Options, options, options–that’s the story of this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway when it comes to the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Qualifying on Friday was a bit screwy, and we ended up with a bunch of very good drivers starting outside of the top 10. In fact, seven of the top eight highest-priced drivers in the Slingshot game this week are starting 12th or worse. Now it comes down to putting the best lineup together and your strategy along with it: is it worth paying up for guys like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, or is a more balanced approach better for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500? You can see my strategy with my picks laid out below.
We all know how important place differential is when it comes to the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, and the full starting lineup for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas can be found by clicking here. Please note: Alex Bowman will have to start from the rear because he wrecked his primary car during qualifying, but he will still be scored from the 24th-place starting spot. There was one post-qualifying practice session on Saturday and you canclick here for Happy Hour speeds/notes.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Picks for Texas
Ryan Blaney ($11,200) – I’m going with a more balanced approach with my Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest lineup this weekend. I’d love to pay up to get Kevin Harvick ($12,400) for Sunday–as his stats here at Texas and at the 1.5-mile tracks in 2019 thus far are well above everyone else–but I just couldn’t fit him into a lineup without taking a flier with someone like Landon Cassill. So I’ll take another great option in this price range: Ryan Blaney. This kid has been great here at Texas since the repave in 2017, posting an average finish of 6.3 over the four races on the “new” surface and an average running position of 6.5–which is 2nd-best in the series, for the record. Additionally, Blaney almost won at Las Vegas earlier this year, which is another 1.5-mile track like Texas. The #12 Ford was 3rd-fastest in Saturday’s lone practice session.
Kyle Larson ($11,000) – The #42 Chevrolet looks to have very good long run speed this weekend, which is going to be a key component for success for Kyle Larson to move up through the field from his 22nd-place starting spot; in Saturday’s lone practice session, Larson ranked 3rd in 10-lap average, 15-lap average, and 20-lap average. As far as success at this track, Larson has been hit or miss in the last four races at Texas Motor Speedway. However, when he doesn’t run into issues during the event, he’s been really good–to the tune of a 5th-place finish last fall and a 2nd-place finish in the spring race of 2017. We saw this #42 Chevrolet lead a bunch of laps at Atlanta this year and Larson ended up 12th at Las Vegas a few weeks ago. He should be good for at least a top 10 finish here at Texas on Sunday.
Kurt Busch ($10,900) – Here’s the most obvious “chalk” Fantasy NASCAR pick for the weekend when it comes to leagues that award points for place differential. Kurt Busch will start from back in 30th for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 but he should be much better than that in the race. Here at Texas, Kurt owns an 8.3 average finish since the repave back in 2017, and when we look at the other two races at 1.5-mile tracks this season, Busch has ended up inside the top 5 in each of those. Speed-wise, the #1 Chevrolet was 4th-fastest in final practice here on Saturday and Kurt had the 2nd-best 20-lap average behind pole sitter Jimmie Johnson. If he can keep it off the wall on Sunday, Busch should have a monster points day in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Aric Almirola ($10,700) – Since the midway point of last season, Aric Almirola has been a model of consistency in Fantasy NASCAR, which can be very good in certain situations. This is one of those situation. Almirola didn’t have the best lap in qualifying here on Friday and will start from back in 21st, but the #10 Ford should be fast enough to compete for a top 10 finish–which, by the way, Almirola has posted in every single race this season except for the Daytona 500. Looking back at last season’s Texas races, Aric had issues in the spring race and came home 32nd, but in the fall he wound up 8th and even put up 12 fastest laps.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,000) – This pick is essentially just a roster filler, but I like DiBenedetto over everyone else priced $6,000 and under because his equipment is much more reliable. Of course, that doesn’t stop Matt from putting the #95 Toyota into the wall on Sunday, but you get the point. DiBenedetto qualified 26th for this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 but should be able to contend for a low-20s finish when it’s all said and done. In the two races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, DiBenedetto has an average finish of 23.5 with an average running position of 23.0. For what it’s worth, DiBenedetto ranked 9th in 20-lap average during Saturday’s practice session. It’s either going to be him or David Ragan ($6,100) for me; both have similar statistics here at Texas and 1.5-mile tracks this season, but Ragan starts a little further back in 28th.