Bank of America 500
The second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup kicks off this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The speedy 1.5-mile oval will host the Bank of America 500, and the 334-lap event will take place under the lights Saturday night.
Although Charlotte is a 1.5-mile track, the 500-mile distance places added emphasis on the laps led and fastest laps run categories. It is commonplace for one driver to lead more than 100 laps at any 1.5-mile oval, and the bar is set even higher at Charlotte. In four of the last five races here, one driver has led more than 160 laps. During the same stretch, six drivers have led at least 100 laps.
Building DFS NASCAR lineups will be even tougher this weekend because of the salaries of some of the mid-priced drivers. Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, and Kasey Kahne won’t come cheap this weekend, and even drivers like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger aren’t the bargain options they have been in recent weeks.
Qualifying could yield some enticing sleepers, but there is a good chance you will have to decide between putting all your eggs in the basket of one high-priced driver or paying up for a couple of big names and taking a shot in the dark or two on some longshots.
Make sure to check back after practice and qualifying are in the books for final picks and lineup strategies. Qualifying is a little earlier than usual this week and will be held Thursday at 7:20 p.m. ET. You can catch the Bank of America 500 Saturday at 6:45 p.m. ET on NBC.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900)
Truex has won three of the last five races, and he heads to a Charlotte track where he dominated in May. He led 392 of the 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600, and he also led all drivers with 106 fastest laps run, finishing with nearly 200 fantasy points at DraftKings. Truex has three straight top-five finishes at Charlotte, leading the most laps in two of those starts. A season sweep could be on tap.
Kevin Harvick ($10,700)
His 5.3 average finish at Charlotte over the last ten races is by far the best in the series, and Harvick has been even better since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He has finished either first or second in four of his last five starts here, leading at least 100 laps twice during that span.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,000)
The bad news is that Johnson and the No. 48 team continue to derail themselves with pit road penalties. On the plus side, Johnson has been showing some serious muscle in the Chase, leading plenty of laps at Chicagoland and Dover. Johnson finished third at Charlotte in May, ranking second in fastest laps run. For his career, he has seven wins here and ranks first in fastest laps run and second in laps led.
Kurt Busch ($8,700)
If you are looking for a potential contrarian driver to build around, Busch could deliver high-end production for a reduced price. He had four straight finishes of 11th or better at Charlotte, including a fifth-place run last fall and a sixth-place finish in May. He also led more than 100 laps here in the May race in 2015.
Kasey Kahne ($8,500)
Kahne has quietly reeled off seven straight top 15 finishes, and he carries the momentum into what is probably his best track. Kahne is a four-time winner at Charlotte, and he ranks in the top three in both laps led and fastest laps run. There is potential for a breakout performance.
Austin Dillon ($8,200)
He has become a top 10 threat at the 1.5-mile tracks, and Charlotte has always been kind to Dillon. He has a 12.8 average finish in five starts here, and he finished a career-best seventh in the fall race last season. A solid finish seems likely, and Dillon could have some serious upside depending on where he qualifies.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,000)
Stenhouse has been boom or bust at Charlotte, but he does have four top 15s in eight starts, including two straight, and he has gained at least a dozen spots in two of those races. If he qualifies deeper in the field, Stenhouse could deliver a useful score for a great price.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,900)
Charlotte has been one of Allmendinger’s better 1.5-mile tracks, and he has finished 16th or better in three of his last four starts here. He is far from a sure thing, but if he qualifies outside the top 20, he could be worth a roll of the dice in GPPs.
Danica Patrick ($6,200)
She has made minor gains at Charlotte, and Patrick has finished 22nd, 19th, and 21st in her last three starts here. Those results aren’t great by any means, but if she happens to qualify around the 30th spot, she will have some potential. Depending on how qualifying plays out, Patrick could be one of the better sources of cap relief.
Casey Mears ($5,900)
Mears finished 18th at Charlotte last fall, and he has three top 25s in his last five starts here. Equally as important, he has gained at least ten spots twice during the same stretch. His value depends on his starting spot, but if Mears qualifies near the rear of the field, he has a chance to post a solid score while freeing up plenty of cap space.