The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Concord, North Carolina this week for the Coca-Cola 600.
The race Sunday night is a marathon, not a sprint. The 600-mile race is tough on the drives and the engines. Teams will do what they can to survive the first 500 miles before the action heats up at the end. Do not be surprised to see the Coca-Cola 600 come down to fuel mileage strategy.
Selecting your fantasy team should not be difficult this week. Fantasy teams will be able to see the Sprint Showdown, the Sprint All-Star Race, three practice sessions and qualifying. This will be more than enough track time to figure out which drivers have the fast cars and which still need to find some speed.
Here are my picks for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Finding a driver for Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing should be easy this week. There have been five races on intermediate tracks this season and two drivers have won four of the races. Jimmie Johnson won three (Atlanta, Texas and Kansas) and Kevin Harvick won at Las Vegas with second place finishes in the other four races. Johnson and Harvick are by far the best selections this week.
If you want to go against what your competition this week, you should consider Joey Logano or Matt Kenseth. Logano has finished in the top 10 at all five races on the intermediate tracks this season. Kenseth has finished three or the last four races at Charlotte in the top three. Both drivers are excellent choices for the race Sunday night.
My sleeper pick in Group A is Ryan Newman. He has finished four of the five races on the intermediate tracks this season in the top 10. Newman also has the fourth-best average finishing position in the last four races at Charlotte.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
Harvick is the best choice for the Coca-Cola 600. He has finished every race this season on the intermediate tracks in the top two. Harvick has also led 441 laps in these races. He is the best pick to lead many laps Sunday night and find his way to Victory Lane for the third time this season.
Johnson has not dominated the races on the intermediate tracks the way Kevin Harvick has, but he has found his way to Victory Lane more times. Johnson won this race last season and has the third-best average finishing position at Charlotte. He will be looking to add to his seven wins at Charlotte Sunday night.
Other good choices: Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman
Yahoo Group B Picks
Three drivers from Group B have dominated the races on the intermediate tracks this season. Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch should be on every fantasy team this week. The other drivers from this group cannot compare with what these drivers have been able to accomplish this year. Fantasy teams will need to figure out who the last driver is to pair with Truex, Kahne and Busch for the race this week.
A driver with excellent stats at Charlotte is Carl Edwards. He has finished seven of the last eight races at the track in the top 10. Edwards has not been able to find success this season with his new team. He will probably run well Sunday night, but I suggest holding off on Edwards until he proves he can run a complete race.
My sleeper pick for Group B is Aric Almirola. He has not been great this season on the intermediate tracks, but he has consistently finished in the top 15. Do not be surprised to see Almirola finish in the top 15 again Sunday night.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Busch had a fast car in the Sprint All-Star Race and will be fast Sunday night. He has competed in three races this season on intermediate tracks with an eighth-place average finishing position. Busch has led 130 laps this season at similar types of tracks, so he knows how to get to the front. Busch should lead many more laps in the Coca-Cola 600 this week.
Martin Truex Jr.
No driver in Group B has a better average finishing position on the intermediate tracks this season than Truex Jr. He has finished all five races in the top 10 and had the car to beat at Kansas. Truex is still looking for his first win this season and he should get it on a 1.5-mile race track. Truex will be one of the drivers to watch Sunday night.
Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of Kahne’s best tracks. He has four wins and finished 13 of his 22 starts in the top 10. Kahne has run well on the intermediate tracks this season, but he has had a hard time finishing the race up front. That should change this week. Kahne is one of the best conditioned drivers and the 600-mile race suites him well.
The last choice for Group B came down to Carl Edwards, Paul Menard and McMurray. Edwards has good stats at Charlotte, but he is hard to trust this season. Menard has run well on the intermediate tracks, but his stats in the Coca-Cola 600 are not very good. I decided to go with McMurray.
McMurray always excels in the big races, so do not be surprised to see him up front this week. He has two career wins at Charlotte and he finished both races at the track last season in the top five. If you want to save a start with your other drivers, McMurray is a good option for your team this week.
Other Good Choices: Carl Edwards, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola
Yahoo Group C Picks
Group C is finally starting to take shape. After numerous fill-in drivers in the first 11 races, we now know that Kyle Busch will be back in the No. 18 and David Ragan will be the permanent driver of the No. 55 car. It also looks like Brett Moffitt will take over the No. 34 car for the rest of the season.
Ragan’s first race for Michael Waltrip Racing did not go as planned. He finished the race at Kansas No. 33 and will be looking to bounce back at Charlotte. Ragan may struggle until he gets familiar with his new team. Saving him for the second-half of the season would be a smart move.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Elliott will be back in the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy this week. He has competed in two races this season in the Sprint Cup Series. Elliott finished No. 38 at Martinsville and No. 16 at Richmond. He should have more success on the intermediate tracks than he had on the shorts tracks. The only concern with Elliott this week is how he we deal with the 600 mile race. I would not be too concerned with it though since he is a young driver.
Blaney will be driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford this week. The last time he drove the car, Blaney finished fourth at Talladega. Wood Brothers racing has an alliance with Team Penske so the car should be fast. Do not be surprised to see Blaney qualify in the top five for the Coca-Cola 600.
Other Good Choices: David Ragan,Danica Patrick,Justin Allgaier and Brett Moffitt
Fantasy Live Picks
The strategy for Fantasy Live on the intermediate tracks is usually to select drivers who start in the back with an opportunity to move to the front. This strategy will give your team a chance to earn bonus points for finishing differential. That is not the case this week.
Since this race is 600 miles and 400 laps, there will be 200 bonus points available for leading laps. Usually the drivers play follow the leader for most of the race since it is so long. If you are able to select the driver who leads the most laps your team will finish at the top of the standings. That driver should be Kevin Harvick.
The driver to watch in Fantasy Live this week is Kyle Busch. He price was around $25 after the race at Kansas. If his price is still low when Fantasy Live unlocks the drivers for the week, it would be smart to buy him now and hold onto him for the rest of the season.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Charlotte:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $28.75
Driver 2: Kurt Busch $24.00
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $21.00
Driver 4: Martin Truex Jr. $20.25
Driver 5: Matt Dibenetto $6.00
Pick to Win: Kevin Harvick
* Driver prices based on prices at Kansas
Fox Fantasy Racing
Fox Fantasy Racing only awards one point for leading a lap, so it will be more important to select drivers who qualify in the back this week. This strategy will give your team an opportunity to score bonus points for finishing differential. Track position will not be very important this week since drivers will have 400 laps to make their way to the front.
The best drivers this week for the money is Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards. These drivers should perform much better than the drivers in their price range. It would be a good idea to select these drivers regardless of where they qualify.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Charlotte:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $13,500
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $13,200
Driver 3: Kyle Busch $6,200
Driver 4: Kurt Busch $8,900
Driver 5: Carl Edwards $7,900
* Driver prices based on prices at Kansas