The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Fort Worth, Texas this week for the Duck Commander 500.
People say everything is bigger in Texas. What makes Texas Motor Speedway unique is the world’s largest high-definition LED video board (Big Hoss) position in the middle of the backstretch. It is hard to imagine a television that big would not be a distraction for drivers during a night race.
The race Saturday night will be the third race this season on an intermediate track. Texas is similar in size and shape to Atlanta, but the big difference is the racing surface. Atlanta is a worn out surface that will eat up a driver’s tires. Texas is not to that point yet, so searching for a grove will not be as important. The results from Atlanta can still be used for selecting your drivers this week.
The season has reached the point where fantasy teams should focus on the drivers who have had success in the first six races of the season, instead of selecting their team from last year’s stats. NASCAR teams have shown what they have for the 2015 season. If a driver was not fast in the first six races, there is little chance he will find speed Saturday night.
Here are my picks for the Duck 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Yahoo Group A Picks
There will be plenty of good options in Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing this week. The drivers from this group have won eight of the last 10 races at Texas and all six races this season.
The drivers from Hendrick Motorsports will be popular picks this week. Jimmie Johnson has won three of the last six races at Texas. Jeff Gordon finished second in this race last spring and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth here in November. If you are considering a Hendrick Motorsports driver, Johnson is your best bet to go to Victory Lane.
Joe Gibbs Racing has been lacking speed this season on the intermediate race tracks. The team only has three top-10 finishes on the three intermediate track races this season. Two of their top-10 finishes came from Matt Kenseth. He would be the driver to select from Joe Gibbs Racing Saturday night.
My sleeper pick in Group A this week is Ryan Newman. He finished 10th at Atlanta, third at Las Vegas and fifth at Fontana. He is a risky pick because it is unknown how the team will perform after NASCAR penalized the team for manipulating their tires.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
Harvick is too good right now to keep of your team. His streak of top-two finishes came to an end at Martinsville, but he is primed to start a new streak at Texas. Harvick won the race at Las Vegas and finished second in the races at Atlanta and Fontana. I would not worry about conserving starts with Harvick. Rarely is a driver this hot.
The last spot for Group A was a decision between Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Logano won this race last season and has performed well at the intermediate tracks this season. I chose Keselowski because he has been the best driver the last two races. Keselowski won at Fontana and finished second at Martinsville. I am playing the hot hand with Keselowski Saturday night.
Other good choices: Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson,Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon
Yahoo Group B Picks
Finding a good driver from Group B will not be as difficult as it was the first three trips to the intermediate tracks. The gap between the good and the bad in this group is starting to become apparent to race fans that have been paying attention this season.
The most popular pick this week will most likely be Carl Edwards. He has three wins at Texas, but his last was in 2008. I decided to go in a different direction because Edwards has not gelled with his new team yet. The No. 19 team still has not finished in the top 10 this season.
My sleeper pick for Group B is AJ Allmendinger. The No. 47 team had bad luck the last two races, but I still think Allmendinger is a good pick this week. He finished sixth at Atlanta and seventh at Las Vegas. Allmendinger’s two week slump should come to an end at Texas.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group B.
After an early season suspension, Busch has come into the 2015 season running as well as he has since his early days at Roush Fenway Racing. The only thing that could stop Busch was his power steering failure at Martinsville. He was still able to power the car to a 14th place finish.
Busch has not been great at Texas in his career. His average finishing position is 15.96. This selection has more to do with Busch as a driver this season. In his three races in 2015 Busch has two top-five finishes and an unlucky top-15 finish. He will be one of the drivers competing for the win at the end of the race Saturday night.
Martin Truex Jr.
One of the biggest stories of this year is the reemergence of Truex. He is one of only three drivers (Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano) who have finished all six races in the top 10. On the intermediate tracks this year, Truex finished sixth at Atlanta, second at Las Vegas and eighth at Fontana. Truex cannot keep this pace up all season. Use your starts with him before he cools off.
Most people do not consider Kahne the leader in the Hendrick Motorsports garage, but he has the best average finishing position amongst the four drivers. Kahne has not run up front this season, but he does do a good job at keeping his car near the top 10. Kahne is a great insurance policy for your team this week and he might get you some qualifying points as well.
It is about time fantasy players start to take Menard seriously. He is no longer a driver who consistently finishes outside the top 15. Menard has finished four of the five (not including Daytona) inside the top 15. Menard always runs well in the first half of the season. He is a safe pick for your team this week.
Other Good Choices: Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle
Yahoo Group C Picks
Selecting a driver from Group C has been incredibly difficult in the past. This season it has been rather easy. David Ragan and Ragan Smith have substituted nicely for their teams and provided fantasy teams another option. Danica Patrick is starting to take the next step in her NASCAR career as she is turning top-25 finishes into top-20 finishes. Justin Allgaier and Brett Moffitt have also had moments of success this season.
The popular picks this week will be David Ragan and Danica Patrick. Ragan is starting to look comfortable with the No. 18 team and finishing races the way a Joe Gibbs Racing driver should. Patrick will be a risky pick this week. Her best finish at Texas was her 24th place finish in her first race at the track. There are better races to use Patrick on your team.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
The car with the best stats at Texas is the No. 18. Too bad those stats are with Kyle Busch in the driver’s seat. With the help of the No. 18 team, Ragan should be able to finish in the top 20. He finished 18th at Atlanta and 18th at Fontana. Ragan is the best selection for Group C this week.
Blaney will be making his third start in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. He struggled at Daytona (finished 39th) but had a good run at Las Vegas. The alliance between the Wood Brothers and Team Penske should pay off this week for the young driver. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are two good resources for Blaney to help him finish in the top 20. This would be a good time to try and sneak a start out of Blaney and save your other drivers for another week.
Other Good Choices: Danica Patrick, Brett Moffitt and Justin Allgaier
Fantasy Live Picks
There are many ways to put together a good team for Fantasy Live. Since there are many drivers who are underpriced, it will be important to get some of these drivers on your team. It will also be important to grab some of the higher-priced drivers to finish up front.
The best strategy I have seen this year is to take one higher-priced driver (Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Matt Kenseth), three middle-priced drivers (Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart) and one cheap driver (Brett Moffitt, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher or Cole Whitt) to fill out your team.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Texas:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $28.75
Driver 2: Kurt Busch $23.50
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $21.50
Driver 4: Martin Truex Jr. $19.75
Driver 5: Chris Buescher $6.00
Pick to Win: Kevin Harvick
* Driver prices based on prices at Martinsville
Fox Fantasy Racing
I have been trying to figure out the new scoring format and the new setup for Fox Fantasy Racing this season. After the race at Martinsville I think I finally figured out the trick.
The first five races of the season I selected drivers who started in the back so I could score bonus points for finishing differential. Why this is still important, it is not necessary. At Martinsville I selected a team filled with drivers who started up front and had my highest score of the season.
My philosophy for this game is to select the best drivers in the race regardless of where they start. If you earn some bonus points on the way to Victory Lane, that is great.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Texas:
Driver 1: Joey Logano $12,800
Driver 2: Brad Keselowski $11,700
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $8,800
Driver 4: Kurt Busch $8,800
Driver 5: Tony Stewart $7,200
* Driver prices based on prices at Martinsville