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Fantasy NASCAR DFS: Auto Club 400 Post-Qualifying

Following the qualifying round at the Auto Club Speedway, Fantasy NASCAR Expert Brian Polking points out who to target on DraftKings for the Auto Club 400!

Auto Club 400

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It was an eventful afternoon at Auto Club Speedway, but when qualifying finished up, it was Kyle Larson that came out on top. With a lap of 187.047 mph in the final round, he grabbed the pole for Sunday's Auto Club 400.

He will be joined on the front row by Denny Hamlin, who led an impressive showing from Joe Gibbs Racing. Brad Keselowski will start third, and Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman completed the Top 5. Pay close attention to these five drivers because over the last five years, seven of the 11 drivers who have led 38-plus laps at Auto Club have started fifth or better.

The other storyline that developed in qualifying didn't even happen on the track. Several teams struggled to make it through pre-qualifying tech inspection, and many drivers never even had a chance to attempt a qualifying run. Big names Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson were among the drivers who didn't make a qualifying run, so there are suddenly a ton of points to be had in the place differential category.

After how qualifying played out, I think the winning lineup is going to require a combination of drivers starting up at the front and a couple starting way in the back with a few cheap sleepers sprinkled in.

Let's take a closer look at all the top DFS NASCAR plays for Sunday's Auto Club 400 now that the starting lineup is officially set.

Must-Own Drivers

Joey Logano ($10,300)

He was one of several drivers who had issues in tech inspection, and as a result, Logano will have to start 35th. Over the last three seasons, he has eight Top 10s in nine starts at 2.0-mile tracks, and he has led the second-most laps in that span. Needless to say, he has enormous upside through place differential, and you need close to 100 percent exposure in cash games.

Jimmie Johnson ($9,800)

A wreck in practice forced him to a backup car, and Johnson opted to forgo qualifying as a result. He will now start 37th, and his potential in the place differential category makes him a must-own driver, especially in cash games. Johnson has a series-leading 6.5 average finish at Auto Club, and his six wins and 980 laps led are also tops in the series. He should storm to toward the front Sunday.

Kyle Larson ($9,100)

There is no slowing down Larson right now. After three straight second-place finishes, Larson will start on the pole. He has finished as high as second at Auto Club, and he won at Michigan last August. Larson has been fast all year, and he is in a great position to go to victory lane and score a bunch of points in the dominator categories in the process. He should be popular enough to use in both cash games and GPPs.

Value Plays

Denny Hamlin ($8,500)

Joe Gibbs Racing looks to have a ton of speed this weekend, and Hamlin led the way in qualifying. He starts on the front row, and drivers who start up front have a history of leading a lot of laps at Auto Club. Hamlin is in a position to be one of the top scorers in the dominator categories, and at the very least, he should be able to lead a few laps. He offers a lot of potential for a midrange price.

Ryan Blaney ($8,300)

He can be a boom-or-bust fantasy play, but after qualifying 19th, Blaney has place differential working in his favor. When he is dialed in, he is capable of running in the Top 10, if not the Top 5. He has a high ceiling for a mid-priced driver, and I will definitely have some exposure to him in tournaments this weekend.

Trevor Bayne ($7,200)

Bayne was another victim on pre-qualifying inspection, and he will have to start 36th this weekend. He finished 20th at Auto Club last year, and he has finished inside the Top 20 in every race this season. He is in prime position to exploit the place differential category, and another mid-pack finish Sunday will make him a great value at this price.

Aric Almirola ($6,500)

He has been making the most of the place differential category all year, and Almirola should be able to do the same at Auto Club after qualifying 31st. Almirola has gained an average of 9.8 positions per race this season, and he has gained 11-plus spots in each of the last two races. He has a safe floor this weekend and is a great source of cap relief in all formats.

Ty Dillon ($6,300)

Dillon has been a staple of winning DraftKings lineups this season in large part because of a cheap price tag and his ability to finish in or around the Top 20. Looking at the more affordable options, Dillon is once again one of the few drivers in his price range with a legit shot at finishing in the top half of the field. Starting 21st, he even has a little upside through place differential.

Sleeper Special

Matt DiBenedetto ($5,500)

If you want to stack the big names starting in the back, DiBenedetto could help you save the cap space. He starts back in 38th, but he has cracked the Top 30 in every race this season. He should pad his final score through the place differential category, and DiBenedetto offers a relatively safe floor for close to the minimum salary.

2017 Auto Club 400 Starting Lineup

Pos.

No.

Driver

Sponsor

Make

1

42

Kyle Larson

Target

Chevrolet

2

11

Denny Hamlin

Sport Clips

Toyota

3

2

Brad Keselowski

Wurth

Ford

4

78

Martin Truex Jr.

Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats

Toyota

5

31

Ryan Newman

Caterpillar

Chevrolet

6

20

Matt Kenseth

Peak

Toyota

7

4

Kevin Harvick

Busch Beer

Ford

8

1

Jamie McMurray

McDonald's

Chevrolet

9

18

Kyle Busch

Interstate Batteries

Toyota

10

19

Daniel Suarez

Subway

Toyota

11

3

Austin Dillon

American Ethanol

Chevrolet

12

5

Kasey Kahne

Farmers Insurance

Chevrolet

13

24

Chase Elliott

NAPA Auto Parts

Chevrolet

14

77

Erik Jones

Toyota Service Centers

Toyota

15

41

Kurt Busch

Haas Automation/Monster Energy

Ford

16

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Fastenal 50th Anniversary

Ford

17

14

Clint Bowyer

Rush Truck Centers

Ford

18

88

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Axalta

Chevrolet

19

21

Ryan Blaney

Motorcraft/Quick Lane

Ford

20

37

Chris Buescher

Bush's Beans

Chevrolet

21

13

Ty Dillon

Twisted Tea

Chevrolet

22

10

Danica Patrick

Aspen Dental

Ford

23

27

Paul Menard

Jack Links/Menards

Chevrolet

24

47

AJ Allmendinger

Kroger Click List

Chevrolet

25

95

Michael McDowell

LFR Woodie

Chevrolet

26

34

Landon Cassill

Love's Travel Stops

Ford

27

38

David Ragan

Camping World/Good Sam

Ford

28

72

Cole Whitt

Southern California Chevy Dealers

Chevrolet

29

15

Reed Sorenson

VIPRacingExperience.com

Toyota

30

83

Corey LaJoie

Bubba Burger

Toyota

31

43

Aric Almirola

Smithfield

Ford

32

33

Jeffrey Earnhardt

K1 Speed

Chevrolet

33

55

Derrike Cope

Premium Motorsports

Chevrolet

34

51

Timmy Hill

Bubba Burger

Chevrolet

35

22

Joey Logano

AAA Southern California

Ford

36

6

Trevor Bayne

AdvoCare

Ford

37

48

Jimmie Johnson

Lowe's

Chevrolet

38

32

Matt DiBenedetto

Can-Am/Kappa

Ford

39

23

Gray Gaulding

SunFrog.com

Toyota


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