The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes from a short track to a fast track when as it heads to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 3 PM race on FOX.
Now now that we are six weeks into the season with six different winners, if you are off to a slow start, your fantasy team may need to get on the fast track too. If you are on pick limits like in the Yahoo! leagues where you get a driver just nine times during the season, you may be in a bit of a dilemma. Do you save guys like Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and others for later in the season, or do you use them now to try and get a boost in the standings so you’re not buried by the time the final 10 races come around?
I’m not going to tell you which direction you should go here. But that’s something to definitely keep in mind when making the picks for this week’s race.
LOOKING FOR SOME ACES
Well, yes, two of the aforementioned drivers that top this list are Johnson and Kenseth. If you really need a win, you should pick at least one of them.
In the last four races at Texas, Jimmie Johnson has won two of them and has been sixth or better in the other two. Johnson has also led an astounding 579 laps in those four races, more than double of any other driver. Even if you are in a pick limit league, it’s still very difficult to not pick Johnson this week. And also, since there have been six different winners in the first six races and Johnson is not one of them, the law of averages says he’s going to get one soon.
If you go with Matt Kenseth, you can’t really go wrong here either. While he has not won in the last four races, he has finished between fourth and 12th in each of them. Kenseth does have two career wins at Texas and has finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 23 races there and has led the most laps among active drivers there at 775.
Another driver who has been very good, but not as dominant as Johnson, at Texas is Kyle Busch. He has one win in the last four races and his worst finish in those races has been 13th. Busch has also led 253 laps in those races, 171 of them being last spring when he put a hurting on the field, winning from the pole.
Also, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. doesn’t have great numbers in the last four races at Texas, with a second and two other top 10s, the fact that he has been better this year at most places than before bodes well if you want to pick him. Junior does have a win and 13 top 10 finishes in 23 career races at Texas.
MIDDLE OF THE ROADSTERS
Denny Hamlin didn’t get to do this race last year as he was in the midst of recovering from a back injury suffered at California. But he looks like a solid pick this week. Hamlin has two wins and seven other top 10 finishes in his 16 career races at Texas. And like Johnson and Kenseth, he’s also looking for his first win of the season.
A driver who has had a good amount of success at Texas is Greg Biffle. He has one win in the last four races there and his worst finish in those races is 12th. For his career, Biffle has two wins at Texas and 12 top 10 finishes in all in 20 races while leading 733 laps. The Roush cars haven’t exactly been competitive at fast tracks this year, and Biffle has been all but irrelevant.
A driver who hasn’t won at Texas but has been close is Martin Truex, Jr.It’s true that he’s in different equipment now, but you can’t put a value on a driver knowing what a car needs to feel like to run fast at a certain track. In all, Truex has finished between second and 14th in these last four races at the 1.5-mile oval and he’s also led an impressive 211 laps.
If you’re into a bit of karma, here, then there’s Clint Bowyer. He has yet to win at Texas, but he did appear on an episode of Duck Dynasty and Duck Commander is the sponsor for this race. You’ve also got the Robertson family doing all of the pre-race ceremonies, including Si Robertson being the grand marshal and giving the command for drivers to start their engines. You have to wonder if he’s going to work the word, “Jack” into that somehow. At any rate, Bowyer does have nine top 10 finishes, with a top finish of second, in his 16 career races there.
One other driver not to ignore, even though his numbers in the last four races haven’t been great, is Tony Stewart. For his career, Stewart has two wins and 12 top 10 finishes in all at Texas. He’s also led the third most career laps there among active drivers at 727.
And yes, we’re back to talking about pick limits again.
So, you know, there are the usual choices here in Austin Dillon or Kyle Larson. If you are on the nine-race pick limits, you get them for nine races each. That leaves 18 more races to cover.
The entry list does give one different kind of option this week as Trevor Bayne is entered in his No. 21 Ford. Bayne, running a partial schedule again this season, hasn’t had great success at Texas, but if you’re looking to fill out your roster with a cheaper or rarely used driver, then Bayne could fit on your team. He does have one top 20 finish in the last four races at Texas (an 18th). Overall, he has four top 20 finishes in seven races at Texas, but the best of those is a 17th.
As for Larson and Dillon, they do have some Sprint Cup experience at the track, though not much success. Larson has one start and finished 23rd and Dillon has two starts with finishes of 22nd and 33rd. If you want to go for Larson, at this point he looks more capable of having a top five finish or even an upset win, but also capable of finishing in the 30s. If you want to go for Dillon, well, he’s been more consistent and while he’s more of a long shot to win a race right now, he’s maybe a safer pick if you are looking for a top 15.
Another driver to consider here this week may be Justin Allgaier. He had an average finish of 29th in the first three races, but has an average mark of 22nd in the last three races, including a best finish of 17th. The Turner Motorsports program that rose from the ashes of Phoenix Racing seems to be getting better.
Migrainehead’s Chargers regained the lead in what is a close battle for the overall spot in the 70-team Frontstretch league on Yahoo! The Chargers have 1,626 points, while bundys bombers are at 1,618, jimmie wins again is at 1,615, mojothemonkey is at 1,593 and Team Stallknecht is at 1,590.
The top weekly finish went to Ratj02 at 326 points with the lineup of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in third, Joey Logano in fourth, Austin Dillon in 15th and Greg Biffle in 11th.
About the author
Jeff is in his fifth year with Frontstretch and in his third year of writing the Hot and Not column after having been the fantasy writer in his first two seasons. After spending all of his post-collegiate career in sports and news at newspapers, he changed professions three years ago, but remains a faithful fan of NASCAR and other forms of racing allowing him to give us his unique take on NASCAR each week.
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