After a crazy ending to the race at Kentucky last weekend, we’re at Texas Motor Speedway with a very similar setup. Like Kentucky, this Texas track was recently repaved–the last six races are the only relevant ones to look at–and we’re also running the exact same tire combination, just like we did at Las Vegas. In other words, we have two great, recent races to look at to see how this one will play out. Track position was incredibly important in both of those events and that is going to be a deciding factor in this race on Sunday as well. One thing to note, though: this weekend’s race is 500 miles long, while Las Vegas and Kentucky were 400 miles. That just gives us more time for more strategy to play out.
The guy that led almost half of the race at Kentucky (Aric Almirola) pulled the pole for this weekend’s race at Texas while the guy who had the fastest car in terms of Green Flag Speed (Ryan Blaney) will roll off 2nd on Sunday. You can click here for the full starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Texas.
*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 Texas
Kevin Harvick ($13,000) – It probably seemed like just another race for Kevin Harvick at Kentucky last weekend, considering he finished 4th, but you have to remember, he had just one top 5 finish at that track in his previous nine attempts. Some NASCAR beat writers say that the #4 team “settled” for that finish, but in my eyes, a career-best finish at a track is a pretty damn good day no matter who you are. ANYWAY, my point here is, don’t assume that Kevin Harvick is going to be as slow here at Texas as he was at Kentucky even though conditions are relatively similar. Harvick isn’t good at Kentucky. Harvick is great at Texas, with three wins in the last five races, and top 4 finishes in five of the six races on the new pavement. His worst result? An 8th last year, when he started back in 23rd. Harvick starts up in 5th for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and should be a contender to win. I also like Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,600) in this spot, who starts a little further back (10th) and should be a contender as well.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000) – Do I love the fact that Ryan Blaney drew the 2nd position in the qualifying draw? Yes and no. For the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, this adds more risk in picking him, because if he has a bad day or has some kind of issue, that’s easily going to be a negative points day for him. However, for Fantasy NASCAR in general, this is a great twist of fate for Ryan Blaney. Simply put, he is the fastest on this track type in 2020. He had the best Green Flag Speed at both Las Vega and Kentucky. He has a series-best average finish of 5.2 over all six races on 1.5-mile tracks this year. He’s tied for the series lead in average finish (6.0) on the low wear 1.5-mile tracks. And depending on when he can get around Aric Almirola on Sunday, there’s a good chance that Blaney could lead the most laps this week, and possibly even win a Stage or two. He’s finished 8th or better in four of his last five starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
Christopher Bell ($9,400) – Death, taxes, and Christopher Bell having an awful draw in qualifying. Sound familiar? It should, because I literally just copied and pasted that exact sentence from my Slingshot write-up last weekend. Bell will start from back in 33rd for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas, making it six straight races where he’s drawn a starting spot of 33rd or worse. In the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, this makes Christopher Bell fantasy gold, as he’s finished 7th at Kentucky, 8th at Homestead, and 9th at Charlotte this season. This #95 Toyota has pretty much had top 12 speed in each of the last six races and there’s no reason why it won’t this weekend as well. Christopher Bell is non-negotiable in my eyes for the Slingshot game this weekend unless you’re specifically fading him in hopes that he wrecks or something.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,600) – This is probably one of my favorite Fantasy NASCAR picks this weekend. Jimmie Johnson has had a very fast race car in pretty much all 1.5-mile track races this season, as his average Green Flag Speed ranking on this track type in 2020 is 10.7, but he’s been even better on the low wear tracks, where his average Green Flag Speed rank is 7.3, making him the 6th-fastest in the garage. Last week at Kentucky, Johnson was battling for a top 5 late before he got turned by Brad Keselowski, and don’t forget that the #48 Chevrolet came home 5th at Las Vegas back in February. Johnson starts back in 20th for this weekend’s race but should be able to pick up a good amount of place differential points by the checkered flag. Since the Texas repave, Jimmie has a win and a 5th-place finish and he’s also led 111 laps over the last three events here.
Austin Dillon ($7,900) – What do you do when you have a hot table in Vegas? You keep rolling the dice. That’s a decent metaphor for Austin Dillon this weekend, especially when you consider he only has a chance to win this race if he gambles. However, in the Fantasy NASCAR world, you don’t need wins from a driver in this tier, you just need good finishes, and that’s what Austin Dillon does. Here at Texas, he’s finished between 10th and 14th in four of the last five races, and on the 1.5-mile tracks this year, Austin has an average finish of 9.7, which is 5th-best in the series behind Blaney, Keselowski, Truex, and Harvick. The #3 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 21st here at Texas on Sunday which means an 11th-place finish nets 90 fantasy points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.