NASCAR Picks: Tales of the Turtles 400 in Joilet, Illinois 

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The Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series gets down to business this weekend as they run the 17th Annual Tales of the Turtles 400 in Joliet, Illinois. This of course is the first of the three-race Challenger Round that will see the last four drivers in points drop out of the competition for the coveted Championship Cup. This does not mean that the other drivers that are not competing for the Championship will not factor into scoring points for us this weekend.

This year was a bit different as drivers were awarded bonus points for winning stages which they will carry over into each round of the playoffs. No one was better at collecting those extra playoff points as Martin Truex Jr ($10.700). The driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota has led 1,646 laps in the 27 starts he has made this season. Kurt Busch ($10,600) is the only other driver to lead 1,000 laps or more this season as his total fell 297 laps short of Truex’s blistering pace. The driver of the #18 Skittles Sweet Heat Toyota has not only captured the pole for tomorrow’s race, he has also posted the fastest lap in 2 of the three practice rounds run this weekend.

While Truex will start from the 3rd position either make a fine play to anchor your roster with as he has been inserted as the favorite to win the race at 15/4 odds .With the track being a mile and a half it will take the drivers at least 267 laps to crown the winner of the race. This bodes well for the faster cars that will start up front as they will have an opportunity to lead the race and grab us those extra bonus points. Before we get to more analysis, let’s take a look at the points the playoff drives have before tomorrow’s race.

 

1             Martin Truex Jr.        2,053

2             Kyle Larson                2,033

3             Kyle Busch                  2,029

4             Brad Keselowski       2,019

5             Jimmie Johnson       2,017

6             Kevin Harvick            2,015

7             Denny Hamlin           2,013

8             Ricky Stenhouse Jr  2,010

9             Ryan Blaney             2,008

10           Chase Elliott            2,006

11           Ryan Newman         2,005

12           Kurt Busch                2,005

13           Kasey Kahne            2,005

14           Austin Dillon           2,005

15           Matt Kenseth           2,005

16           Jamie McMurray   2,003

As you can see each of the 16 drivers that have qualified for the playoffs are awarded 2,000 points and then Nascar has added their playoff points to that total. By taking a quick peek at the standings we can see that although Truex starts with a decent lead the drivers at the bottom of the list can easily make it to the second round with a few good finishes.

Kyle Larson ($10,400) and Kevin Harvick ($10,100) complete the quartet of drivers that have five digits in their salary over on DraftKings this weekend. Larson is always a threat as his car has been fast all year and has racked up at least 70 fantasy points over the last three races. Harvick has had a couple of bad outings over the last two starts here in Chicago but both drivers will start inside the top six tomorrow afternoon.

Although Brad Keselowski ($9,400) has not cracked the top 10 in the last four races, he has run well here. So much so that the driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford has grabbed six straight top 10 finishes here in Chicago. It also doesn’t hurt that he had taken the checkered flag in two of those races while being one of the fastest cars in practice this weekend. He will start from the 5th position when the green flag drops tomorrow afternoon.

Jamie McMurray ($8,500) seems to be a decent play based on his price only as he will start back in the 19th position when the green flag drops tomorrow afternoon. The driver of the # 1 McDonald’s/Cessna Chevrolet was the last driver to qualify for the playoffs and should be able to at least stay in the upper half of the grid. His last three finishes here have been an 11th, a 16th and a 9th which would be more than okay since he starts from the 19th spot on the grid for the Tales of the Turtles 400.

Ryan Newman ($7,500) is another one of those drivers that can benefit from a few good races as his 2005 points is tied with five other drivers for the 11th spot in the playoff standings. The driver of the Cat D10 Chevrolet has racked up seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts here at Chicagoland. He also has four straight top 10 finishes this season which is a good sign that the crew has the car running well. Newman’s price is certainly manageable as he will start 16th in tomorrow’s race.

Since his third place in the Coke Zero 400 Paul Menard ($6,800) he has finished higher than 20th five times while finishing lower than 20thfour times over the last nine races. That is basically what you will get from the driver of the #27 Moen/Menard’s Chevrolet and that necessarily isn’t a bad thing. He normally qualifies well here and hasn’t finished lower than 22nd in any of his last seven starts at this one and a half mile tri-oval. He will start from the 28th position.

If you need an even cheaper play than Menard then I guess we need to take a look at A.J.Allmendinger ($6,500) as he has sprinkled in three top 10 finishes over the last 10 races. This is slightly better than what Menard has done but has finished in 26th, 34th and 22nd place over the last three races. If we want to take a stroll down Narrative Street we could say that he is due to have a good finish. He starts from the 29th position and should easily be ahead of some of the scrubs from the back of the pack by the end of the race.

Here is a quick breakdown of the drivers that have the most top 10 finishes here at Chicagoland. With a side note of both Chase Elliott ($9,900) and Ryan Blaney ($8,700) finishing in the top 5 in their only starts here last season.

 

DriverRacesTop 10
Ryan Newman107
Clint Bowyer106
Matt Kenseth106
Kyle Busch106
Brad Keselowski86
Denny Hamlin105
Kevin Harvick105
Jimmie Johnson105
Kurt Busch105
Kasey Kahne104
Joey Logano84
Martin Truex Jr103

 

That will about do it for another look into Nascar for another week. As always, follow me on twitter @elctrceye and good luck in your contests this weekend.