DraftKings NASCAR: AAA Texas 500
DraftKings NASCAR: AAA Texas 500

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

AAA Texas 500

Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Course: Texas Motor Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile quad-pval
Laps: 334

Race Preview

If the stress levels weren't already high, last week's race at Martinsville Speedway certainly put them there. Kyle Busch snuck through the chaos that permeated the final laps to become the first to book his spot among the final four championship contenders at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race looked as though it was Brad Keselowski's to lose, when his teammate brought out a late caution, giving Chase Elliott the opportunity to move back into the top spot. He was deposed shortly thereafter by Denny Hamlin, who then was moved out of the way by Busch. The finishing order means Elliott went from a strong playoff standing to bottom of the heap and 27 points out of the top four. Hamlin was heavily criticized for his part in the matter, while fellow championship contenders Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick had their own post-race matters to settle. Skating through to a runner-up finish, while making no obvious enemies in the process, was Martin Truex Jr. He could be the driver to watch this week as the series faces down its final three races of the year.

Key Stats at Texas Motor Speedway

Number of previous races: 33
Winners from pole: 3
Winners from top-5 starters: 19
Winners from top-10 starters: 25
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 5
Fastest race: 160.577 mph

Last 10 Texas Winners

2017 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2016 fall - Carl Edwards
2016 spring - Kyle Busch
2015 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2015 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2014 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2014 spring - Joey Logano
2013 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2013 spring - Kyle Busch
2012 fall - Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson has been the man to beat at Texas in recent history. He leads the pack with an average finish of 3.6 in the last five races at the circuit, but has not had the same command of other tracks this year. The high banks and high speeds of the 1.5-mile ovals have favored Truex this season. He scored wins at Charlotte and Atlanta this year, which are the ovals most similar to this week's track. A Toyota horsepower advantage has helped his cause. That could be the case again this week at the track where handling and horsepower are the two main driving factors of success. However, Truex's eighth-place finish here from earlier in the year was the highest-placed Toyota in the pack. Johnson walked away with the victory, but Ford may have been the strongest. Blaney led 149 laps that day, while Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick combined to lead another 115 of the 334 laps run. Fantasy owners should keep in mind that two races later at Richmond Raceway was where Ford's momentum took a turn for the worse. Pay close attention to early practice and qualifying pace this week. Drivers unloading quickly early in the weekend are typically the most competitive on circuits like this come race day.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $11,000
Kyle Busch - $10,600
Brad Keselowski - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kevin Harvick - $9,800
Jimmie Johnson - $9,600
Chase Elliott - $9,100
Denny Hamlin - $8,800
Ryan Blaney - $8,500

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $7,900
Austin Dillon - $7,700
Daniel Suarez - $7,300
Trevor Bayne - $7,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Chris Buescher - $6,600
Aric Almirola - $6,200
David Ragan - $5,900
Cole Whitt - $5,200

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $11,000
Brad Keselowski - $10,000
Erik Jones - $8,000
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $7,900
Ty Dillon - $6,900
Aric Almirola - $6,200

Fantasy owners should be expecting Truex to win this week's race based on recent trends. He was also in the top five after first practice on Friday. The fact that he has been the king of 1.5-mile ovals this season only reinforces that suspicion. Keselowski and Ford have taken large steps forward versus the Toyota favorites late in the season, and his sixth-place finish at Texas earlier this year puts him in good position to add to rosters this time around. Despite not finishing inside the top 10 in either of his two Cup visits to Texas, Jones still makes a good fantasy selection this week. His momentum has waned since finishing 12th at Dover, but his history would suggest he is entirely capable of a top-15 or better finish this week if he can overcome the slump. Texas has been a very good venue for Earnhardt, and that makes him an easy choice at this week's price. His average finish from the last four races at the track is fourth, and he carries a streak of five consecutive Texas top-10 finishes into this race. Dillon and Almirola round out the roster with both having the potential to outperform. Almirola just announced his 2018 plans to move to Stewart-Haas Racing and Dillon is a confident top-20 option this week.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Jimmie Johnson - $9,600
Chase Elliott - $9,100
Matt Kenseth - $8,900
Chris Buescher - $6,600
Cole Whitt - $5,200

Busch's win last week at Martinsville gives him breathing room at Texas, but he is still expected to be a challenger for Sunday's victory. He has two track wins and hasn't finished outside of the top 15 here since 2011. Johnson's results may not be what we are used to seeing at this point in the season, but his history at Texas is difficult to ignore. He won the spring race and has won four of the last six Texas races, but started the weekend with mechanical issues that he'll have to overcome. His teammate Elliott appears more and more likely to get his long-awaited series victory, and with a top-10 finish in each of the three Texas races he has had in this series, there is no reason to think it couldn't come on Sunday especially considering his quick speed so far this weekend. Kenseth's ninth-place finish last week should give him a boost this week. He finished 16th here in the spring but has two track victories and should deliver a top-10. Buescher has had a significant improvement in results since joining Front Row Motorsports for 2017. He finished 21st in his last two Texas races, and this is the week fantasy owners should see him better those results. To close out the higher-risk option, we add Whitt. Whitt isn't a driver fantasy owners would count on for top-15s or even top-20s, but his consistency in staying in the race and moving forward banks valuable points for fantasy players in this format, which makes him a good option when selecting drivers this deep in the field.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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