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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

AAA Texas 500 Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 30, 2019, 5:57 pm ET

Last fall’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway was accurately predicted within 4.82 spots from the actual result on average, making this one of the more successful cheat sheet performances of 2018. There were six cautions for incident but most of the marquee drivers were spared. Playoff contenders Clint Bowyer (26th) and Kyle Busch (17th) were the only ones to finish outside the top 10.

This year threatens to be different.

The non-playoff drivers have shown a decided lack of deference to the Round of 8 contenders and that is creating some excitement on the track Aric Almirola fumed last week after being wrecked by Busch and he threatened to make life difficult. The championship drivers are on edge as well, which was played out on pit road last week between the teams of Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. There are also several desperate drivers with points’ deficits that need to be erased and only two weeks to accomplish that.

This spring’s O'Reilly 500 was not nearly as predictable as last fall – largely because of some early problems for Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney who should have finished with the leaders but came home 36th or worse instead. When that happens there is a ripple effect upwards through the cheat sheet as drivers who might otherwise have finished at the tail end of the field are artificially elevated.


1. Kevin Harvick
In his last 10 Texas starts, Harvick has seven top-fives and an average finish of 3.9. He won the last two fall races on this track.

2. Joey Logano
Before his struggles in the spring O'Reilly 500, Logano had a six-race, top-10 streak going. Four of those were top-fives, so he deserves special attention this week.

3. Chase Elliott
Nothing short of a victory will help Elliott this week and that will contribute to a sense of urgency in the cockpit of the No. 9. Elliott has four top-fives in his last six 1.5-mile starts this year.

4. Ryan Blaney
An overheating issue at Texas this spring snapped a three-race streak of results sixth or better for Blaney on this track.

5. Martin Truex Jr.
Don't be surprised if Truex takes this weekend as an opportunity to experiment on a setup for Homestead. That could either pay off big or cause him a mechanical failure.

6. William Byron
Players who are not risk averse will want to seriously consider Byron this week. He's scored two top-10s in three Texas starts and four such finishes in his last five attempts on 1.5-mile tracks this year.

7. Kyle Busch
Busch won at Texas last spring and also in spring 2016. Unfortunately, three of his last five attempts there have ended 15th or worse.

8. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski seems to take Texas in spurts. In 2014-2015 he had three consecutive top-10, followed by two results outside that mark. He swept the top 10 in 2017 and hasn't earned another such finish in his last three attempts.

9. Erik Jones
This could be the weekend that Jones reestablishes the No. 20 among the leaders. His last three Texas races ended in fourth-place results and he's been worse than 12th only once in six starts.

10. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin won the spring O'Reilly 500 at Texas. He won the most recent 1.5-mile race in Kansas. But he also has been 15th or worse in four of his starts on this track type in 2019.

11. Kyle Larson
If Larson can avoid an accident this week, he is capable of scoring a top-five. Unfortunately three of his last five Texas attempts have ended with wrinkled fenders.

12. Alex Bowman
There have been only two races on 1.5-mile track this year in which Bowman finished outside the top 15. His consistency is a strong recommendation for him as a mid-cap starter.

13. Kurt Busch
From Texas last fall through the spring Kansas race this year, Busch has six consecutive top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks. He struggled for a bit after that, but rebounded with a fourth in the most recent race on this course type.

14. Aric Almirola
It took a while for Almirola to find the groove at Texas, but he's finished in the top 10 in his last two starts there, including a seventh this spring.

15. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's second-place finish this spring at Texas was encouraging, but one should not lose sight of the fact that is only his second top-10 on this track since 2014.

16. Jimmie Johnson
If not for last week's bitter disappointment at Martinsville, we might have Johnson predicted for a top-10. He's finished that well on 1.5-mile tracks five times already this year.

17. Chris Buescher
For players who concentrate only at the top of the order, Buescher is going to be a huge surprise this week, but his four top-10s and perfect record of top-20s recommends him as a mid-level starter.

18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
With a best of fifth at Charlotte and sixth in the spring Vegas race compared to a worst of 26th in the fall Vegas contest, Stenhouse has considerable upside with a manageable downside.

19. Daniel Suarez
After getting off to a strong start on 1.5-mile tracks this year, Suarez has cooled considerably and three of his last four attempts on the course type ended 20th or worse.

20. Paul Menard
All but one of Menard's nine attempts on 1.5-mile tracks this year have ended between 11th and 21st. He will be a good value if he qualifies 25th or worse so he can earn positive place-differential points.

21. Ryan Newman
Newman was working on his third consecutive top-10 on a 1.5-mile track two weeks ago before he sustained crash damage at Kansas and finished last.

22. Austin Dillon
Dillon finished 10th in last year's edition of this race and was 10th again at Chicagoland this summer, but the majority of his results on 1.5-milers have been 20th or worse in 2019.

23. Ty Dillon
Keep a close eye on Dillon in practice and qualification. He has made six starts on this track and never finished worse than 22nd. With three top-20s to his credit, he could be one of the best values at his level.

24. Daniel Hemric
Hemric's worst finish on a 1.5-mile track came at Texas this spring when he crossed under the checkers 10 laps off the pace in 33rd. Even with that modest finish, his average on the track type is 22.9.

25. David Ragan
Ragan is not the first driver who comes to mind on unrestricted, intermediate speedways, but in nine starts on 1.5-mile tracks this year, he has amassed an average of 23.4. Ragan was 25th at Texas this spring.

26. Michael McDowell
After getting off to a slow start on 1.5-mile tracks this year with a pair of 30-something results, McDowell has amassed an average finish of 22.3 on this course type. He was 15th in the spring Texas race.

27. Ryan Preece
This spring Preece finished within sight of the top 20 in his first Texas start. Fast forward to Kansas two weeks ago, and he scored a solid 12th without mitigating circumstances.

28. Matt DiBenedetto
More than half of DiBenedetto's 1.5-mile attempts this year ended outside the top 25. He could easily defy this prediction, but is likely to be a better value next week in Phoenix.

29. Corey LaJoie
Consistency is the most important factor in fantasy handicapping. LaJoie has finished 28th in four of nine races on 1.5-mile tracks this year; three of his remaining five were within two spots of that.

30. Bubba Wallace
Wallace's first eight races on this track type all ended in the 20s and if not for an accident at Kansas two weeks ago, he would likely have kept that streak alive.

31. Parker Kligerman
The No. 96 team has made five starts on 1.5-mile track with Kligerman behind the wheel. They've finished between 26th and 31st and could be a hidden gem if they fit the right niche on your roster.

32. Ross Chastain
Chastain will be in the No. 27 this week instead of the No. 15, but he should still be a solid value. In nine races on 1.5-mile tracks, he's finished worse than 31st only twice.

33. JJ Yeley
Among the Rick Ware drivers, Yeley deserves special attention. His experience in the Cup series has helped him finish a bit better than his teammates and he was 32nd and 30th in the last two 1.5-mile races.

34. Landon Cassill
If Cassill can get track position near the end of the race, he could contend for a top-30. He has finished between 29th and 32nd five times this year in nine 1.5-mile starts.

35. John Hunter Nemechek
In nine starts on 1.5-mile tracks this year, the No. 36 team has accrued an average finish of 26.4. In his debut, Nemechek should consider a top-30 a success.

36. Quin Houff
In a race with heavy attrition, Houff finished 28th at Charlotte this summer. He also has a pair of 34th-place results at Kansas and Kentucky to give players an idea of his high-water mark.

37. Reed Sorenson
A 30th-place finish in the Coke 600 was the highpoint for Sorenson on 1.5-mile tracks this year, but most of his efforts have been in the mid-30s. He will be in the No. 15 this week.

38. Garrett Smithley
In four races on this track type in 2019, Smithley has a best finish of 32nd at Texas in the spring. His last two efforts netted results of 35th at Vegas and 34th at Kansas.

39. Josh Bilicki
If all goes well this week, Bilicki could challenge for a mid-30s result. In two starts on 1.5-mile tracks this year, his best effort netted a 33rd at Chicagoland.

40. Timmy Hill
Hill finished 38th this spring in the O'Reilly 500 at Texas. That is his best result in three starts on 1.5-mile tracks.

 

Drivers Most Accurately
Predicted This Year

 

Avg.
Difference

Times
Within 3

 

Landon Cassill

4.8

16

Ross Chastain

5.0

14

Martin Truex Jr.

5.1

14

David Ragan

5.4

12

Ty Dillon

5.9

14

Paul Menard

5.9

12

Chris Buescher

6.2

12

Denny Hamlin

6.5

18

Kevin Harvick

6.5

15

Ryan Newman

6.9

13

 

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.