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NASCAR returns to normalcy, in a way, transitioning from a road course to the more familiar 1.5-mile layout of Kentucky Speedway. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has only raced there three times, so the notebook's a little thin. Although there have been three different winners in those three races, there are some clear favorites and sleepers. Here we go…
Jimmie Johnson, $28.00: You can't get more expensive than the price that Jimmie Johnson now commands. He's won three of the last five races and contended at Pocono and Sonoma, the two races he didn't win. So, that $28.00 price tag fits. And this weekend, we don't think you'll have any buyer's remorse. Johnson has finished in the top 10 in all three Kentucky races, leads the series in driver rating and led 182 laps last year in a ninth-place finish.
Kyle Busch, $26.00: By the time final practice is over Friday, we may change our tune on this one and go with Kevin Harvick. But as the saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." We've been fooled about eight times now, and may have finally learned our lesson. Harvick's bad luck and pit-road troubles have ruined many a fantasy team. So go Busch in this one. Like Johnson, Busch has scored a top-10 in all three Kentucky races. Unlike Johnson, he's won one. He's also proven he can pile up bonus points with triple-digit laps led figures in two of the three Kentucky races.
Martin Truex Jr., $21.25: If you want to stay away, we understand. Over the last two races, he was able to complete a grand total of nine laps without getting caught up in some kind of incident. There's a black cloud over Truex these days, but maybe this is where it breaks up. He scored top-10s in the last two Kentucky races, tallying fastest laps run in each.
Ryan Newman, $23.75: In the series' inaugural visit to Kentucky, Newman scored a fourth-place finish. Yes, that occurred while Newman drove under the Stewart-Haas Racing banner, but he still warrants consideration. He finished 14th there last year and has run well lately, with top-15 finishes in five of the last six races.
Tony Stewart, $23.25: Kentucky is known for its character, which forces drivers to navigate a rough and bumpy surface. All of that sounds right in Stewart's wheelhouse, but the statistics suggest otherwise. Stewart averages a Kentucky finish of 21.3, and has led only one lap. His last two Kentucky races resulted in a driver rating of just 50.8 and 64.7.
Mike Forde is the senior manager of content communications for NASCAR's Integrated Marketing Communications department. He is also known as "Loop Dogg" for his weekly loop data-based fantasy advice on SiriusXM NASCAR and SiriusXMFantasy.