There are now 10 races before the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin. Six drivers are currently locked into the playoffs on wins while 10 spots remain up for grabs based on points. This week’s race at Chicagoland Speedway, the Overton’s 400, represents the latest chance for drivers who have not scored a victory yet this season to lock themselves into the playoffs.
RACE PREVIEW FOR OVERTON’S 400
SATURDAY POST-QUALIFYING UPDATE: Paul Menard took the pole during Saturday’s qualifying, and it was his first since July 2008. Menard was 15th in first practice, 24th in final practice, and had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average during final practice. A couple of drivers that start behind him have displayed better practice speeds than Menard, but he has been better throughout pre-race events in comparison to other drivers around his price range. Overall, while he will lose a few points from Place Differential, he will likely finish around the Top 10 based on his 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice.
Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson will all be strong PD options for this week’s race. Harvick starts 13th, was 11th in first practice, sixth in final practice, and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Kyle Busch was 18th in first practice, eighth in final practice and starts 18th. Larson was eighth in first practice, 16th in final practice, had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average, and starts 20th. All three of these drivers have been great on 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season and have practice speeds better than most of the drivers starting ahead of them. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Now that the Cup Series returns to a 1.5 Mile Intermediate track this week, you must have at least one lineup centered on Kevin Harvick ($11,800 on DraftKings, $12,300 on FanDuel). Before the last race at Charlotte, Harvick had an Average Finishing Position of 3.7. Harvick also became the second driver in Cup Series history to have two seasons with eight or more Top 2 finishes in the first 16 races after finishing second in last week’s race at Sonoma. In 17 starts at Chicagoland, Harvick has nine Top 5 finishes, which includes three of his last five starts at the site. Harvick has been one of the best at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks in recent seasons and will compete for the win.
While Harvick has statistically been the best driver on 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season, Kyle Busch ($11,400 on DraftKings, $11,900 on FanDuel) has been his biggest competitor. Busch is the only other driver to win races on 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season (2) and has led the second-most laps at the track type (512). Kyle Busch has finished in the Top 15 in 10 of his 13 starts at Chicagoland including each of his last six. Kyle Busch is one of the favorites this week to win and is one of the more consistent drivers at Chicagoland.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900 on DraftKings, $12,800 on FanDuel) has won the last two Chicagoland races and will make a strong case for a third win at the site. Truex has led the second-most laps (148), had the fourth-best Average Running Position (6.4), the most Fastest Laps (148), and the second-best Driver Rating in the last three Chicagoland races (122.4). Truex has finished fourth or better in five of the last six races this season and is looking comparable to last season in which he won seven races and the Cup Series Championship. Truex is one of the best picks based on recent races at Chicagoland and his momentum from the last few races this season.
Kyle Larson ($10,400 on DraftKings, $11,400 on FanDuel) is a pretty good choice for Chicagoland. In four starts at the site, Larson has three finishes of seventh or better. Larson has finished in the Top 10 in four of five races at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season and he has placed in the Top 10 nine times overall in 2018, which is the most of all Chevrolet drivers. Look for Larson to finish in the Top 10 for the fourth time in his career at Chicagoland.
Chicagoland is statistically Brad Keselowski’s ($10,100 on DraftKings, $11,100 on FanDuel) best track in the Cup Series. He has finished eighth or better in each of his last seven starts at Chicagoland and led laps in six of those appearances. Keselowski is one of two drivers to have ran in the Top 15 during every lap at Chicagoland since 2015. He also has the third-best ARP in the last three races at Chicago (6.2).
Clint Bowyer ($9,700 on DraftKings, $11,200 on FanDuel) has finished in the Top 15 in four of five races at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks in 2018. In 12 starts at Chicago, Bowyer has seven Top 10 finishes. Bowyer has not finished in the Top 10 at the site since 2013, but he is in better equipment compared to the last few years and is in his most competitive form as Stewart-Haas Racing continues to remain at the top of its game every week. Bowyer deserves strong consideration for lineups as he will very likely finish in the Top 10 based on the equipment he is working in this season.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Aric Almirola’s ($8,900 on DraftKings, $8,400 on FanDuel) best finish in six starts at Chicagoland is 10th. Almirola has been incredibly consistent this season, placing in the Top 15 in all but two races. He also has finished in the Top 10 in two of the last three races in 2018. Almirola drives for Stewart-Haas Racing this season, which has won more races than any other team in 2018. Chicagoland never was one of Almirola’s strongest tracks, but with the improved equipment in comparison to prior seasons, Almirola will have a good chance of placing in the Top 10.
Chase Elliott ($8,500 on DraftKings, $10,600 on FanDuel) has finished in the Top 3 in both of his two starts at Chicagoland. He has placed 12th or better in each of the last seven races this season, which includes Top 10 finishes in the last three weeks. Elliott also has finished 12th or better in four of five races at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season. Elliott has good history at Chicagoland and has been competitive for Top 10 finishes for most of the races this year. Expect Elliott to push for a Top 10 finish.
Jamie McMurray ($8,100 on DraftKings, $9,100 on FanDuel) has finished 11th or better in three of his last four starts at Chicagoland. In 15 starts at the site, McMurray has four Top 10 finishes. McMurray’s two best finishes in 2018 (third and sixth) both came at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks and he has the 10th-best AFP at the track type since 2017 (14.1). McMurray is solid at tracks similar to Chicagoland, and his teammate Kyle Larson has been one of the better drivers at the track. McMurray will lean on his teammate for creating a good setup for Chicagoland and compete for a Top 10 finish based on equipment and recent history.
Paul Menard ($7,000 on DraftKings, $8,700 on FanDuel) will be one of the better choices for this week’s race. He has finished in the Top 20 in two of the last three Chicago races with Richard Childress Racing. This season, he races with Wood Brothers Racing, which scored finishes of 11th or better in the last two Chicago events with Ryan Blaney. Two of Menard’s Top 10 finishes this season were at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks and he has placed in the Top 15 in four of the last five races. Menard will vie for a Top 15 finish based on equipment, but he has a chance of placing in the Top 10.
Kasey Kahne ($6,900 on DraftKings, $7,900 on FanDuel) is one of the better bargains for this week’s race. In 14 starts at Chicagoland, Kahne has eight Top 20 finishes. Kahne has finished 21st or better in every race at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season. Based on equipment and recent performances at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks, Kahne will contend for a Top 20 finish.
William Byron ($6,400 on DraftKings, $7,300 on FanDuel) will be making his first Cup Series start at Chicagoland. Byron has two Top 20 finishes at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season. Byron finished 33rd in his only Xfinity Series start at the site. Byron has placed in the Top 20 in nine races this season, and based on the equipment he is in, he will be good for a Top 20 finish.
David Ragan’s ($5,800 on DraftKings, $6,800 on FanDuel) best finish at Chicagoland in 11 starts is eighth. Ragan has four Top 20 finishes in his Cup career at the track. Ragan has placed in the Top 25 in each of the races at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season with his best finish being 13th at Kansas. Ragan will finish in the Top 25 but, there is a possibility of him placing in the Top 20 based on previous performances at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks this season.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR OVERTON’S 300 (DRAFTKINGS ONLY)
There are numerous Cup Series regulars participatingin this week’s Xfinity race. The standout picks from these regulars are Kevin Harvick ($13,200), Kyle Larson ($12,700), Daniel Suarez ($9,100), and Paul Menard ($8,900). Harvick has won three times before at Chicagoland, including his last Xfinity start at the site. He was seventh in first practice, eighth in final practice, and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. He will fight for the win based on practice speeds. Larson placed second in three of his last four starts at Chicagoland. He was ninth in first practice, 12th in final practice, and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. Look for Larson to place in the Top 10 with a chance of finishing in the Top 5. Suarez has three Top 10 finishes in five starts at Chicagoland. Suarez was 10th in first practice, second in final practice, and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. He will compete for a Top 5 finish. Menard placed in the Top 10 in four of his last five starts at Chicagoland. He was 15th in first practice, third in final practice, and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Menard will finish in the Top 5 with a chance of placing in the Top 3 based on practice speeds.
Christopher Bell ($9,800), Tyler Reddick ($8,800), and Daniel Hemric ($8,600) are Xfinity regulars that are good choices to place in your lineup this week. Bell and Reddick are both making their Xfinity debuts at Chicagoland while Hemric is making his second start at the track. Bell was first in both practices and had the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Reddick was third in first practice and 13th in final practice. Hemric was sixth in first practice, 10th in final practice, and had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. All three drivers will finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds with Bell and Hemric have a solid chance of placing in the Top 5.
Matt Tifft ($7,900), Austin Cindric ($7,700), and Kaz Grala ($6,900) are the best bargain values of this week. Cindric and Grala are making their Xfinity debuts at Chicagoland while Tifft finished sixth in his only start at the track last season. Tifft was fifth in both practices and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Watch for him to place in the Top 10 based on practice speeds. Cindric was second in first practice, 16th in final practice, and had the ninth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Cindric will compete for a Top 10 finish. Grala was 19th in first practice and sixth in final practice. Grala will finish in the Top 15, with a chance of placing in the Top 10.