This week, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Intermediate track in the Lone Star State, Texas Motor Speedway. Texas is a 1.5-mile-long track with similar characteristics to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Tire management will be very important at this site and we could see some cut tires that lead to wrecks.
TMS was repaved after the most recent Cup race at the site. That makes it difficult to rely largely on past loop data statistics, since track conditions are different compared to previous races. When track conditions are not consistent, you cannot expect the race to feature mostly similar results based on loop data trends. Final practice results can weigh in heavily this time along with past results and recent seasonal performances. But this race could turn out to be less predictable than some others.
TOP PRICED PICKS
Brad Keselowski ($10,500) became the first repeat winner this season last week at Martinsville. At TMS, Keselowski has six Top 10 finishes, an Average Finishing Position of 16.2, which is 12th of active drivers, and 585 Laps Led, which is fourth-best in 17 starts.
In his last two seasons at TMS, Keselowski has 1,016 Laps in the Top 15, which is fourth-most, 26.2% of Laps Led, which is the best in the series, an Average Running Position of 8.8, which is seventh-best, and a Driver Rating of 107.4, which is fifth-best. Keselowski will be starting fifth and was ninth fastest in final practice. Keselowski is one of the best performing drivers this season with five Top 5 finishes in the last five races. Keselowski is the most expensive driver, but his recent momentum this season makes him a fantastic pick to consider.
Kyle Larson ($10,300) is the current points leader despite a finish of 17th at Martinsville. At TMS, Larson has two Top 10 finishes, and an AFP of 18th, which is 16th of active drivers, in seven starts. In his last four starts at the site, Larson has an ARP of 13.3, which is 13th, 833 Laps in the Top 15, which is 12th, and a DR of 83.9, which is 14th. Larson will be starting 32nd after failing pre-qualifying inspection and did not set a qualifying time. Larson has four Top 2 finishes in the last five races. Larson has stood out at Intermediate tracks and will obtain additional points based on Place Differential. He is a prime pick based on his PD promise, even though his past stats are not outstanding.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200) continues to be impressive at Intermediate tracks this season. At TMS, Truex has an AFP of 13.8, which is ninth-best of active drivers, 12 Top 10 finishes, and 439 Laps Led, which is the sixth-most, in 23 starts. In his last four starts at TMS, Truex has the best ARP of 5.0, 97.5% laps in the Top 15, which is the best in the series, and the best DR of 117.7. Truex will start seventh and has the most stage wins so far this year. Truex’s recent momentum and favorable history on Intermediate tracks make him a terrific pick.
Kevin Harvick ($10,000) will start on the pole at TMS. In 28 starts at the site, Harvick has 16 Top 10 finishes, and an AFP of 12.0, which is fifth-best. In the past two seasons at the site, Harvick has an ARP of 5.4, 96.4% Laps in the Top 15, and a DR of 114.6, all of which are second-best. Harvick dominated at Atlanta, which has a similar layout to TMS, despite finishing ninth. Harvick has a high chance of earning a lot of Fantasy points by leading a lot of laps early, so even if he does not win, he should be a great pick for total production.
Kyle Busch ($9,900) is one of the most consistent drivers at TMS in recent seasons. At the site, Kyle Busch has two wins, 12 Top 10 finishes, 741 Laps Led (third-most of active drivers), and an AFP of 11.6, which is fourth-best in 22 starts. In the past two seasons at the site, Kyle Busch has an ARP of 7.8, which is fourth-best, the best AFP of 3.3, and a DR of 109.1, which is fourth-best. Kyle Busch will start 34th after failing pre-qualifying inspection and had the fastest 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Kyle Busch should be a lock for fantasy owners based on PD potential and his fast practice speeds.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,700) has the most wins of active drivers at TMS. In 27 starts, Johnson has six wins, 20 Top 10 finishes, and 1,023 Laps Led, all of which are the most of active drivers. In the past two seasons, Johnson has an ARP of 7.1, which is third-best, and 191 Quality Passes (passes of cars inside the Top 15 under the green flag), which is the most, and the third-best DR of 114.2. Johnson was the fastest in final practice but will start from the rear after changing his tires after qualifying. This should not matter a lot, however, as Johnson was originally starting 24th, which was lower in the field. Based on practice speeds, Johnson should have no problem finishing close to or inside the Top 10, making him a solid play.
Chase Elliott ($9,500) is off to a stellar start this season, finishing no worse than 14th. At TMS, Elliott has two Top 5 finishes, an AFP of 4.5, which is the best of active drivers, and a DR of 100.8, which is seventh-best. Elliott will start 33rd after failing pre-qualifying inspection and was second fastest in final practice. Elliott will be a fantastic PD pick that you should expect to finish inside the Top 10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr’s ($8,500) first Cup series win came at TMS. At the site, Earnhardt has 17 Top 10 finishes, 448 Laps Led, which is fifth-best, and an AFP of 13.4, which is eighth-best throughout 28 starts. In the past two seasons, Earnhardt has an AFP of 3.8, which is second-best, an ARP of 9.6, which is eighth-best, and a DR of 107.2, which is sixth-best. Earnhardt will start 37th after failing pre-qualifying inspection and was seventh fastest in final practice. Despite a lack of recent momentum, Earnhardt has little risk due to his starting position. His practice speeds show that he should move through the field without a problem this week, making him a high-quality pick.
Ryan Blaney ($8,100) starts second this week at TMS. In four starts, Blaney has one Top 15 finish, two DNFs, an ARP of 28.0, which is 27th, and a DR of 58.1, which is 24th. Blaney was fastest in first practice and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in the session. Blaney’s past stats are not favorable but he looked fast in practice, making him a good pick for the price range.
BARGAIN PICKS FOR $8,000 OR LESS
Erik Jones ($7,600) will be starting 36th after failing pre-qualifying inspection. In his only start at TMS, Jones started sixth and finished 12th, had an ARP of 11.2, which is ninth-best of active drivers, and a DR of 92.4, which is 10th-best. Jones was 13th fastest in final practice and had the 10th-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. Jones has a low salary for his expected performance and should easily finish in the Top 15, making him a top-notch pick.
Kasey Kahne ($7,300) will start 35th after failing pre-qualifying inspection. In 25 starts at TMS, Kahne has one win, nine Top 10 finishes, and an AFP of 17.4, which is 15th among active drivers. In the last two seasons, Kahne has an ARP of 12.5, which is 11th, an AFP of 11.0, which is eighth-best, and a DR of 90.5, which is 11th. Kahne had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Kahne has been solid in practice and will likely get a healthy amount of points based on PD while being a great bargain pick.
Daniel Suarez ($7,200) starts 20th at TMS. He will be making his first start at the site. Suarez has two Top 10 finishes in the last three races. Suarez was sixth fastest in final practice. His low salary and fast practice speeds should make him an appealing bargain to finish just outside the Top 10. Being in Carl Edwards’ old ride cannot hurt either, as the previous driver always fared well at TMS.
Aric Almirola ($6,400) will start 18th. In 12 starts at TMS, Almirola has five Top 20 finishes including two of the last four races. Almirola was fourth fastest in final practice. Almirola has favorable history at TMS and has momentum from finishing in the Top 20 in the last four races this season. Almirola is a fine bargain that should finish in the Top 20, if not better.
Chris Buescher ($6,000) will start 38th after failing pre-qualifying inspection. In three starts at TMS, Buescher has one Top 25 finish and finished with positive PD every time. Buescher was 17th fastest in final practice and had the ninth best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. Buescher is a bargain with little risk and will likely finish ahead of where he starts, making him an essential play at the end of your lineup.
The following drivers will start from the back instead of their original starting position (DraftKings will count the original starting positions for these drivers for PD purposes):
Trevor Bayne (backup car) – Originally starting 12th
Kasey Kahne (backup car) – Originally starting 35th
Jimmie Johnson (changed tires after qualifying) – Originally starting 24th
TOP 15 DRIVERS OVERALL FOR O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 — BASED ON COMBINATION OF PROJECTED PERFORMANCE AND VALUE
1: Kyle Busch ($9,900)
2: Kyle Larson ($10,200)
3: Brad Keselowski ($10,500)
4: Chase Elliott ($9,500)
5: Kevin Harvick ($10,000)
6: Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200)
7: Jimmie Johnson ($9,700)
8: Erik Jones ($7,600)
9: Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($8,500)
10: Kasey Kahne ($7,300)
11: Ryan Blaney ($8,100)
12: Joey Logano ($9,800)
13: Aric Almirola ($6,400)
14: Chris Buescher ($6,000)
15: Daniel Suarez ($7,200)