Typically races at 1.5-mile tracks are pretty cut and dry. This weekend, however, things are a little bit different at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two practice sessions on Friday had a ‘weird’ feel to them, with drivers that are normally very fast not finding a ton of speed, and then in qualifying on Saturday, quite a few legitimate top 5 contenders qualified outside of the top 10 entirely. I guess that’s good news for Slingshot Fantasy Auto players, though, since place differential points are so important in this game.
Click here for the starting lineup for Sunday night’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. You can also find the speeds from Practice #1 on Friday by clicking here. For speeds from the second practice (Happy Hour), click here.
*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.*
South Point 400 Slingshot Picks
Kyle Busch ($12,800) – I debated for quite a while on whether or not to have Kevin Harvick ($13,000) fill this roster spot, but in the end I decided to go with Kyle Busch. I think Harvick has the best car for Sunday night’s race and should easily get 15+ Stage points, but Kyle Busch starts back in 20th and should also be a top 5 threat, so I’m going to roll with the place differential play. Also, who’s to say Rowdy won’t be able to grab some Stage points as well? Kyle is a consistent top 10 contender at his home race track and has finished 7th or better in five of the last seven Vegas races, including a 3rd-place effort here back in March. The #18 Toyota had the best ten-lap average in final practice here on Friday, too. Busch should be one of the highest scoring Slingshot drivers once again on Sunday night.
Joey Logano ($12,100) – One of the most surprising happenings during qualifying on Saturday was how much Penske Racing as a whole struggled. As I mentioned earlier, though, when drivers like Joey Logano have a poor qualifying effort, you have to love it if you play the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Logano is the defending winner here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and has also finished 7th or better in each fo the last five races here. As far as the 1.5-mile tracks this season, Joey has the best average finish on this track type of anyone in the garage (7.5) by almost two full spots over 2nd-best (9.3–Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman). Logano had the 3rd-best ten-lap average in final practice here on Friday and starts back in 22nd on Sunday. He’s a place differential gold mine.
Brad Keselowski ($11,900) – I don’t mind doubling up on the Penske drivers at all–they’re that good here. Brad Keselowski won here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the last time we visited in the fall (this time last season), and in the March race this year, he finished runner-up to his teammate, Logano. Those two finishes are part of an eight-race streak of results of 7th or better for Kez here in Sin City. That kind of consistency doesn’t happen by luck. This #2 Ford has been up-and-down on the 1.5-mile tracks this season but now that the Playoffs are here, I think we’re going to see this team turn it up a notch. Keselowski starts back in 18th on Sunday night but should be a top 5 threat when it’s all said and done.
Chris Buescher ($7,300) – Chris Buescher has been an incredible value play in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest for much of the 2019 season, and this weekend is no different. The #37 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 28th when the South Point 400 goes green on Sunday night, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Buescher end up inside the top 15 when it’s all said and done. Don’t forget: this guy hasn’t finished worse than 18th since the Dover race back in May! As far as the 1.5-mile tracks go, Buescher has a very impressive average finish of 13.7 on them this season, and here at Las Vegas he ended up 18th the last time we were here. I’d argue that this #37 team is running even better now and should be able to easily be a few spots better than that on Sunday night.
Matt Tifft ($5,800) – Originally I had Corey LaJoie ($5,700) in this spot, and for a couple of reasons. First, as I said before, I had Harvick in my lineup, and the only way to stay under the salary cap with him would have been to take LaJoie. But secondly, I don’t think LaJoie is a bad play this weekend. He qualified 33rd, which is obviously good for place differential, and when you look at the other 1.5-mile track races this season, that #32 Ford hasn’t been awful–actually pretty good, with an average finish of 24.5. With that being said, LaJoie is one of those drivers that survives through attrition, whereas Matt Tifft can legitimately challenge for a top 25. The other Front Row Motorsports cars had awesome speed here on Saturday, too, and usually that translates into a better-than-average race for Tifft on race day. Matt’s average finish on the 1.5-mile tracks this season is 25.8, and he starts 29th in Sunday night’s South Point 400.