This Week's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fantasy Live / Fox: Quick Picks
The Sprint Cup Series visits Chicagoland Speedway this weekend, and while most races at 1.5-mile ovals can be approached with a cookie-cutter strategy, Sunday's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 is no ordinary race.
For one, it is the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, so you can expect the drivers who qualified for the playoffs to step up their performance and really distance themselves from a majority of the non-Chasers.
More importantly, qualifying was rained out, setting the field by owner points. As a result, the Chasers are all bunched together at the front of the field, further increasing their advantage on the rest of the field. Needless to say, I will be leaning heavily on the big names this weekend in all the season-long fantasy NASCAR games.
In the Yahoo game, I am loading up on the top drivers in each tier. I have managed my starts carefully all season for exactly this stretch, and while much of the competition is likely hunting for sleepers, I have plenty of starts at my disposal for all the top options.
In the NASCAR.com game, I am paying up for three drivers who are starting up front with a chance to lead a bunch of laps and challenge for the win. With the field set by points, there aren't any drivers who have an opportunity to post a huge score through place differential. Instead, I will focus my attention on the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
In the FOX game, the inclement weather means that no bonus points will be awarded for place differential, so finishing position becomes the primary concern. With that in mind, I will simply be trying to build the most balanced lineup possible. Fortunately, the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, who have been dominant for much of the year, are surprisingly affordable.
Check out a complete look at all of my season-long fantasy NASCAR lineups, and make sure to check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Kevin Harvick (A)
To say that Harvick has been dependable at 1.5-mile tracks the last couple of years would be a major understatement. In the last 20 races at 1.5-mile ovals, he has 18 top 10s finishes, including three wins and eight second-place finishes. He has a high floor and even higher ceiling at Chicagoland.
Kyle Larson (B)
Larson has been red hot in recent weeks, and I expect the momentum to carry over into the Chase. He has finished in the top 10 in both Cup starts at Chicagoland, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the mix for the win this weekend. I'm playing the hot hand.
Martin Truex Jr. (B)
No driver has shown more muscle at 1.5-mile tracks this year than Truex. He has led the most laps in three of the six races at 1.5-mile ovals, leading more than 700 laps overall. Among the B-List drivers, he has the best chance of going to victory lane Sunday.
Chase Elliott (C)
He has the most upside of any C-List driver, and I have been saving Elliott for this stretch of the season. He will be making his first Cup start at Chicagoland, but he won in his first start at the track in the XFINITY Series. Elliott also has four top 10s in six races at 1.5-mile tracks this year.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Kevin Harvick ($28.00)
He has been a stud at 1.5-mile ovals since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, and in six races this year, he has six top 10s and has led the second-most laps. He has led double-digit laps in both starts at Chicagoland with SHR, and starting fourth, he should be able to score bonus points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories while contending for the win.
Kyle Busch ($28.00)
Busch was already on the short list of top options this weekend, and starting on the pole only boosts his value further. In his two previous starts from the pole here, he has led a combined 211 laps. He also led a race-high 121 laps at Chicagoland last year and had led more than 40 laps in the last three races at the track. He is more than capable of dominating the laps led and fastest laps run categories this weekend.
Martin Truex Jr. ($26.50)
When it comes to leading laps at 1.5-mile ovals this year, Truex has been in a class by himself. His 785 laps led are 524 more than any other driver, and Truex has led more than 140 laps in three of the six races at 1.5-mile tracks. He starts sixth, and his potential to dominate the race and finish as the top scorer is undeniable.
Casey Mears ($9.50)
Mears starts 29th after the field was set by owner points, and based on his results at 1.5-mile ovals this year, he should be able to move forward. He has a 23.5 average finish at 1.5-mile tracks in 2016, and he finished 20th at Chicagoland last year. If he can gain a handful of spots and flirt with the top 20, he will be a steal at this price tag.
Brian Scott ($5.50)
His biggest asset is his cheap price tag, but Scott could chip in a decent score. He starts way back in 34th, but he finished 22nd at Chicagoland last year, and he has finished in the top 30 in four of the six races at 1.5-mile tracks this year. If Scott can sneak into the top 30 again Sunday, he will be well worth his salary.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Kyle Busch ($10,300)
It is a bit of a surprise to see the defending champ priced well below some other big names this weekend. After all, he has four straight top 10s at Chicagoland, and he led the most laps here last season. Busch has two wins at 1.5-mile ovals this year, and starting from the pole; he could add to that win total this weekend.
Denny Hamlin ($10,300)
He is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and Hamlin's win proceeded at the track in 2014. Equally, as important, Hamlin has been one of the hottest drivers in the series in recent weeks, so I'm happy to play the hot hand, especially since he starts third.
Matt Kenseth ($10,000)
Kenseth has been a force to be reckoned with at Chicagoland since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. In three starts, he has compiled a 5.3 average finish, winning the 2013 event. He starts in the top 10 and look for Kenseth to be in the mix for a top-five finish.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,600)
Considering his impressive performances at 1.5-mile tracks this season, Truex is one of the most underpriced options available. He has led the most laps in the six races on 1.5-mile ovals, leading the most laps three times. Truex starts sixth and is one of the frontrunners to challenge for the victory Sunday.
Carl Edwards ($9,500)
Edwards ranks in the top 10 in points scored at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and last year at Chicagoland, he finished second in his first start at the track with Joe Gibbs Racing. Starting in the top five, he is a safe bet to challenge for a top 10, and a top five finish is a real possibility.