The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. Sunday's race will be the third trip to a mile-and-a-half oval so far this season, and while the reduced-horsepower package will again be in play, the races at Atlanta and Las Vegas should calm any concerns about the new rules creating chaos.
Big names from the top teams are still dominating, and although Team Penske has moved ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing in the Ford pecking order for now, you can still count on guys like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick to deliver strong results on pretty much a weekly basis.
With that in mind, I'll probably be building a lot of two-dominator lineups for Sunday's race. With 500 miles on tap, there is a good chance that at least a couple of drivers will lead a significant number of laps. I'll also try to target some mid-priced drivers from the bigger teams who could surprise. Last year for example, Erik Jones led 64 laps in the March race at Texas, and Ryan Blaney led 40 laps in the fall.
Qualifying can always have a big impact on which drivers are must-own options and which lineup strategies are going to be the most effective. This weekend, we also have the new rules in effect, so any driver who doesn't make a lap will end up starting in the back.
Make sure to check back before the race for updated DFS picks and lineup combinations, but before the cars hit the track for practice and qualifying, here is a closer look at the drivers that I'm interested in for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch ($12,200)
We are six races into the season, and Busch boasts a 2.7 average finish and hasn’t finished worse than sixth. He should have no problem staying hot this weekend a Texas where he led 116 laps and picked up the win last March. Busch is a three-time winner here for his career, and he has finished in the Top 5 in six of his last nine starts. Stay on the Busch bandwagon.
Martin Truex Jr. ($11,300)
A win at Texas has eluded Truex, but he does have seven Top 10s in the last eight races here. He’s also led plenty of laps at the track, leading at least 49 laps in four of his last six starts. During that same span, he has recorded at least 20 fastest laps five times. Truex should be one of the best sources of dominator points this weekend.
Kevin Harvick ($10,700)
Although he has yet to find victory lane in 2019, I still think Harvick could be a little underpriced this weekend. He has nine straight Top 10s at Texas, and he has two wins and three runner-up efforts in that span. More importantly, Harvick has led more than 30 laps in four straight starts here, leading more than 70 laps three times. He finished second and first in the two trips to Texas last year, leading a combined 264 laps.
Difference Makers and Value Plays
Ryan Blaney ($10,200)
Blaney has been fast all year, and he brings a three-race streak of Top 5 finishes into one of his best tracks. He has finished sixth or better in his last three starts at Texas, leading 40 laps and finishing second in the fall race last year. Don’t be surprised if he provides a decent amount of dominator points Sunday.
Chase Elliott ($8,600)
After a runner-up effort at Martinsville last weekend, I was expecting to see Elliott’s salary jump a lot more. He has a 7.2 average finish in six starts at Texas, and he has never finished worse than 11th at the track. Elliott has also led laps in four of his six starts here, recording fastest laps in all six. He could be the biggest bargain on the board.
Erik Jones ($8,200)
He has been a Top 10 machine at the 1.5-mile tracks dating back to last year, and Texas has been one of his strongest tracks. Jones has finished 12th or better in four of his five starts here, finishing fourth in both races last year while leading 64 laps in the spring. He looks like one of the best value on the board this weekend.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,600)
Stenhouse is coming off his worst performance of the season, but he should be more in his element this weekend at Texas. He has finished 16th or better in five of his last six starts here, finishing 11th in the fall race last year. Stenhouse also showed a ton of speed at Las Vegas a few weeks back, leading some laps and finishing sixth. I like his upside at this price.
Alex Bowman ($7,100)
Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t been making much noise as a group, but Bowman has managed to crack the Top 15 in both of the races at 1.5-mile ovals, finishing 11th at Las Vegas. This isn’t a bad price for a driver who could challenge for a Top 10, especially if he ends up starting closer to the middle of the pack.
Paul Menard ($6,600)
Menard held his own at the mile-and-a-half tracks last season, and he has quietly picked up where he left off, cracking the Top 15 at both Atlanta and Las Vegas. Some place differential upside would go a long way to boosting his value, but he should eclipse 20 fantasy points on finishing position alone. I like his potential as a cheaper play in cash games.
Chris Buescher ($6,400)
He struggled a bit at Martinsville, but Buescher still came away with a 21st-place finish. He has a 16.0 average finish in the five races since Daytona, and he finished ninth and 18th in the two races at 1.5-mile tracks. Buescher delivered a Top 15 at Texas last spring, and he has five straight finishes of 23rd or better here. This is a solid price for a guy with a great shot at a Top 20 finish, especially if he starts in the back half of the field.
Michael McDowell ($5,700)
It has been a rough start to the year for McDowell, but he has enjoyed some success at Texas in the past. He finished 14th in the spring race here last season, and he has finished 23rd or better in four of his last five starts at the track. McDowell will need to have the place differential category working in his favor, but I’ll look his way for cap relief if he starts outside the Top 25.