NASCAR Picks for Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway
After a wild, rain-delayed, rain-shortened race at Daytona that saw several big names crash out and ended with Justin Haley celebrating in victory lane for the No. 77 Spire Motorsports team in just his third Cup start, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's Quaker State 400. The bad news is that the chaos at Daytona probably didn't do many favors for Fantasy NASCAR owners, but on the plus side, a trip to a mile-and-a-half track like Kentucky should be a decent opportunity to rebound.
There has been a lot of pushback over Haley's wins, mainly because Spire Motorsports had been non-competitive the entire year prior to Daytona. In fact, the No. 77 car was lucky to crack the Top 30 most weeks. Many fans are saying that an organization like Spire Motorsports shouldn't be allowed in the sport, suggesting the team is just in NASCAR as a cash grab and has no interest in trying to run well on a weekly basis. However, I think the hate directed at Spire Motorsports is misplaced.
No, this was not an ideal situation. It was a complete fluke that required a perfect storm of circumstances to even come about. From the massive wreck that triggered the lengthy caution to NASCAR calling one-to-go only to have a lightning strike hit and bring out a red flag, the end result was Haley going from 27th to victory lane without ever running another green flag lap.
Even if the only goal of Spire Motorsports is to make money, who cares? Most sports franchises want to make money, but that's beside the point. This win was not a product of some loophole in the system that Spire is exploiting. The win was a product of the ridiculous nature of superspeedway racing.
Fans love seeing the cars bunched into a big pack and the big wrecks that can result, but this type of racing puts luck and survival ahead of skill and speed, and on occasion, it allows for teams that have no business winning races to do exactly that. As usual, some NASCAR fans want to have their cake and eat it to.
Personally, I am not a fan of superspeedway racing, and I loved seeing Haley emerge as the winner because I knew the same people that laud over this type of racing would be up in arms that a glorified start-and-park operation picked up the win. How anyone can claim that racing at Daytona and Talladega isn't more about luck more than anything else after what happened last Sunday, is beyond me.
The good news, at least from a fantasy standpoint, is that the top drivers and top equipment should once again rise to the top this weekend at Kentucky. If you are among the fantasy owners who had a rough weekend at Daytona, you should be able to load up your lineups for Saturday night's race and post some hefty point totals.
Kyle Busch, #18 M&M's, Joe Gibbs Racing
Martin Truex, Jr., #19 Bass Pro Shops, Joe Gibbs Racing
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite/Discount Tires, Team Penske
Kevin Harvick, #4 Jimmy Johns/Busch Beer, Stewart-Haas Racing
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske
Alex Bowman, #88 Nationwide Insurance, Hendrick Motorsports
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing
Chase Elliott, #9 NAPA Auto Parts, Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson, #42 CreditOne, Chip Ganassi Racing
Erik Jones, #20 DeWalt, Joe Gibbs Racing
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Ally Financial, Hendrick Motorsports
Ryan Blaney, #12 Menards/PPG, Team Penske
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