NASCAR Playoffs at Kansas picks, odds: Martin Truex Jr. on the pole, Kyle Busch facing elimination

It's win and you're in on Sunday as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs heads to Kansas Speedway for the Round of 12 cutoff race. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski have already clinched their spot in the Round of 8 after winning at Charlotte and Talladega, respectively. 

Former champions Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are below the cutline heading into the race, but both will start inside the top 10 and have won at the track before. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray are also below the cutoff with McMurray pretty much in a must-win situation.

Last week we correctly predicted Brad Keselowski as our race winner at Talladega. That said, here are our picks for this Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.

Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR: Hollywood Casino 400-Qualifying
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (78) poses for photos after winning the pole position during qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

What reason do we have not to pick Truex? He won this race back in May after leading 108 laps and will start on the pole this time around. Just because he has already advanced to the Round of 8 doesn't mean Truex is packing it in. If he becomes the second driver to sweep a track this season (Kyle Larson at Michigan is the other), he will add another five points to his series leading total of 64.

Let's not forget the bonus points that come with stage wins, too. Even if Truex isn't victorious, stage wins mean one extra point for the Round of 8. The No. 78 has set the bar high in stage racing, racking up 19 green-and-white checkered flags this season in addition to his six race wins. At 5-to-2 odds, Truex is the betting favorite for the race as well, according to VegasInsider.com.

Contenders: Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney

NASCAR: Hollywood Casino 400
Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) celebrates after winning the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

All right, we know what you're thinking, this guy has picked the guys starting one, two and three but we have good reason for it. Harvick has two career wins at Kansas which is second only to seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, who qualified 13th. If he were get a third on Sunday, he'd tie Johnson and Jeff Gordon for the wins record at the track.

As it stands, Harvick is fourth in the standings and can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 by earning 41 points. In addition to the two wins, Harvick has seven top fives and 12 top 10s in 23 Kansas starts. He is in fact our championship pick and a checkered flag would definitely help solidify that prediction. 

Only 23 years old, Blaney already has success in the Jayhawk State. Back in May, the No. 21 driver started on the pole and finished the race fourth. This appears to be a track where things really click for Blaney and he'll need to be strong given his shaky seventh-place positioning in the standings. Despite failing post-race inspection and starting from the rear, we're confident he will be able to make it to the front fast.

"We ran really great there at Kansas in the spring race earlier." Blaney said in an interview with CBS Sports. "I think if we can have a day like that again we'll have a good shot at advancing. I think no mistakes and just going to do the best that our team can like I know we can do week in and week out. I hope that we can have a good run but you never know what can happen."

Please feel free to listen to our interview with Ryan Blaney via the Soundcloud player below

Spoiler: Joey Logano

NASCAR: Hollywood Casino 400
Cup Series driver Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to pick Logano in any sense this year with confidence given his major letdown following a championship runner-up campaign in 2016 but why not. Like Harvick, Logano has a chance to tie the wins record on Sunday. In 16 starts at Kansas, Logano owns two wins, six top fives (all coming in his last eight races) and an average finish of 18.9.

Logano will start 18th after an unimpressive qualifying run but there is reason to believe he has momentum. The No. 22 is coming off of a fourth-place finish at Talladega where he led 59 laps before eventually losing out to Keselowski. While a win wouldn't do anything for his championship hopes, it'd be a small consolation prize for an otherwise disappointing season.

Odds to win the 2017 Hollywood Casino 400

Here are the betting odds for Sunday's race per VegasInsider.com

  • Martin Truex Jr. 5/2
  • Kyle Larson 9/2
  • Kevin Harvick 11/2
  • Kyle Busch 4/1
  • Brad Keselowski 10/1
  • Chase Elliott 12/1
  • Matt Kenseth 12/1
  • Jimmie Johnson 14/1
  • Denny Hamlin 16/1
  • Ryan Blaney 18/1
  • Erik Jones 28/1
  • Joey Logano 28/1
  • Clint Bowyer 50/1
  • Kurt Busch 50/1
  • Daniel Suarez 66/1
  • Jamie McMurray 66/1
  • Austin Dillon 90/1
  • Kasey Kahne 100/1
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 100/1
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 120/1
  • Ryan Newman 200/1
  • Trevor Bayne 500/1
  • Paul Menard 500/1
  • AJ Allmendinger 1000/1
  • Ty Dillon 1000/1
  • Chris Buescher 1000/1
  • Danica Patrick 1000/1
  • Michael McDowell 1000/1
  • Aric Almirola 1000/1

Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway starting lineup

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Daniel Suarez
  6. Erik Jones
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Jamie McMurray
  9. Clint Bowyer
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Austin Dillon
  12. Jimmie Johnson
  13. Kyle Larson
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Kurt Busch
  16. Michael McDowell
  17. Joey Logano
  18. Ryan Newman
  19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  20. Chris Buescher
  21. Kasey Kahne
  22. Danica Patrick
  23. Paul Menard
  24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  25. Aric Almirola
  26. AJ Allmendinger
  27. David Ragan
  28. Trevor Bayne
  29. Ty Dillon
  30. Matt DiBenedetto
  31. Landon Cassill
  32. Brett Moffitt
  33. Gray Gaulding
  34. Corey LaJoie
  35. Cole Whitt
  36. BJ McLeod
  37. Reed Sorenson
  38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  39. Derrike Cope
  40. Ryan Blaney (failed inspection, originally qualified third)

BOLD -- indicates NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 driver

How to watch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400

Location: Kansas Speedway
Date: Sunday, October 22
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Length: 267 laps/400.5 miles
Stage 1: Ends on lap 80
Stage 2: Ends on lap 160
Final stage: Scheduled for lap 267
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports App

Round of 12 drivers who have won at Kansas:

  • Jimmie Johnson (3 wins)
  • Kevin Harvick (2 wins)
  • Matt Kenseth (2 wins)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (1 win)
  • Kyle Busch (1 win)
  • Denny Hamlin (1 win)
  • Brad Keselowski (1 win)

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 standings

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR #

POINTS

BEHIND

WINS

1.

Martin Truex Jr. (advanced)

78

3120

LEADER

6

2.

Brad Keselowski (advanced)

2

3101

-19

3

3.

Kyle Larson

42

3096

-24

4

4.

Kevin Harvick

4

3089

-31

1

5.

Denny Hamlin

11

3088

-32

2

6.

Chase Elliott

24

3087

-33

0

7.

Ryan Blaney

21

3076

-44

1

8.

Jimmie Johnson

48

3074

-46

3

9.

Kyle Busch

18

3067

-53

4

10.

Matt Kenseth

20

3066

-54

0

11.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17

3052

-68

2

12.

Jamie McMurray

1

3045

-75

0

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