After a very long Sunday night race with the Coca-Cola 600, the NASCAR Cup Series comes back to Charlotte Motor Speedway this Wednesday night for the Alsco 500(k). With it only being a 500 kilometer race, that means we’re going just a little bit more than half of the 600 miles that Sunday’s race was scheduled for.
Like at Darlington last week, the field for Wednesday night’s race was set by the finishing order of Sunday’s race, with the top 20 finishers being inverted, and then 21st through 40th starting where they finished. Click here for the starting lineup for Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte. Unfortunately, with there being so many big-name drivers having rough nights on Sunday, that means there’s a lot of “no brainer” Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest picks for Wednesday.
*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 race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Charlotte
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,400) – Can you really go against Martin Truex, Jr. on Wednesday night? He’s one of those drivers that absolutely thrives under the lights, and Charlotte Motor Speedway might be his best track. With his 6th-place finish on Sunday evening, Truex now has eight results of 6th or better in the last nine races at this track, and he’s also led 87 or more laps in five of the last seven. The #19 Toyota rolls off the grid from 15th on Wednesday night, giving Truex the highest starting position of all of the major ‘probable’ contenders. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up in victory lane. He ranked 1st in green flag average speed, fastest on restarts, and speed late in a run in Sunday night’s race.
Ryan Blaney ($11,200) – One guy who I kind of whiffed on on Sunday evening was Ryan Blaney, who had a top 2 car at both Las Vegas and Fontana earlier this year. He qualified back in 26th for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and ended up 4th when the checkered flag flew, before being credited with a 3rd-place finish thanks to Jimmie Johnson’s disqualification. That means Blaney will start 18th on Wednesday night. Now, Blaney’s record here at Charlotte isn’t stellar–just two top 10 finishes in nine career starts–but that #12 Ford is really strong on the intermediates this year. Blaney ranked 7th in green flag speed Sunday (click here for the cheat sheet) and 6th in fastest drivers late in a run. I think he has top 5 potential again here on Wednesday night.
Jimmie Johnson ($11,000) – Now comes the chalk picks. As I’m sure you know, place differential is a major factor in the scoring of the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, so any time you have a driver with top 10 potential starting in the back, he’s pretty much a “must” pick–unless you want to take the strategy route and purposely not pick him, hoping something happens. Jimmie Johnson originally finished 2nd in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, which meant he would be starting 19th on Wednesday night, but post-race inspection found the #48 Chevrolet to be illegal, and Johnson was stripped of the finish and given a 40th-place instead. That means he starts 40th on Wednesday night. Now, we’ve seen in the past that when other teams got caught with an illegal car, they seemed to have lost some speed, but I’m not worried about that at all. Hendrick Motorsports has brought out the big guns to start the 2020 season, and until I see any different, I’m rolling with them. Johnson was 5th-fastest in green flag speed on Sunday night.
Clint Bowyer ($9,900) – Clint Bowyer will also be starting in the back on Wednesday night, one spot ahead of Jimmie Johnson in 39th. However, Bowyer won’t be back there because of an illegal car. He’ll be back there because of a destroyed car. Right before the end of Stage One on Sunday night, Clint had some kind of issue and ended up hard in the wall with fire and smoke following soon. Keep in mind, though, he was running 11th at the time of that happening. Bowyer has had strong cars this season (see the Green Flag Speed Cheat Sheet) and should pick up plenty of place differential points on Wednesday night.
Joey Gase ($5,500) – With a loaded lineup up top, I have to take a scrub in this position. By going with Joey Gase, I’m basically just hoping he lasts the whole race. He starts back in 36th, so even if he wrecks on lap one, he isn’t going to have a ton of negative points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, but on the flip side, if other cars wreck throughout the night, Gase could move up a few spots. For what it’s worth, Joey ran 30th and 29th in the two Darlington races last weekend in this #51 Ford.
Alternate Roster Considerations
You may be asking, what about Bubba Wallace ($7,400)? He had brake issues on Sunday night and will have to start from back in 38th, which makes him a great place differential pick like Johnson and Bowyer. However, Wallace is going to cap out around 20th. If he finishes any better than that, it’s going to be due to attrition in the race. He’s certainly a safe Slingshot pick on Wednesday night, but I wanted to load up on a couple of guys I think can win the race (Truex and Blaney).
Pretty much all eight of the highest-priced drivers are in play for Wednesday night, at least in my book. Harvick is always a solid pick, Kyle Busch should run top 5, Chase Elliott should have won on Sunday night, and Brad Keselowski did win. All of those guys have solid place differential potential as well. One driver I’m interested in seeing how well he does is Denny Hamlin ($11,700), who starts 29th but has a great record at Charlotte (five top 5 finishes in the last eight races). He’ll probably be without some key members of his crew on Wednesday due to that loose weight on Sunday, though. But still, another solid play, and if I’m going to pivot off of Blaney, it will be to jump up and grab Hamlin (and then switch Gase with BJ McLeod).
If you want a sleeper pick that should be relatively low-owned, Erik Jones ($10,300) was really impressive on Sunday night and will start 10th on Wednesday night. Starting that much closer to the front than the other contenders means he has a little better chance of getting to the lead quicker. Jones ranks 4th in green flag speed since NASCAR has returned, for what that’s worth (click here for the Green Flag Speed Cheat Sheet).
Of course, the likely driver to lead the most laps on Wednesday is Alex Bowman ($10,700), or William Byron ($10,000) since they’re starting on the front row. And while leading the most laps does pay an extra 10 fantasy points in this game, I don’t think it’s worth the risk of negative place differential points.