O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stops at Texas Motor Speedway, and what I was hoping would be a predictable trip to a 1.5-mile oval is shaping up to be anything but.
I was expecting the repaved and reconfigured surface to pose a bit of a challenge, but drivers were spinning and bouncing off the wall throughout practice, and NASCAR has decided to try to grind rubber into the track to increase grip before Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500.
In addition to the new track surface, issues with pre-qualifying tech inspection resulted in several big names missing qualifying altogether. Now, the starting lineup features a bunch of big names starting up front and some starting way in the back. When setting your season-long fantasy NASCAR lineups, it is the big names starting in the back that need close attention and create some tough decisions.
In the FOX game, they are absolutely must-own options. Remember, the main source of bonus points is place differential, so the further back a driver starts, the more upside they have. It isn't often that an upper-tier driver starts outside the Top 30, and this weekend, you can fill your entire lineup with them.
For the NASCAR.com game, there are a couple of strategies. You could go all in with the place differential and build a balanced lineup with the drivers that missed qualifying. You could also pair some of the drivers starting at the back with a driver starting up front that has a chance to win the dominator categories. The first option is safer and should yield a solid score, but the second option gives you more upside.
Things are a little more complicated in the Yahoo game. From a scoring standpoint, there is no advantage to picking a driver starting in the back. In fact, it is probably a slight detriment since there is always a chance a driver could get caught up in a wreck while trying to fight up through the field. With that in mind, I am going to shy away from some of the big names starting deep in the field. I'd rather not take the added risk of wasting a start from one of the top options, even if the added risk is minor.
Buckle up for what looks like a wild race at Texas, and check out all my season-long picks and lineups for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Kevin Harvick (A)
You can never really go wrong with using Harvick, and after he stormed to the pole, I think he is the safest option this weekend. The new pavement and layout of Texas have it being compared to Kentucky Speedway, and Harvick led the most laps at Kentucky last year. The speed appears to have translated, and I expect him to contend for the win Sunday.
Ryan Blaney (B)
Blaney has shown a ton of speed all weekend, and while he can be a boom-or-bust option, there is no denying his Top 10 potential at 1.5-mile tracks. Starting on the front row, I think he could be headed for one of his best runs. In a race that is shaping up to be a little unpredictable, it is a perfect time to gamble on Blaney's upside.
Kurt Busch (B)
I was planning to start Chase Elliott, but in this format, his terrible starting spot simply adds some risk without adding any extra reward. I still think Elliott will rally, but I'd rather not take the chance on wasting one of the two-best B-List drivers. Instead, I'll use Kurt Busch, who starts in the Top 10 and has four Top 15s in his last five Texas starts.
Erik Jones (C)
In this scoring system, Jones' poor starting spot doesn't offer any benefit. However, he showed so much speed in practice that I am still confident starting him. Jones also has a win at Texas in the XFINITY Series and finished 12th in his only Cup start here. A Top 10 isn't out of the question.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Kyle Busch ($27.00)
I could only afford one of the high-priced options starting at the back and still build a balanced lineup, and I opted for Busch. It's tough to match his consistency at Texas where he has seven Top 5s in his last eight starts. He was also happy with his car in practice and has been stout at Kentucky Speedway, the track the repaved Texas Motor Speedway has been compared to.
Kasey Kahne ($23.00)
His value in this format depends on his starting spot and is trending way up now that he has to start 35th. Kahne has finished 11th or better in six of his last eight starts at Texas, and he has finished eighth or better in three of his last four. I expect him to flirt with a Top 15 and use the place differential category to finish as a Top 10 scorer.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($20.75)
It hasn't been a banner year for Junior, but he has the place differential category working in his favor. Junior starts 37th after missing qualifying, but he has finished sixth or better in four straight starts at Texas. He just needs to manage a mid-pack finish to post a solid score, and the combination of his safe floor and upside make him worth a roster spot.
Erik Jones ($20.25)
Jones has shown a ton of speed in practice, but he has to start 36th after missing qualifying. He has been a steady Top 15 driver all year, and he finished 12th in his only other Cup start at Texas. Jones should be able to use the place differential category to post a strong score.
Chris Buescher ($9.00)
The one downside of so many big names missing qualifying is that no cheap options are starting at the back. Instead, I'll pay up just a bit for Buescher. He starts 38th, but he has been able to sneak into the Top 25 most weeks. He should gain enough spots to deliver a solid score, and while he isn't a total punt play, the price tag is still very cap friendly.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Kyle Larson ($12,100)
His numbers at Texas have been up and down, but I have no problem taking a chance on him this weekend. Not only is he one of the hottest drivers in the series, but is in perfect position to be one of the top scorers since he has to start 32nd. Look for Larson to gain 20-plus spots and easily eclipse 50 fantasy points.
Kyle Busch ($11,800)
Busch has owned Texas. He is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has seven Top 5s in his last eight starts here. More importantly, he starts 34th after missing qualifying, so Busch has 70-point upside. He has way too much potential to pass up.
Chase Elliott ($11,600)
He has to start 33rd, but Elliott has finished in the Top 5 in both of his Cup starts at Texas and in both of his starts at 1.5-mile tracks in 2017. He can post a big score simply by finishing in the Top 15, and I wouldn't rule out a 60-point performance from Elliott.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($6,200)
Junior has burned me multiple times this year, but you can't hold grudges in fantasy NASCAR. He starts back in 37th, so if he just cracks the Top 20, he is looking at around 40 fantasy points. His ceiling just goes up from there, and his cheap price tag helps me fit the several studs into my lineup.
Erik Jones ($5,500)
Jones is still criminally underpriced for a driver who runs in the Top 15 every week, and he could end up being the steal of the weekend at Texas. He starts 36th, so he has a ton of bonus points available through place differential. Jones finished 12th in his only other Cup start at Texas, and I think he easily exceeds 40 fantasy points Sunday.