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Chasing the Cup

Four to Watch at Vegas: Austin Dillon

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 21, 2020, 4:30 pm ET

While there are a few unlimited games out there, most fantasy contests force players to take mid-level and dark horse picks. One of this week’s top choices is Austin Dillon.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is currently Dillon’s fifth-best track with an average finish of 15.9 in nine starts. But what he lacks in outright strength there, he makes up for with consistency. Dillon has finished outside the top 20 only twice in his Vegas career. One of these modest results was a 21st in his first attempt in 2015. The other was a 25th in 2017.

Repetition is critical for development. Once NASCAR began visiting Vegas twice a year, Dillon’s performance improved. He has not cracked the top 10 in the last two seasons, but he has come close three times with a 13th in spring 2018 plus an 11th- and 12th-place finish in his last two fall starts.

Dillon’s best performance came in 2016. He started fifth that spring, led two laps, and finished behind a who’s who of racing that included race winner Brad Keselowski, his Penske teammate Joey Logano in second, Jimmie Johnson in third, and Kyle Busch in fourth. Dillon was ahead of Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Martin Truex Jr.

Better yet, there is no asterisk behind his name after that race. Dillon did not luck into this top-five with pit strategy; he simply found a great place to run on the progressive banking and charged to the front. With a little luck on his side, he should contend for his second career Vegas top-10. It seems highly likely that he will earn a fifth top-15 and become one of the drivers batting .500 or greater.

Another reason for our enthusiasm for Dillon this week is his 2018 record on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Last year he finished 10th in the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. He was eighth in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Dillon scored a total of five top-15s on this track type during the season. When he missed, he was usually in contention. Dillon ran into trouble twice during the season on 1.5-milers. Both came during the summer. Dillon was eliminated because of an accident in Coke 600 and finished 34th; he kept his damaged car running at Kentucky, but still fell to 35th at the end.

If one removes those two outliers from his results, Dillon had an average finish of 15th on the 1.5-milers with a worst of 21st. For a dark horse, those numbers are solid enough to get him a spot on your roster to free up resources that will contribute to an upgrade of one of the marquee drivers. Dillon is priced at $6,900 in the Draft Kings game this week, which adds an average of $287 for the remaining five contestants.

Career Average Finish: 15.9 in 9 starts (ranked fifth)
2019 South Point 400: 12
2019 Pennzoil 400: 20
2018 South Point 400: 11
2018 Pennzoil 400: 13

Four to Watch at Vegas: Joey Logano
Four to Watch at Vegas: Martin Truex Jr.

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.