NASCAR DFS: Auto Club 400 DraftKings Lineups Plays

Brian Polking

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is visiting Auto Club Speedway this weekend, and now that the field is set and the practices are in the books, it's time to set your NASCAR DFS lineups and wrap up the West Coast swing by winning some cash at DraftKings.

Typically, the recipe for success at a race at a two-mile track like Sunday's Auto Club 400 includes a couple of dominators, some upside mid-priced plays and a cheaper play or two. However, things got a lot more interesting after more than a dozen drivers failed to pass pre-qualifying technical inspection, putting a lot of quality drivers starting deep in the field.

As a result, I think you need to switch up your strategy a bit when it comes to building lineups. You certainly can't ignore the dominator categories, but I do think one-dominator lineups could be the way to go. With so many drivers capable of capitalizing on their upside in the place differential category, a lot of my lineups will feature one driver starting up front and five drivers starting in the back.

I will still do a couple of two-dominator lineups. After all, Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. both led over 70 laps here last year. However, most of the drivers starting in the middle of pack are going to be irrelevant.

My lineups will consist almost exclusively of drivers starting in the Top 5 and drivers starting 25th or worse. Kevin Harvick, who will start 10th, will probably be my only exception.

Check out all my top DFS plays for Sunday's Auto Club 400, and make sure to get your lineups locked in at DraftKings.

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Must Own Drivers

Kevin Harvick ($11,500)

He looked like he was going to power to the pole, but he slipped up in the final round of qualifying and will roll off 10th. Still, Harvick was unbelievably fast in practice as he goes for his fourth straight win of the season. He led 142 laps on his way to a win here in 2016, and while he isn't starting at the front, Harvick still looks like one of the frontrunners to win the dominator categories.

Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800)

Truex was a force at the two-mile tracks last year, finishing sixth or better in all three races and leading at least 57 laps in each of them. After grabbing the pole for Sunday's race, he in perfect position to pile up another chunk of dominator points and potentially finish as the top scorer. A lineup of Truex and a bunch of guys starting in the back makes a lot of sense.

Chase Elliott ($9,700)

Of all the drivers who failed to make a qualifying run, Elliott has the highest upside. He starts 31st, but in six starts at two-mile tracks, he has never finished outside the Top 10, and he has finished second three times. He popped in the Top 5 in practice Saturday and could top 60 fantasy points on finishing position and place differential points alone.

Cash Plays

Kyle Larson ($10,000)

He has been the man to beat at two-mile tracks, winning four straight dating back t0 2016. Larson also led the most laps in the three races at two-mile tracks last year, leading a race-high 110 in his win at Auto Club. Starting third with a car that ranked in the Top 5 in practice, Larson is positioned for another big performance. Pair him with Martin Truex Jr. or Kevin Harvick or make Larson the lone dominator in a lineup.

Denny Hamlin ($9,300)

Hamlin has been showing Top 5 speed all season, and that hasn't changed this weekend. However, he has to start 25th because he didn't pass pre-qualifying inspection, so he has a high floor and plenty of upside in the place differential category. He is an ideal option for cash games.

Aric Almirola ($8,500)

Almirola is firing on all cylinders with Stewart-Haas Racing and hasn't finished worse than 13th this year. He will have to start 27th after failing to qualify, but he looks like a Top 10 option based on practice times. Expect a strong score for a midrange price.

Clint Bowyer ($8,000)

The two-mile tracks were among his best last year, and Bowyer finished third at Auto Club in 2017. He showed Top 10 muscle in practice Saturday, but after the qualifying fiasco, he is starting 26th. This is a great price for a driver who is in perfect position to exploit the differential category.

Daniel Suarez ($7,000)

It has been a bit of an uneven start for Suarez, but he is coming off a Top 10 run at ISM, and he finished seventh in his Auto Club debut last year. More importantly, he starts 30th after not getting on the track for qualifying Friday. He has nothing but upside, and he is an absolute steal at this price.

Kasey Kahne ($6,100)

Kahne is struggling with Leavine Family Racing, but he has still been able to challenge for Top 20 finishes. Starting 34th, he is all but a lock to gain points in the differential category, and he has a safe, solid floor for practically the price of a punt play. He is my preferred source of cap relief in cash games.

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GPP Plays

Kyle Busch ($10,300)

Busch has an up-and-down record at the two-mile tracks, but he also has a couple of wins at Auto Club recently and has been one of the few drivers that has been able to hang with Kevin Harvick to start the year. With Busch starting on the front row, he is in the mix to win the dominator categories. If you are going against Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Larson, Busch should be your pivot.

Jimmie Johnson ($9,000)

This is a lot of money for a driver who is struggling to finish in the Top 15, but how often does Johnson start outside the Top 30? Even if he just has another decent run, he can post a solid score through place differential. Meanwhile, the five-time Auto Club winner could always break out of his slump. I think you will want a little exposure just in case he has a big day.

Alex Bowman ($7,600)

He is still a little pricier than I'd like, but after qualifying 28th, Bowman could be worth the money. He has finished in the Top 20 in every race this season, and he has shown Top 15 potential in most. Bowman's practice times point to a finish in the top half of the field, and he could be an effective pivot to either Clint Bowyer and Daniel Saurez.

William Byron ($6,600)

He finally had something go his way at ISM last weekend, and while I still think Byron has plenty of learning to do, I also think he's a better than his 29th-place starting spot. I think he can at least salvage a mid-pack finish, and for this price, the rookie has enough upside for me to take a chance on him.

A.J. Allmendinger ($6,000)

Allmendinger hasn't shown a lot of speed this year, but he does have a decent resume at Auto Club. He has finished 17th or better in four of his last five starts here, and he has gained at least seven spots three times in that span. Starting 32nd, he has plenty of upside in the differential category. He's a cheap lottery ticket.

Cole Whitt ($5,200)

He will start dead last after failing to make a qualifying lap, and if you are looking for a punt play this weekend, you should take a chance on Whitt. He finished 28th at Atlanta and Las Vegas in his two Cup starts this year, so he will probably earn a few points in the differential category. At worst, he won't cost you any points.

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