The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series championship has three races remaining before a winner is crowded. The circuit heads to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s race, a track which has been dominated by Chevrolet in recent seasons. However, in the spring run it was Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch ($10,200) steering his No. 18 Toyota to Victory Lane, giving that manufacturer its first Texas checkered flag in 11 races dating back to Nov. 2010.
Busch has been strong at Texas over his past five starts, posting a 108.9 Driver Rating with 45 laps led and a sparkling 3.0 Average-Finish Position (AFP) while running 77.9 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Busch started from the 15th position in the Texas spring race and was a DFS beast, picking up a ton of Place Differential points while also leading 34 laps and grabbing the win. He has been very reliable over the years in Texas, winning twice while posting 10 Top 5s in 21 career starts, good for a 11.9 AFP and zero DNFs.
(DraftKings.com salaries in parentheses)
Busch’s teammate Carl Edwards ($8,900) was on the pole in the spring race at Texas, but he tumbled to a still respectable seventh-place showing. Edwards has managed a 97.9 Driver Rating over the past five stops in Fort Worth, leading 124 laps and posting a 9.0 AFP. He has three victories and 12 Top 10s among his 23 career starts and a healthy amount of laps led, so Edwards is a solid No. 3 Fantasy driver at a mid-tier price.
Denny Hamlin ($8,800) has also worn the cowboy hat and popped the celebratory six shooters in Victory Lane on two occasions, although Texas hasn’t been kind to him in recent seasons. He ranks outside of the Top 10 in Driver Rating over the past five starts, but still checks in fourth among active drivers with at least two starts at the track with a 12.1 AFP. He has finished outside of the Top 20 on just two occasions, and 10 of his 21 career starts in Texas have been Top 10 or better. Like Edwards, he is a tremendous middle of the roster Fantasy option at a cap-friendly price.
JGR’s Matt Kenseth ($9,800) is also among the top options in Texas thanks to his 9.5 AFP in 27 career starts, second only to Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson ($10,800) among drivers with at least two starts at the track. Kenseth has recorded a pair of victories in Texas while bringing it home with a Top 5 finish in 13 of his 27 starts. His 854 laps led is also second just behind Johnson, and only three of Kenseth’s finishes have been outside of the Top 20.
Speaking of Johnson, he leads all drivers with six career wins in Texas, double that of his nearest competition (Edwards, 3). In 26 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway, the No. 48 has raced to 14 Top 5s, 20 Top 10s and 1,023 laps led with an 8.3 AFP. He is showing no signs of slowing down, either, leading everyone with a 112.9 Driver Rating over his past five appearances at the track while leading 325 laps. Johnson has a 6.4 AFP while running 79.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 during the past five Texas starts, making him a solid Fantasy play across all formats yet again.
Johnson’s teammate Chase Elliott ($9,200) debuted with a fifth-place showing in his first-career Cup race at Texas in the spring, posting a 94.9 Driver Rating despite leading just one lap. He ran 81.1 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 and looked very comfortable. Elliott is a slam-dunk C-list driver option in Yahoo! Sports if you have not yet exhausted his available starts. Hendrick’s Kasey Kahne ($8,400) has one win at Texas in his career, and one-third of his 24 career starts have resulted in a Top 10 finish while posting a respectable 17.8 AFP. As a mid-tier option or No. 4 driver, he isn’t a bad start.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick ($10,900) remains alive and well for a championship, and Texas is a good place to keep things trending in the right direction. He has a 102.2 Driver Rating over his past five starts at the track, leading 111 laps while running 78.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He has never won in Texas, but he has been very close with six Top 5s and 15 Top 10s among his 27 career starts. Teammate Kurt Busch ($8,600) is also still in the hunt for a title this season, and Texas has been good to him over the years. He has a win and 15 Top 10s in 27 career starts with a respectable 15.3 AFP, good for 11th among all active drivers with at least two starts.
The Penske Racing drivers will also be popular Fantasy selections this weekend. Brad Keselowski ($9,600) is no longer in the Chase, but he’d love to finish up strong and build toward next season. He is second in Driver Rating at 112.0 over the past five starts in Texas, leading all drivers with 446 laps led. Teammate Joey Logano ($9,400) has led 127 laps over the past five starts, posting six Top 5s in 16 career starts with a 17.5 AFP. One of those Top 5s came in the spring when Logano brought it home third. A Ford one-two combination isn’t a bad starting point for one of your lineups in GPPs.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson ($9,100) has led just six laps (all last week) over his past seven starts, as it appears he has hit the wall after a magical run in late August and early September. Things do not figure to turn around in Texas, as Larson has managed just one Top 5, two Top 10s and a subpar 18.5 AFP in six career starts while failing to lead a lap. Larson managed a rather middling 14th-place in the spring in Texas. He also has one DNF in his brief Cup career at Texas. Larson is a higher-priced driver you’ll want to fade this weekend.
Larson’s teammate Jamie McMurray ($8,100) is a better Fantasy play in Texas. Jamie Mac posted a 13th-place finish in the spring race, and he has been Top 20 in three of his past four, and six of the past eight races. McMurray looks to build on the momentum of an eighth-place showing in Martinsville last weekend. If McMurray hits his averages at Texas, he’ll be a solid mid-tier Fantasy option, as he has nine Top 10s and 18 Top 20s with a solid 16.8 AFP over 25 career starts.
To a lesser degree, Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman ($7,800) is also a fade candidate. He has a 14.0 AFP over his past three races, which isn’t terrible, but he hasn’t led a lap during the span. Newman was 17th in the spring Texas run, which is pretty much what you can expect from him. He has just five Top 10 showings over his 26 career starts at the track, leading just 99 laps while turning in an 18.7 AFP. There are much better options to be had at cheaper salaries in DFS.
At $7,000, Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle ($7,000) is a decent No. 5 driver option in DraftKings. Biffle has a pair of checkered flags in 25 career starts while 13 of his runs have resulted in a Top 10 finish. Biffle has 733 career laps led with a respectable 15.8 AFP. He is a solid contrarian play, too, as many DFS owners will be scared off by his 39th-place showing in the spring race. However, he was wrecked due to contact from Kahne and not by his own doing, so keep that in mind and don’t just look at the overall result.
RCR’s Paul Menard ($6,600) is your best bet among the No. 6 drivers if you need to save salary. He has three Top 10s and 12 Top 20s in 20 career Texas starts with a 20.8 AFP. Trevor Bayne ($6,700) also led 12 laps in the spring race and finished a respectable 15th, his seventh Top 20 in 12 career starts at the track. If you’re really in a salary pinch then German Racing’s Casey Mears ($6,000) might be the way to go. He outproduced salary expectations with a 21st-place run at Martinsville, and he has two Top 5s, four Top 10s and seven Top 20s with a 21.0 AFP in 24 career Texas starts.
NASCAR FANTASY LINEUPS FOR TEXAS
|No.||Driver||DraftKings Salary||No.||Driver||Fantasy Live Salary||No.||Yahoo! Sports Driver|
|1||Jimmie Johnson||$10,800||1||Denny Hamlin||$26.75||1||Jimmie Johnson|
|2||Matt Kenseth||$9,800||2||Matt Kenseth||$26.50||2||Carl Edwards|
|3||Carl Edwards||$8,900||3||Jimmie Johnson||$26.25||3||Martin Truex Jr.|
|4||Denny Hamlin||$8,800||4||Chris Buescher||$10.50||4||Chase Elliott|
|5||Casey Mears||$6,000||5||Casey Mears||$8.50|