The drivers of Nascar are headed to Texas Motor Speedway to run the 21st Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. This is the seventh scheduled event on the circuit and by the looks of it this should be a good one. Already we have seen a few drivers not make it through inspection to even get on the track to qualify. I understand they need to have rules and abide by them but it seems the current system that Nascar uses for inspection certainly puts some teams at a disadvantage. It’s natural to try to get as much out of the car and push the inspection rules to the limit but this is ridiculous as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will all start from the 32nd spot or lower because they couldn’t get through inspection. I am not sure what the quick remedy is but having cars not make it through inspection certainly is not good for the sport. Ok, I am done my rant for this week so let’s get down to the business.
As usual I will look for some of the better plays for this weekend’s race using DraftKings pricing as I take a look at all price points. Texas Motor Speedway is a one and a half mile track that is situated in Fort Worth, Texas. There are a lot of interesting statistics accumulated at this track so without any more deliberation, let’s get to it.
Brad Keselowski – $10,500 – Besides a 27th finish in Daytona the driver of the # 2 Miller Lite Ford has strung together an impressive five top five finishes over the last five races which includes taking home the checkered flag twice in that time frame. Keselowski also runs well at this track as he has turned in six top 10 finishes in his last six starts. He is a little pricey here but by virtue of starting from the fifth position and posting the fastest lap in yesterday’s morning practice he looks to be well worth every penny when the flag drops Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Larson – $10,300 – Thanks to being the leader in the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series, Larson’s price has sky rocketed and with good reason. He had put together a string of four races in which he finished no lower than second which culminated in grabbing a win just two weeks ago in California. Today the driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet will face his toughest test yet as he will start in the 32nd position because he could not get his car through qualifying in time. Larson has always had fast cars but it seems that this season he has been able to maintain the higher speeds while keeping the car in a position to win every week. Rostering Larson here will be an indication that you think he has been able to do that on a weekly basis and will surely need to do that today if you want to rack up any fantasy points. The flip side is that this is the first time he will start lower than 16th and may revert back to his old self of not having enough patience to let things unfold. Only time will tell how this will play out on Sunday. One thing is for sure however and that is that the car is still as fast as a rocket ship as he posted the second fastest lap in the second practice session.
Jimmie Johnson – $9,700 – I find it awfully tough not to roster Johnson at this price as he has won five of the last 10 races here at Texas and has turned in a massive seven top five finishes over those 10 races. An interesting thing happened to the driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet as he had spun out after his qualifying lap, which meant he couldn’t continue in the second round of qualifying. Thus he will start in the 24th position for today’s race and should be able to gain a lot of ground as the race wears on. Johnson has also led 904 laps in those 10 races which makes a lot of sense considering all of the wins he has been able to rack up at this track.Although he starts from the middle of the pack he did run the hottest lap in happy Hour yesterday afternoon.
Kevin Harvick – $10,000 will start the race from the pole while both Kyle Busch-$9,900 and Chase Elliott-$9,500 will start in the 17th row thanks to not getting through inspection in time. Harvick’s eight top 10 finishes over the last 10 races here at Texas Motor Speedway equals Jimmie Johnson’s effort and could be in for a big day when the green flag drops Sunday afternoon. Busch has seven top 10 finishes in his last nine starts here which includes taking two checkered flags in the process.
Dale Earnhardt Jr – $8,500 – Junior’s troubles this season have been well documented as it seems like he may not mentally be over his concussion symptoms. How else can you explain his horrendous start as he sits in 25th place in the standings through six races? His luck got a bit worse as he was one of the handful of cars that couldn’t get through inspection and will start in the 37th position because of it. The driver of the #88 Axalta Chevrolet does have two things going for him though. The first one is the fact that he has notched seven top 10 finishes in his last nine starts at Texas while the second thing is that he was in the top 10 for the fastest lap in both of the last two practices. With 334 laps to be run I would not roster too many drivers that start from the back but because of his salary Earnhardt Jr deserves a look here.
Kasey Kahne – $7,300 – Kahne is yet another driver that will start from the back of the pack and start from the 35th position when the green flag falls on Sunday. The driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet has put together a string of good finishes this season which has him in 12th place in the standings. He also has five top 10 finishes in his last 10 attempts here at Texas which has seen him finish eighth place in three of the last four starts. His only blemish over the last two seasons was his 20th place finish he had in the fall of 2015. Kahne’s price is surely manageable today and rostering him may just allow you to grab some of the big guns who start up front.
Ryan Newman – $7,800, Kurt Busch – $8,000 and Ryan Blaney – $8,100 all deserve a look here as well. Newman has run well so far this season as he is in 11th place in the standings and will start from the ninth position while Blaney’s #21 Wood Brothers Ford will start on the outside pole. This will obviously give him a chance to lead a few laps if he can keep the pedal to the metal.
Aric Almirola – $6,400 – Now’s the time where we have to find a cheap ‘jewel in the rough’ type of driver to allow us a bit of salary relief while not killing our fantasy score. Almirola had the fourth fastest lap in Happy Hour which could mean he is on to something. It could also mean he got a bit lucky. Either way he looks to be a semi-safe pick here as he will start from the 18th spot on Sunday afternoon. He has finished higher than he has started in five of the first six races with the odd one being last week where he started 18th and finished 18th. As an alternative to Almirola you could always roll the dice with veteran Derrike Cope -$4,600 as he will start dead last in Sunday’s race which leaves hardly any room to get you into the minus where fantasy points are concerned.
That will wrap it up for another week, Check back in two weeks when I break down the Food City 500 from Bristol, Tennessee. Until then follow me on twitter @elctrceye and as always, good luck in your contests this weekend.