RaceDayScore NASCAR: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400

Location: Joliet, Ill.
Course: Chicagoland Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 267

Race Preview

Denny Hamlin and the rest of the Joe Gibbs Racing teams thoroughly dominated last weeks visit to Richmond International Raceway. The win for Hamlin came as a result of impeccable work on pit road with restarts being executed to precision. Those small differences can make or break a race, and Hamlin used those advantages to their fullest to claim his third win of the season. Last week's race finalized the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and this week's race at Chicagoland Speedway kicks off the first round of the elimination format. Some drivers' tempers are simmering after last week's short-track affair, and those pressures will likely rise as the pressure to perform in the final 10 races of the season continues to ratchet upward.

Key Stats at Chicagoland Speedway

Number of previous races: 15
Winners from pole: 1
Winners from top-5 starters: 1
Winners from top-10 starters: 5
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 5
Fastest race: 145.138 mph

Last 10 Chicagoland Winners

2015 - Denny Hamlin
2014 - Brad Keselowski
2013 - Matt Kenseth
2012 - Brad Keselowski
2011 - Tony Stewart
2010 - David Reutimann
2009 - Mark Martin
2008 - Kyle Busch
2007 - Tony Stewart
2006 - Jeff Gordon

Chicagoland Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval similar in nature to Kansas, Kentucky and Las Vegas. However, the unique feature of the speedway is where the race winners tend to start. The race has only been won from pole once in 15 editions. Just one winner started inside the top 10 in the last five races, and three of the last five winners started outside of the top 20. Strategy, tire management and clean work on pit road will be factors in Sunday's outcome. As we saw in Richmond, being mistake-free on pit road and successfully navigating late-race restarts can seal a victory. The Joe Gibbs Toyota's have been the class of the field so far in 2016 and their rivals will need to make a step forward to contend directly with them this week if they want to maintain a realistic hope of beating them to the championship.

RACE DAY SCORE VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $12,700
Kyle Busch - $11,800
Kevin Harvick - $11,800

Tier 2 Values

Denny Hamlin - $10,900
Chase Elliott - $10,800
Kasey Kahne - $10,700
Jamie McMurray - $10,300

Tier 3 Values

Trevor Bayne - $9,900
Greg Biffle - $9,700
Austin Dillon - $9,600
Aric Almirola - $9,300

Long-Shot Values

Casey Mears - $8,600
Chris Buescher - $8,400
Alex Bowman - $7,800

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $12,700
Kyle Busch - $11,800
Jimmie Johnson - $11,300
Tony Stewart - $10,600
Joey Gase - $6,800
Josh Wise - $6,700

In order to add Keselowski to the lower-risk lineup we give up a bit of flexibility in the final driver selections. Keselowski may be worth that play, though. He has won twice at Chicago and is on a run of five consecutive top-10s at the track. Kyle Busch backs him up in this option as well. With one Chicago win and four consecutive top-10s at the track, the pair makes a formidable selection. Next up is Johnson who carries some risk. The Hendrick Motorsports driver isn't having the best luck recently but has the potential to turn things around. He finished 11th at Chicago last season and has seven top-fives from 14 starts at the circuit. Additionally, Stewart has let his temper get the better of him the past two races. Since this race has Chase implications, fantasy owners should safely assume that issue is in the past. He is a three-time Chicago winner. Gase and Wise are where this lineup makes room for its top selections. Gase has only visited the circuit once but will make the starting field, while Wise has improved upon his starting position to his finish in four of the last five races.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $11,500
Joey Logano - $11,300
Denny Hamlin - $10,900
Trevor Bayne - $9,900
Brian Scott - $8,600
Alex Bowman - $7,800

Larson heads the higher-risk lineup option this week on the heels of consecutive top-five finishes since his breakthrough win at Michigan. Logano has been extremely competitive in race situations despite not always having the best practice or qualifying efforts. He started from pole in Chicago in 2013 and has three top-10s from the last four races there. The hottest driver on the circuit right now may be Hamlin. He has two wins in the last five races and won this race from the 29th starting position last season. Bayne returned to the top 15 last week in Richmond and should back that up with a similar performance this week. Scott has only raced in Chicago once in the Sprint Cup, but he was scratching around the edges of a top-20 finish in that race. Finally, Bowman returns to the wheel of the No. 88, in which the last time he surprised a lot of people with his pace. His best Chicago finish was a 35th-place run in 2014 but he should easily surpass that mark this Sunday.

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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