What a crazy weekend this has been so far in Texas! Practice one saw Denny Hamlin spin out on the second lap of practice. Kyle Busch scrubbed the outside wall and elected not to qualify. Eric Jones and Chase Elliott had two of the fastest cars in practice one, then both drivers crashed into the outside wall and were forced to move into backup cars. Finally, seven very solid cars failed to qualify, leaving tons of potential for them to make their way through the field. All in all, what we learned from day one at Texas was that the young drivers are willing to take big risks on a treacherous race track. Practice two and three are going to provide us with the data we need to make our picks.
These are the guys that are the cornerstone of your roster. Chances are you can only afford one so you have to choose wisely! Who will have the fastest laps, most laps led, and lead the last lap? That’s your main concern with this group.
Jimmie Johnson: Hendrick Motorsports showed a ton of speed in both practices yesterday. Final practice was led by Jimmie Johnson. This track is completely different on each end and the surface is super slick. If I had to pick one driver who is best suited to win on a slick track I would bet the house on JJ. Johnson spun in qualifying and his tires were flat spotted so he only mustered a 24th place starting position. He’ll gain position points as well as fastest laps and laps led.
Kyle Larson: Larson has shown speed all weekend long. He was 6th in practice one, 2nd in practice two, and 3rd in practice three. Larson missed qualifying as he was delayed getting through inspection. He’ll start 32nd. Kyle Larson has excellent car control and, much like Jimmie Johnson, loves a slick track. I expect to see Larson and JJ competing for the win.
Kyle Busch: Kyle Busch had the fastest 10 lap average during yesterday’s practices. He has a very consistent car which is going to be key in today’s race. I don’t think he will compete for the win but I think he’ll run up front. He’ll score a ton of points as he starts 34th due to damage sustained in practice one.
The Role Players
These drivers are the bulk of your line up. The mid range drivers are the ones who are going to win you your league. The best strategy with these guys are to pick the drivers who are starting back in the pack but you know they don’t belong there and are unlikely to finish there. Every car they pass is worth valuable points to your overall total.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: The Axalta crew have worked tirelessly all weekend long to get this car dialed in. Earnhardt’s car was lightning fast in yesterday’s practices. In Practice two he was 4th. Practice three saw Dale finish 7th fastest. I think Dale Jr. will break his bad race streak and could even contend for the win today. Dale failed to qualify so he’ll be starting 37th.
Erik Jones: I continue to be impressed by Jones’ performance. He keeps the car safe and makes his way through the field without taking any massive risks. Jones failed to qualify and will start 36th. There is huge potential in selecting Erik Jones this weekend.
AJ Allmendinger: “The Dinger” has shown promising speed in practice. He ran 7th fastest in practice tw0. I don’t necessarily like his 16th place starting spot, but AJ should be good for a few points. The two varying ends of the track play right in to AJ’s road racing strength.
The Value Drivers
These are the guys who are below $18. They help you afford the Contender and give you breathing room with your Role Players. These drivers still play a huge role and can make the difference in a solid points day vs. a victory.
Aric Almirola: Aric has been extremely fast this weekend. He was 9th fastest in practice two, and 4th fastest in practice three. With an 18th place starting spot, Almirola should move through the field and potentially earn a top 10 finish.
Chris Buescher: Buescher has shown decent speed all weekend long. He was 21st fastest in practice two, and 17th fastest in practice three. He only costs $9 and he’s starting 38th in todays race. He’s the perfect filler on the low end of your roster and should have a positive points day.
Who are your picks this week? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me your lineup.