DraftKings NASCAR: Auto Club 400

DraftKings NASCAR: Auto Club 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Auto Club 400

Location: Fontana, Calif.
Course: Auto Club Speedway
Format: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval
Laps: 200

Race Preview

Ryan Newman leveraged a late restart and clever pit strategy to sneak in a much-needed victory last week in Phoenix. The win came against the momentum of Kyle Busch who appeared to be cruising to his first win of 2017 after a difficult start to the season. Busch had dispensed of early leaders Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, but failed to come off of pit road with the lead on the final stop. The move earned Newman a chance at victory, which was sealed when Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made slight contact on the return to green. Busch should be optimistic, though. This week the series heads to Auto Club Speedway where horsepower will be paramount to having a good afternoon, and Busch has found success in the past. Busch has three wins at the track, but will have to contend with Ford and Chevrolet as both manufacturers continue to deliver more power than last season. Penske Racing remained one of the top contenders last week, while newcomers Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez are also making their presence felt. Kyle Larson heads into the weekend with the lead in points after getting the season off to a quick start. A victory for him and the team doesn't seem too far off, and the same is true for Chase Elliott. This week's race in Fontana promises to be another difficult one for fantasy players to predict.

Key Stats at Auto Club Speedway

Number of previous races: 27
Winners from pole: 1
Winners from top-5 starters: 9
Winners from top-10 starters: 14
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 160.166 mph

Last 10 California Winners

2016 - Jimmie Johnson
2015 - Brad Keselowski
2014 - Kyle Busch
2013 - Kyle Busch
2012 - Tony Stewart
2011 - Kevin Harvick
2010 fall - Tony Stewart
2010 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2009 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2009 spring - Matt Kenseth

California's wide turns allow drivers to move up and down the track as handling changes throughout a fuel run. It also features long straights, and this year's low-downforce rules package means speeds heading into the turns will be faster than in the past. Like last week in Phoenix, teams will have to carefully monitor tire wear. Weekend temperatures at the track are not expected to hit the desert highs of last week, which could help lessen demand on tires. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see tire failures as teams push the envelope of durability in an effort to gain an advantage. Auto Club Speedway will not test brakes like Phoenix did, but making the correct chassis adjustments on pit road throughout the 200 laps could be the difference in being able to remain in the hunt for a win. Teams will work to find the balance in the middle of each turn that gives them the greatest momentum down the straights, and the track's long pit road could help speeding penalties make headlines yet again. Qualifying at the track isn't as important as some others on the schedule, and two of the last three winners have started outside of the top 10. Additionally, no driver has won starting from the front row at the track since Jimmie Johnson won from pole in 2008.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $10,800
Kyle Busch - $10,500
Joey Logan- $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Chase Elliott - $9,600
Kyle Larson - $9,100
Matt Kenseth - $8,900

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Denny Hamlin - $8,500
Clint Bowyer - $7,800
Erik Jones - $7,700
Jamie McMurray - $7,500

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000
David Ragan - $6,400
Ty Dillon - $6,300

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,300
Chase Elliott - $9,600
Matt Kenseth - $8,900
Jamie McMurray - $7,500
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000
Danica Patrick - $6,200

The lower-risk lineup for California contains some of the drivers who have been contenders in every race so far this season. Logano got off to a great start before crashing late last week at Phoenix. That was his first finish outside of the top 10 in 2017, but he started the race on pole. He and the rest of the Ford contingent should be fast again this week. He finished fourth at the track last season. Elliott led 106 laps in Phoenix before fading to 12th. He led one lap at Auto Club Speedway last year before finishing an impressive sixth. His speed so far this year implies he should be a contender every week. Another driver who walked away from Phoenix unfulfilled was Kenseth. Three California wins should boost his confidence this week, however. He led laps in each of the last four races at this circuit. McMurray is poised for an exciting season. He already has two top-10s but has been at the sharp end of the field at every track thus far. He finished 10th here last season, which means he could be even more competitive this time around. Stenhouse Jr. grabbed his first top-five of the season last week and could replicate that again this week since he finished fifth here last season. Patrick has been a consistent mid-pack runner this season, which makes her a good choice to finish the roster. She has two top-20 finishes at this track from four career races.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,500
Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,700
Kurt Busch - $8,200
Paul Menard - $6,800
Chris Buescher - $5,900

Last week's finish was another tough pill for Kyle Busch to swallow. He was cruising to the win when circumstances conspired against him. He will be even more determined to win this week, and with three California victories on his resume it would be hard to imagine him not being a contender. In fact, he has four top-five California finishes in the last five races. Johnson won this race last season. He picked up his first top-10 last week, and that should give fantasy players confidence in him again this week. Earnhardt is another slight risk. He has two top-five starts this season, but hasn't finished in the top 10. He finished 14th last week in Phoenix and is starting to get back into the groove after his return. Hendrick Motorsports should be a threat this week, but if he isn't, fantasy players may want to consider Kahne instead. Kurt Busch has faded a bit since winning at Daytona. Phoenix marked his second consecutive finish outside of the top 20 and that is concerning. His Ford should have pace to contend at this track, however. He won here in 2003 and started from pole in 2015 before finishing third. If Paul Menard shows pace in practice he should be a decent selection. He finished in the top 15 here in the last four races and should be expected to do so again. Another option for fantasy players in this position would be Almirola, though. Finally, Buescher is with a more competitive team this season. His two career California starts haven't been anything special, but he led a lap last week in Phoenix and some clever strategy could move him up the finishing order. I would also consider Cassill in this position.

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 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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