Go Bowling 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
Coming off what is often one of the tougher races of the year for fantasy owners, Saturday night's Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway is a chance to get your fantasy NASCAR seasons back on track. If you happened to have a strong showing at Talladega, this weekend's race should be a great opportunity to build on the momentum.
Races at 1.5-mile ovals like Kansas tend to be the among the most predictable, so I won't be shy about using big names in the Yahoo game. The top drivers from the top teams tend to excel at the 1.5-mile tracks anyway, and the fact that the volatility at these tracks tend to be lower than at short tracks, restrictor-plate tracks and road courses makes using the top options in each tier an easy decision.
For the NASCAR.com and FOX games, a wrinkle was added when 12 cars failed to log qualifying laps because of issues with pre-qualifying inspection. Several quality drivers, including some big names, were among those who didn't take the track. There are now an unusually high amount of points available through place differential, and these points can't be ignored.
In the FOX game, I'm going all in with the drivers who missed qualifying. It's rare that you find a driver with legitimate Top 10 potential starting outside the Top 25, but this weekend, there are five of them. I'm happy to roster them all and take a shot at posting a massive point total after place differential points are handed out.
I won't chase the place differential points quite as much in the NASCAR.com game. For one, the scoring format also includes laps led and fastest laps run, so there are a plenty of points available in these categories. Meanwhile, stage points are also a part of the scoring, so a driver that starts up front can somewhat offset the lack of potential through place differential by finishing in the Top 10 at the end of the first two stages. In this scoring format, a balanced approach with an eye on all the scoring categories is the way to go.
Check out a complete look at all of my season-long fantasy NASCAR driver picks and lineup advice, and make sure to get your rosters locked in for the Go Bowling 400.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Joey Logano (A)
There are always a lot of quality A-List plays, but I feel Logano offers the best combination of reliability and upside. Since 2014, Logano leads all drivers with five Top 5s at Kansas, and he also has a pair of wins during that span. He starts on the front row this weekend, so I see no reason he doesn't add another Top 5 at the track, if not a win.
Ryan Blaney (B)
Blaney has three straight Top 15s at Kansas, including a Top 5 run last May. After winning the pole for Saturday's race, another Top 5 isn't out of the question. When he started on the front row at Texas earlier this year, he led a race-high 148 laps and was a contender for the win. Kansas has a similar 1.5-mile layout to Texas, so I love Blaney's upside.
Austin Dillon (B)
It has been a rollercoaster start to the season for Dillon, but he has shown a lot of upside at Kansas in the past. He has three Top 10s in his last five starts here, including a pair of sixth-place finishes last year. After qualifying 11th, I like his chances of delivering another Top 10 run Saturday.
Daniel Suarez (C)
Erik Jones always has the highest ceiling of the C-List options, but he's starting back in 32nd with a car that was repaired after practice, and I'd rather save him for a race when things have gone a little smoother. Meanwhile, Suarez has finished 21st, 20th, and 19th in three starts at 1.5-mile tracks this year, so I'm pretty sure he can at least provide a mid-pack finish.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Kevin Harvick ($27.50)
Harvick has been a fantasy stud at 1.5-mile tracks, especially Kansas. He finished second and first in two starts at Kansas last year, and since 2014, he has led the most laps of any driver at the track. During the stretch, he has led 50-plus laps in four of the six races. He has also led the most laps of any driver at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and he brought the same car this weekend that dominated the Atlanta race. I expect Harvick to pile up stage points and points in the dominator categories on his way to being one of the top scorers.
Martin Truex Jr. ($27.50)
While it's tempting to go with some of the mid-priced options starting in the back of the back, Truex has huge upside in the dominator categories and a great chance to earn a lot of stage points. He starts third Saturday, and he led a race-high 172 laps at Kansas last fall. He has also led a combined 199 laps at 1.5-mile tracks this year, winning at Las Vegas and finishing in the Top 10 in all three events.
Jimmie Johnson ($26.75)
Johnson offers the best of all worlds in this scoring system. The three-time Kansas winner showed excellent speed in practice, so he is a threat to earn some points in the dominator categories. He also starts back in 29th after not making a qualifying run, so he has a ton of upside through place differential. His high floor and even higher ceiling make him a must-own driver.
Michael McDowell ($9.75)
His salary is certainly a selling point, but McDowell has some decent upside thanks to the place differential category. He starts 35th, but he has a 23.3 average finish in three races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and he finished 22nd at Kansas last fall. McDowell should be able to gain around ten spots Saturday.
Landon Cassill ($7.50)
Cassill is mainly a source of cap relief, but that being said, he should be able to post a modest point total. He starts 36th, but he has cracked the Top 30 in all three races at 1.5-mile tracks in 2017, and he has a 26.0 average finish in those races. Cassill should add on a few bonus points to his final score through place differential.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Jimmie Johnson ($12,900)
Of all the drivers starting in the back after the qualifying fiasco, Johnson is an absolute must-own option. He is a three-time winner at Kansas, and his 8.9 average finish at the track is tops in the series. From the 29th starting spot, Johnson has a legitimate shot at topping 60 fantasy points after place differential is factored in.
Kasey Kahne ($10,200)
He has been a consistent Top 15 option at the 1.5-mile tracks dating back to last season, and Kahne owns the fourth-best average finish over the past 10 races at Kansas. Starting 31st after missing qualifying, Kahne can finish with around 40 points by challenging for another Top 15 this weekend.
Clint Bowyer ($9,500)
Bowyer wasn't able to take the track for qualifying, but I'll gladly benefit from his 30th starting spot. He has a 10.7 average finish at 1.5-mile tracks this season, and another Top 10 run Sunday would result in around 50 fantasy points. He has a safe floor and tons of potential through place differential.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($5,500)
I've been burned by Junior multiple times this year, but I just can't pass on him now that he is starting 33rd. He showed Top 10 speed in both practices before failing qualifying inspection, so I expect him to be able to move forward Saturday. I think 40-plus points is a real possibility, and 30 points are his floor.
Erik Jones ($5,300)
A practice crash caused him to miss qualifying, but Jones now has tons of upside in the place differential category from the 32nd starting spot. He showed borderline Top 10 speed in practice before the wreck, and he has finished in the Top 15 in two of his three starts at 1.5-mile tracks this year. At the very least, he should crack the Top 20 and eclipsed 30 fantasy points.