Kevin Harvick
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NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: AAA Texas 500

Updated On: October 29, 2019, 3:28 pm ET

Last week Joey Logano’s crew talked Todd Gordon described the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway as the second-most important race because one could punch their ticket to Homestead-Miami Speedway early in the Round of 8. Since they didn’t win that event, guess how he probably feels about Texas Motor Speedway now?

In many ways, teams have been preparing for this race all season. Not only is it another opportunity to lock into the finale, but some of the lessons learned on this 1.5-mile track will be applied to the Ford 400. (Martinsville will become more important next year because another short, flat track, Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway will host the championship race.) This will be the 10th race run on a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track in 2019; in three weeks Homestead will be the 11th.

Because of the importance of Texas, the eight playoff drivers are going to be all-in for another week. At Martinsville, six of them finished in the top 10 and the two who didn’t struggled because of issues during the race. Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver with nothing to lose – but he is not going to be the only playoff driver taking chances with experimental and dangerous setups. Last week, fantasy players with Chase Elliott on their roster saw just what that can do to their hopes of winning their league.


Playoff: Kevin Harvick
Harvick isn’t worried about being 14 points behind the cutline. Heck, he probably wouldn't be worried to be in Elliott’s shoes – 44 points outside the bubble. That’s because two of his best tracks are coming up. Harvick has won two of the last four Texas races, finished second three times in the last 10 races there, third once, and has a streak of top-10s that dates back to fall 2014 when this round of the playoffs was known as the Eliminator. His streak at Phoenix next week is even more impressive with a 12-race streak. Homestead features an 11-race string of top-10s—most of which are top-fives. If a player is worried about forgetting to change their lineup between now and the finale, Harvick is the consummate place-and-hold driver.

Playoff: Chase Elliott
So far during the playoffs Elliott has been able to rise to the occasion after he, the team, or random fate, has put him in a hole. If he manages to recover from last week’s mechanical issue that sent him to the garage for more than 50 laps, television producers will create a montage that begins with him wrecking and winning at the Charlotte Roval and includes his Dover International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, and Martinsville Speedway mishaps. Even if he does not qualify for the Championship Four, he has a great shot at Texas this week. Four of his last six attempts on 1.5-mile tracks have ended in top-five finishes. Of course, his luck has been so abysmal that players will want to use the garage for another playoff driver if they take a risk on Elliott.

Non-Playoff: Erik Jones
“Four” is the operative word for Jones this week. He finished fourth in his last three Texas races and is currently riding a four-race streak of top-10s. His inaugural attempt on this track ended just outside that mark with a 12th in 2015. Jones has struggled during the playoffs, but his record on 1.5-mile tracks has been solid with three top-fives, three more top-10s, and a 13th in nine races this year. He crashed at Charlotte Motor Speedway and had more trouble at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to start the playoffs, but the majority of his results have been more than acceptable for a non-playoff pick.

Non-Playoff: Kurt Busch
You hear this over and over in these posts: consistency is critical for fantasy players. Scoring the occasional top-10 is great, but not always predictable. When a driver logs three, four, or even five consecutive top-10s on a course, it is not a fluke. And that is where we find Busch in recent seasons on this track. He currently rides a five-race, top-10 streak at Texas. Eight of his last 10 races have ended that well, with one other top-15 tossed into the mix. Busch finished ninth this in this spring’s O'Reilly 500, which was part of a six-race streak of top-10s on 1.5-mile courses. He fell off for a while, but rebounded with a win at Kentucky Speedway this summer and a fourth at Kansas Speedway.

Garage Pick

Playoff: Joey Logano
Team Penske has a great record on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Teammate Brad Keselowski won at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kansas with Logano taking the checkers in the first Vegas race. Logano finished second in the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was third at Chicagoland Speedway as part of a four-race streak of top-10s on this course type. He ran well a couple of weeks ago in the second Kansas race before he sustained crash damage and finished 17th. And that is where lies part of this week’s concern: Logano has been involved in an accident in his last three races of this season and suffered with a broken axle on the pace lap at Dover.

Non-Playoff: Chris Buescher
Buescher finished 20th in this spring’s O'Reilly 500, but fantasy owners might want to keep him in reserve based on his other results on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. He got the season off to a solid start with a ninth at Atlanta, finished 10th at Kansas a few weeks after Texas, was sixth in the Coke 600, and 10th at Kentucky. He was 13th in Kansas’ fall race and has been consistent enough that none of his results on this course type have been outside the top 20. Buescher has improved since this spring and with the emotional boost of his pending move to Roush next year, a top-10 is achievable.

Red Flag

Kyle Larson
Larson earned the red flag last week because of consistently poor performances at Martinsville; he struggled for most of that race before surging at the end to score a rare top-10. This week the concern is a little different; Larson has become crash prone on this track in the past few years with accidents in 2017, 2018, and this spring relegating him into the 30s. His other two results in those five races ended in top-fives, including a second-place finish in spring 2017. Fantasy owners who believe he will stay out of trouble in this race might well want to consider Larson for the garage, but cautious players will want to avoid him completely for another week.

Stage Wins This Year (16 drivers)
Kyle Busch (11), Joey Logano (10), Martin Truex Jr. (8), Kevin Harvick (5), Chase Elliott (5), Kyle Larson (5), Denny Hamlin (5), Brad Keselowski (4), Kurt Busch (3), Ryan Blaney (2), Austin Dillon (2), Ty Dillon (2), William Byron (2), Aric Almirola (1), Jimmie Johnson (1), and Clint Bowyer (1).

 

Segment wins and points at Texas
(10 segments to date)

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Ryan Blaney

67

8

2

Kevin Harvick

61

7

5

Joey Logano

49

8

1

Kyle Busch

38

7

1

Martin Truex Jr.

38

6

 

Kurt Busch

37

7

 

Erik Jones

32

6

 

Brad Keselowski

30

6

 

Chase Elliott

27

8

 

Kyle Larson

20

4

 

Jamie McMurray

20

3

 

Jimmie Johnson

19

3

 

Paul Menard

17

4

 

Daniel Suarez

16

4

 

Clint Bowyer

15

3

 

Aric Almirola

13

5

 

Denny Hamlin

12

2

1

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

10

3

 

Austin Dillon

7

1

 

Ryan Newman

5

1

 

William Byron

3

1

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2

1

 

Michael McDowell

2

1

 

Chris Buescher

1

1

 

 


Source URL: https://www.nbcsports.com/edge/article/nascar-fantasy-live-preview/fantasy-live-aaa-texas-500-0