NASCAR Picks for Texas
Length: 1.500 miles
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Just three races remain in the 2014 Cup Series season, and this weekend, the action heads to the always-fast Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday's AAA Texas 500. The race will be the 10th of the season held at a 1.5-mile track so the drivers and teams should have a pretty good idea of what setups to use as a starting point. Similarly, fantasy owners should have a pretty good idea of which drivers and teams to target when they begin building their fantasy lineups. After all, success tends to translate between the 1.5-mile ovals, and while there are always a couple of surprises, the drivers that have been reliable at the tracks up to this point should continue to deliver this weekend.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
Logano is easily the top fantasy option available this weekend. He is going for a season sweep at Texas after winning the spring race, and he has finished in the Top 5 in his last three starts at the track. Logano also leads all drivers with a 4.3 average finish during the Chase, and his 5.9 average finish at 1.5-mile tracks this season is tops in the series, as well.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
A lot has been made of the fact that Kenseth is winless in 2014, but he has remained one of the steadiest performers, especially at 1.5-mile ovals. He has scored the fourth-most points in the series in nine races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, logging a series-best seven Top-10s. Meanwhile, his 7.0 average finish in the last 20 races at Texas is the best in the series, and he has finished in the Top 5 in six of his last eight starts at the track.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon finished second at Texas earlier this year, and he has been a stud at 1.5-mile ovals. His 6.7 average finish and four Top-5 finishes at 1.5-mile ovals in 2014 are the second best in the series, and his seven Top-10s are tied for the most of any driver. Gordon should be an elite fantasy option this weekend.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
A mechanical issue has his title hopes on life support once again, but I think we all remember how he responded in the last round of the playoffs. Plus, Keselowski has finished in the Top 15 in his last four starts at Texas, including finishes of sixth and second in his last two starts in the fall race. Expect Keselowski to contend for a win this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Johnson hasn't shown his typical speed lately, and his luck hasn't been much better. However, he did win the fall race at Texas last year and in 2012, and he is a three-time winner at the track for his career. Throw in the fact that his 9.7 average finish in the last 20 races at Texas is the second best in the series, and writing off Johnson would be a foolish.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He was runner-up at Texas last fall, and he has been rock solid at the track in general lately. Junior has finished in the Top 10 in five of his last seven starts at Texas, and he has finished seventh or better in his last three starts in the fall race. He should be a solid Top-10 option this weekend for fantasy owners.
Kevin Harvick, #4 Budweiser/Jimmy Johns, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Matt Kenseth's curb hop at Martinsville has put Harvick in a must-win situation. Granted, Harvick has been more of a Top-10 driver at Texas than a Top-5 driver, but his 740 laps led at 1.5-mile ovals in 2014 are by far the most in the series. Some other big names have been a bit better at Texas in the past, but Harvick could still anchor a fantasy lineup this weekend.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Busch may not be the most popular driver, but outside of getting wrecked at Talladega, he has been a stud during the Chase. He has finished 11th or better in the other six Chase events, and he should deliver another strong performance this weekend at Texas. He has finished in the Top 15 in five straight starts at the track, and he has finished third or better in three of his last four starts. Fantasy owners in Yahoo! leagues looking to gain ground should consider Busch as an alternative A-List option.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
While he hasn't had a Top-5 finish at Texas since sweeping both races at the track in 2011, Hamlin has remained solid at the track. He has four Top-15s in six starts since the sweep, including finishes of 13th and seventh in his last two starts. Hamlin should be able to challenge for another Top-10 finish this weekend.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although Biffle has struggled to find top-end speed most of the year, Texas has always been one of his best tracks. He is a two-time winner at Texas, and he has finished 12th or better in 12 straight starts at the tracks. During the same stretch, Biffle has seven Top-5 finishes and 11 Top-10s, including a sixth-place run earlier this year. Fantasy owners should feel very comfortable plugging him into their lineups this weekend.
Kyle Larson, #42 Target, Chip Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class C]
The rookie finished fifth at Texas earlier this year, and Larson has been on a tear at 1.5-mile tracks recently. In his last four starts at 1.5-mile ovals, he has finished eighth, third, second and sixth. Larson has Top-5 upside this weekend, and he is the clear No. 1 option at C-List option in Yahoo! leagues.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He has been one of the steadiest performers at Texas throughout his career, and Bowyer's 12.5 average finish over the past 20 races ranks third fifth in the series. In his last eight starts at Texas, Bowyer has six Top-10 finishes, including finishes of 10th last fall and eighth earlier this year. He might not challenge for a Top-5, but he should be one of the safer options for fantasy options.