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DraftKings NASCAR: Auto Club 400

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.

Auto Club 400

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

Race Preview

Can anyone stop Kevin Harvick? The Stewart-Haas Racing driver grabbed the 2018 season by the scruff of the neck and has fired off three consecutive victories in the first four races. While his win at Phoenix was nowhere near as dominant as the prior week in Las Vegas, it was still a significant blow to the rest of the garage. The win last week puts any competitor hopes of a post-penalty slump firmly behind him. However, Phoenix did show signs of progress for other contenders. Kyle Busch had another top-shelf performance, despite coming home second for the second week in a row. He said after the race that being shut out of Victory Lane so far is starting to annoy him, too. That could mean a tenacity coming from the No. 18 team that will be difficult to fend off. Hendrick Motorsports also seemed to regain some of its footing. Chase Elliott was a fixture in the top five all afternoon. Kyle Larson and his Chevrolet also showed strength early. This group (including Denny Hamlin) appears most likely to knock Harvick from his perch, and their opportunity comes this week on the wide, low-banked 2.0-mile oval of Auto Club Speedway.

Key Stats at Auto Club Speedway

Number of previous races: 28
Winners from pole: 2
Winners from top-5 starters: 10
Winners from top-10 starters: 15
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 160.166 mph

Last 10 Auto Club Speedway Winners

2017 - Kyle Larson
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

Auto Club Speedway, like its sister track Michigan International Speedway, tends to produce exciting races. The low banking and long straights place a premium on horsepower, and the wide turns allow for plenty of lines through the turns. That combination opens the door to side-by-side racing and plenty of passing. Teams will search for maximum grip through the middle of the turns, as they want to maximize the lap time spent on full throttle down Fontana's long straights. Tires can take a beating as crews take their equipment right up to the edge of failure. Right-front tire failures aren’t uncommon and will spell the end of someone's afternoon if he experiences one. Additionally, the amount of time spent on full-throttle stresses engines. Preserving equipment throughout a long fuel run to make passes at the end of the race can make the difference between winning and fading at the end. Track position will be a factor as cautions play out, but four-tire stops will be the favorite option for most of the field.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $11,500
Kyle Busch - $10,300
Kyle Larson - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Chase Elliott - $9,700
Denny Hamlin - $9,300
Ryan Blaney - $8,800
Aric Almirola - $8,500

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Clint Bowyer - $8,000
Alex Bowman - $7,600
Jamie McMurray - $7,200
Daniel Suarez - $7,00

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Kasey Kahne - $6,100
Trevor Bayne - $5,800
David Ragan - $5,300

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,300
Kyle Larson - $10,000
Chase Elliott - $9,700
Kurt Busch - $8,600
Kasey Kahne - $6,100
David Ragan - $5,300

Kyle Busch gets his shot to lead the lower-risk lineup this week on the back of consecutive runner-up finishes. His frustration at not yet winning in 2018 is showing, and with three career victories at Auto Club Speedway he makes an excellent play this week. Busch and Larson may be the most obvious choices for fantasy owners this week. Larson led 110 laps en route to winning here last season and has been qualifying and running solidly inside the top 10 since Daytona. He struggled mid-race last week but shouldn’t suffer the same fate this weekend after getting out of the blocks with a top-five practice run to start. Hendrick Motorsports has shown significant progress over the last four races with their new car, and Elliott is likely to use that to his advantage this week. He has been the fastest out of that organization, and his short career at this circuit has produced two top-10s. Phoenix gave Kurt Busch the opportunity to get back to his top-10 ways after a disappointing Las Vegas outing. He won here in 2003 and started from pole in 2015. Kahne pulled out a top-20 finish in Las Vegas, and he knows how to get around this track quickly, too. He won here in the fall of 2006. Ragan has been the most consistent driver at the bottom of the price range so far this season. He may not be in store for a top-10 this week but he’ll have a good chance of bagging a top-20 finish while picking up finish differential points as well.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $11,500
Denny Hamlin - $9,300
Clint Bowyer - $8,000
Jamie McMurray - $7,200
Daniel Suarez - $7,000
Ty Dillon - $6,300

Despite Harvick’s domination of the season thus far, winning four consecutive races is extremely difficult. He faces that prospect this week and last won at Fontana in 2011. He was fastest in the weekend’s first practice before stumbling a bit in qualifying. Truex is another option in this position, but Harvick likely will offer more points via finish differential. Hamlin has never won at Auto Club Speedway but he has led laps in the last six races at the venue. He also hasn’t started outside of the top 10 here since 2010. This week he just needs to carry that speed throughout the 400 miles. Holding down the 10th position in points is our third choice for this lineup. Bowyer has two top-10 finishes from four races so far this season and was second to Harvick in Friday’s opening practice for the race. He hasn’t led any laps yet in 2018 but is showing early-season consistency that warrants a spot on fantasy rosters. McMurray has been more inconsistent but he came to life last week in Phoenix. He sits well down the championship standings but started in the top 10 at Phoenix. He has teammate Larson to lean on this week and that should be enough to get McMurray past the trouble he has endured so far. This week will be the second visit to Auto Club Speedway for Suarez. He finished seventh after starting 10th last year, which makes him a tremendous value play at this position. Rounding out the picks this week is Dillon. While the team has struggled so far, Dillon led one lap and added a three-place finish differential to fantasy scores here last year. That indicates he could offer some upside potential this week.

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.