Finally! We have a repeat winner on the low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this season, as Joey Logano won at Kansas last weekend after taking the checkered flag at Las Vegas earlier this year as well. Ironically, the #22 Ford wasn’t the best car in either of those races, but Joey was up front when it mattered the most. This weekend, we’re heading down to Texas for the final 1.5-mile race of the season. Goodyear is bringing the exact same tire combination from Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago (the race Kurt Busch won), and the left side tire is the same one that was used here at Texas earlier this year (as well as at Kentucky and Michigan. Kevin Harvick will be on the pole for Sunday’s race and you can click here for the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 starting lineup.
*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 the Texas AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Kyle Busch ($11,300) – Yep, Kyle Busch is the highest-priced driver in my lineup this weekend at Texas, as I am going with a more central approach to the build. So let’s get into that. Rowdy is always fast at Texas Motor Speedway, and since he’s eliminated from Championship contention, he has some room for place differential this weekend as well, starting 9th. Over the last 15 races at this track, Kyle has finished inside the top 5 in nine of those events, and also went to victory lane three times during that span. In the first race here this season, he started 4th and finished 4th. This #18 team is fresh off of a top 5 finish at Kansas last weekend and I could see Busch pulling off a similar effort here at Texas on Sunday. One thing worth noting is that over the last five races at this track only one driver has more fastest laps than Kyle Busch, and that is Kevin Harvick.
Ryan Blaney ($11,200) – There have been two ‘go-to’ drivers for me on the 1.5-mile tracks this season, and one of the two is Ryan Blaney. Last week at Kansas he ended up finishing 7th, but honestly that was a little worse than the actual speed of the car. The #12 Ford ranked 2nd in Green Flag Speed for that race and now has an average ranking of 3.6 in that category in all of the low-wear 1.5-mile events this season. For reference to how fast that average ranking is, Joey Logano is a distant second in that category with an average rank of 6.3 in Green Flag Speed. Blaney is similar to Kyle Busch this weekend in that he starts 10th and has some room for place differential. He’s finished 8th or better in five of the last six Texas races and has an average finish of 8.1 on the low-wear 1.5-milers in 2020, which is 3rd-best behind Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.
Erik Jones ($10,800) – If Erik Jones burned you at Kansas last weekend, just remember this: he finished 5th in the first Stage of that race. The #20 Toyota was solid up until the damage with Matt Kenseth’s wreck, and the day went south from there for this team. Momentum-wise, Jones still has five finishes of 8th or better in the last seven Cup Series races overall, and here at Texas he has ended up 10th or better in each of the last six races, with four of the last five being finishes of either 4th or 6th. Obviously Jones isn’t super trustworthy in terms of Fantasy NASCAR, and there’s always that narrative of, “what if he’s not getting the best equipment from JGR since he’s leaving soon,” but I don’t read a lot into that. Taking Erik Jones at face value this weekend puts him in the top 10 when the checkered flag waves on Sunday. He starts back in 17th so that will be a solid day in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest if that happens.
Alex Bowman ($10,400) – As I said before, there are two ‘go-to’ drivers for me at 1.5-mile tracks: one is Ryan Blaney, and the other has been Alex Bowman. Does he have disappointing finishes on these tracks? Yes, as this #88 team dealt with fading in the second half of races earlier this year. But right now, this team is dialed in, and honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if Alex Bowman challenged for the win in Sunday’s race at Texas. He really has only one good finish here, and it was this race last season–Bowman came home 5th–but Alex ranks 5th in terms of fastest laps on low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this year, and 4th-best in laps led. The #88 Chevrolet is fresh off of a 3rd-place finish at Kansas and has ended up 9th or better in seven of the last nine races overall. Is this a risky pick considering Bowman starts 5th? Absolutely, but I’m in the mood to gamble, and Bowman could put up a huge Slingshot score on Sunday. By the way, the #88 Chevrolet is tied for 5th-best in the series when it comes to Green Flag Speed on the low-wear 1.5-mile tracks this year.
Ryan Preece ($5,900) – I’ll preface this pick by saying that Ryan Preece absolutely sucks on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. His average finish of 29.4 is worse than everyone except for Brennan Poole, Quin Houff, and the back marker drivers. At the low-wear 1.5-milers, his average finish is somehow worse, sitting at 30.5. But you have to take these numbers at more than face value. Typically, Preece has a car with the speed to finish at or around the top half of the field. Hell, his average Green Flag Speed ranking on low-wear 1.5-milers is 22.6, which is the same as John Hunter Nemechek (who has an average finish of 21.0). If, and it’s a big if, Preece can stay out of trouble and finish this race on Sunday, he could put up 60+ fantasy points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. That’d be huge for his low salary. I’m rolling the dice here and using the extra cap room up top in hopes that Preece can just keep it together on Sunday.