, and seven Top 10s. He’s finished in the Top 13 for all of them and has led laps in all, but two of those races.
Of my Top 5 drivers, only two of them are even numbered cars: Harvick (4) and Busch (18). With that said, this could be an opportunity to hedge our bets by taking the Odd option as Hamlin, Elliott, Truex, and Kurt Busch all drive odd numbered cars.
Car Number of Race Winner –Odd (+105)
Car Number of Race Winner
Over 10.5 (-159)
Under 10.5 (+120)
For this prop bet, I am going with the Under. Elliott and Harvick both drive cars under 10.5. Although Hamlin, Busch and Truex are over 10.5, the value for the Under is too good to pass up especially since I get two of the top three drivers at this track.
Car Number of Race Winner –Under 10.5 (+120)
Manufacturer of Race Winner
I have three Toyotas in my Top 5: Hamlin, Truex and Busch. Elliott drives a Chevy and Harvick drives a Ford. Once again, this could be another opportunity to hedge our bets. Let’s take the value of Toyota at +150 just in case Hamlin wins.
Manufacturer of Race Winner –Toyota (+150)
Team of Race Winner
Joe Gibbs Racing (+160)
Stewart-Haas Racing (+300)
Team Penske (+350)
Hendrick Motor Sports (+350)
Chip Ganassi Racing (+2000)
Any Other Team (+2000)
Richard Childress racing (+3000)
Roush Fenway Racing (+8000)
JTG Daughtery Racing (+10000)
The three Toyota drivers mentioned above all drive for Joe Gibbs Racing. So, we can certainly go that route for this prop bet as well. Harvick drives for Stewart-Haas and Elliott drives for Hendrick Motor Sports.
Although Hendrick has won this race five times, it’s hard to ignore JGR in this race considering two of their drivers have won this race in 2017 and 2019. I believe this another opportunity to hedge our bets just in case Harvick doesn’t win the race.
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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