The penultimate race of the Round of 8 is here with the Hollywood Casino 400, and a surprise victory is highly unlikely as this is a tough place for someone outside of the big programs to win.
Part of the reason we're fading the underdogs is the track, but there's also the fact that these tracks are tailor-made for Kyle Larson — who's looking for his third straight victory.
Get the NASCAR betting low-down for the middle Round of 8 race with Covers Experts' Auto Racing Advisor preview and picks for the 2021 Hollywood Casino 400, which gets underway at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 24.
Hollywood Casino 400 favorites
Kyle Larson (+240)
He won on a similar Las Vegas track back in March, led a lot of laps here in May, and should have won to go along with being at his best on 550 tracks this season. I can see Larson going 2-for-2 in the Round of 8.
Denny Hamlin (+550)
He’s feast or famine in Kansas, with two wins in his last four tries — and then he was 15th in this race last year and 12th at this track back in May.
Kyle Busch (+600)
Worth a play here. He won back in May and has four Top-5 finishes in his last six Kansas starts.
Hollywood Casino 400 long-shot picks
Christopher Bell (+3,000)
He scored his first Xfinity race win in this very race weekend a few years ago. More recently, he was third last weekend and has scored three straight Top-8 finishes — and four in the last six weeks.
Alex Bowman (+3,000)
He has been really good at Kansas. Bowman was seventh when he filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. several seasons ago and since then, he also has five Top-11 results on the 1.5-mile track in his last six tries — including being runner-up in the spring race in 2019 and eighth and fourth, respectively, last year.
Matt DiBenedetto (+6,000)
He was 12th on this track last Fall and fourth in the spring race this year. He also had a pair of runner-up finishes in a similar track at Las Vegas last year too.
Hollywood Casino 400 fades
Ryan Blaney (+1,000)
Four of his last five Kansas starts saw him finish 21st or worse.
Joey Logano (+1,600)
He won this race last year... but was 15th, 17th, 35th, and 17th in his other four starts since 2019. In fact, he has seven finishes of 17th or worse in his last 11 Kansas starts overall. On the season, Logano has six finishes of 17th or worse on 550 tracks against just one win this year — and it was on a dirt track that came 26 races.
Logano has only led 84 laps over the last 19 races overall and has six Top-5 results in his last 24 starts.
Kurt Busch (+4,500)
He has just one Top 5 in his last seven Kansas starts, including being 15th in the spring race and 36th in this race last year.
Hollywood Casino 400 matchup pick
Kevin Harvick (-120) vs Tyler Reddick (+100)
No brainer here. Yes, Harvick finished as the runner-up back in the spring race but that, and Bristol, are his only two finishes better than fourth all season.
Reddick was runner-up just two weeks ago, had a Top-3 caliber car last week, and is coming to a track he’s been really good on. And you're getting him at plus money.
PREDICTION: Reddick (+100)
Hollywood Casino 400 preview
Let's just look at the recent history of winners: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Chase Elliott. These nine drivers have combined to win every Kansas race since 2011.
I can make a case that Kyle Larson will add his name to this list. Yes, there's less motivation for him as he already knows he’ll be in the championship in two weeks at Phoenix... but no one is touching Larson on 550 tracks this year.
In 11 races on 550 tracks this year, Larson has four wins, three runner-ups, eight Top 5s, and a Top 10 in all but two. He’s led 1,607 out of 3,247 possible laps (50 percent) in these 11 races, which also accounts for 71 percent (1,607/2,267) of his total laps led this season, plus he’s won 11 stages and has been in the Top 2 in 14 of the 23 stages run on these tracks.
After Larson, the other focus is on the other seven playoff drivers, although for whatever reason, the playoff race at Kansas has always been a wild one in the sense of wrecks or pit road troubles for the playoff drivers — it’s just one that has had a lot of chaos.
It's also worth noting that this will also serve as the final race of the 550 package, as we revert back to the 750 package for the final two weeks of the season.
Hollywood Casino 400 key stat
We’ve seen 13 different winners in the last 19 races on intermediate (1.5-mile) tracks.
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