It all comes down to this (Part 2 of 2). The final race of the NASCAR season is this weekend, as we’ll be crowning a Champion on Sunday, not only in real life, but also in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest game. Heading into the season finale, Souhtpark00 owns a 106-point lead over chrisjen, while Soletrain is 161 points. All other teams are 300+ points out of the lead. Good luck to everyone in this final race, though.
Also a big thank you to everyone that has played this game in 2019. I hope you enjoyed playing as much as I have enjoyed administrating, and I hope you will continue as this site grows into the future.
Rain cancelled qualifying this weekend, as NASCAR opted for getting a single practice session in instead of just adding to the schedule and getting everything in. The starting lineup was determined by owners points, and you can click here to see where everyone starts. You can find the speeds from practice on Saturday by clicking 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.*
Ford EcoBoost 400 Slingshot Picks
Denny Hamlin ($13,000) – I don’t particularly love the highest-priced driver on my lineup this weekend, but with my other four picks, I couldn’t afford any of the other Playoff drivers, so I’m going to stick with the pole sitter. Denny Hamlin is a two-time winner here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and not only is he on the pole for Sunday’s finale, but he also has the best pit stall pick because of it. With how fast this #11 crew is, that should be a significant advantage during the Ford EcoBoost 400. Also, speaking of fast, that’s what Hamlin was during Saturday’s lone practice session, as the #11 Toyota was 3rd-fastest in single-lap speed while also ranking P1 on the ten-lap average chart. Additionally, if you averaged all laps ran by all drivers in that practice, Hamlin had the best car. He hasn’t posted a top 5 finish at Homestead since he won here back in 2013, but I think that changes on Sunday. He should get some Stage points, too, along the way.
Kurt Busch ($10,900) – When you think about Homestead-Miami Speedway, you typically think of some great racing action, and the reason that we see such awesome racing here is because this is an old, worn out track. When tires matter on race day, the fans win. So let’s take a look back at how Kurt Busch has performed this season when tires actually mattered: 3rd at Atlanta, 6th at Fontana, 13th at Chicagoland, and 7th at Darlington. Pretty solid if you ask me. This weekend, Kurt rolls off the grid from the 13th-place starting spot, and he’s finished between 8th and 13th in five of his last seven Homestead races. This #1 Chevrolet wasn’t blazing fast during practice on Saturday, but don’t forget that Kyle Larson is Kurt’s teammate now, and that guy has owned Homestead in recent years. I think the elder Busch brother will be at least top 10 good on Sunday.
Erik Jones ($10,800) – Erik Jones has been responsible for some of my best NASCAR Fantasy days, as well as some of my worst. He’s just one of those guys: a boom or bust pick at most tracks. And thus far at Homestead, Jones has been a complete bust. Despite having an average starting position of 10.5 in his two starts here, Erik hasn’t finished better than 21st at this track, and his best driver rating has been 74.9. So why am I rolling the dice with Jones on Sunday? Well, he starts back in 16th, and I like those place differential points, but also the fact that he’s been solid on the worn-out tracks this year: 7th at Atlanta, 7th at Chicagoland, and a win at Darlington. Jones also finished 6th and 7th in the two Stages at Fontana but ultimately ended up 19th at the checkered flag after a caution trapped him a lap down with about 40 laps to go. Speed-wise, I’d argue the #20 Toyota is a top 10 car this weekend despite being just 14th-best in ten-lap average in practice.
Chris Buescher ($7,700) – One of the best NASCAR Fantasy values on 1.5-mile tracks this season has been Chris Buescher, and I don’t expect anything to change this weekend even though it will be his final race with JTG Daugherty. On this track type in 2019, Buescher has posted an average finish of 14.1, which is 13th-best in the garage. Not too shabby. And at the high-tire wear tracks, Buescher ended up 9th at Atlanta, 16th at Fontana, 18th at Chicagoland, and 12th at Darlington. The #37 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 20th when Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 goes green and that’s about the worst I see Buescher finishing this weekend. His first three starts at Homestead have ended with him in 24th, 20th, and 23rd, but I’m expecting marginally better than that out of Buescher this time around.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,600) – I’ll admit, I was one of those people that thought Matt DiBenedetto’s performance would taper off a bit after the announcement that he wouldn’t be back in the #95 Toyota next season, but coming into this weekend, DiBenedetto has finished 16th or better in seven of the last eight Cup Series races with the only exception being Talladega. Now, Matt’s performance on the 1.5-mile tracks this season has been quite the opposite, as through those ten races, he’s averaging a finish around 24th (worse than Daniel Hemric and Austin Dillon, among 24 others). However, this #95 team has steadily improved on this track type over the year, and I think they’re poised to challenge for their best finish on it on Sunday (currently it’s 14th, which came at Texas a couple weeks ago). If not, DiBenedetto starts in 21st, so it’d take a wreck or something catastrophic for him to ruin a Slingshot lineup anyway.