Get your roster set for NASCAR's first trip to the Lone Star State
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races on to Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, March 31 at 3 p.m. ET. In the 2019 O'Reilly Auto Parts 500, race cars will use the same low-horsepower package as Las Vegas and Fontana. Drafting will come into play due to the lower speeds and the aero ducts. Texas also added a traction compound in the corners of the racetrack to create another racing lane.
Twenty-eight of the 36 races at Texas have been won from starting inside the top 10 and 22 of them from inside the top five. That history means qualifying position is very important in this race if you want the winning driver in your lineup. Also, don't forget about NASCAR's qualifying rules that have sent some drivers (Paul Menard, Landon Cassill, Timmy Hill) to the rear for pit road speeding.
Remember, DraftKings awards points for leading laps, fastest laps, point differential, and finishing position. All of these should be in play this week. Here's a closer look at the DraftKings rules.
You can use the following drivers as a starting point for creating your own lineup. Also, remember to check on Sunday before the race to see if anyone fails pre-race inspection. If they do, they could be good value (depending on whether they have a fast car).
Kevin Harvick ($10,700)
Career at Texas: 32 starts, 2 wins, 10 top fives, 20 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 10.8
Kevin Harvick has a great history at Texas. Both of his wins in the Lone Star State came in the fall race the past two years. He's earned 10 top-10 finishes in his last 11 starts; the only blip on the resume is an engine failure in spring 2014.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has been somewhat inconsistent in DraftKings formats but still has finished well this year. He qualified 23rd for this race and should have a fast enough car to get back to the front. That should earn you extra points depending on where he finishes.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,000)
Career at Texas: 31 starts, 7 wins, 15 top fives, 21 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 9.8
Wow, how about those Chevys! They swept the first five positions in Texas qualifying, with Johnson out in front. That's a good thing for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, who earned his first pole in nearly three years (New Hampshire in 2016).
Here's the bad thing for Johnson; he just hasn't been that speedy this year in race trim. We'll see if he can turn it around.
Johnson last won this race two years ago after qualifying deep in the field (24th). He has 21 top 10s here, which is an astounding number (68% of his overall starts). Starting from the pole, Johnson has the chance to lead laps, but he is also a risky pick to finish up front. Hopefully, he won't get into any major trouble in this one.
Erik Jones ($8,200)
Career at Texas: 5 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 10.4
We have another fairly risky driver here due to Jones' recent history, but this track has been one of his best. Last year, in both Texas races he finished in fourth place after qualifying 21st and 12th, respectively. The hope is Jones will bounce back after a Martinsville flat tire led to his fourth straight race outside the top 10.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver qualified 11th for Sunday's race and does have the equipment to race near the front. Jones hasn't been as good this year as his fellow teammates, but he does have the potential to give you some fast laps and positive place differential points.
Joey Logano ($11,600)
Career at Texas: 21 starts, 1 win, 9 top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 14.3
Logano last won this race back in 2014, but he also has a solid recent history at Texas. The Team Penske driver has six straight finishes inside the top 10 and generally has qualified well. This race is no different as the reigning MENCS champ starts eighth on Sunday.
Logano didn't have a good race last week, struggling after winning the pole, but he did finish second at Fontana this year using the same package we'll see at TMS. He is fairly expensive, though, so you will need one or two value drivers if you wish to use him.
Kyle Busch ($12,200)
Career at Texas: 26 starts, 3 wins, 12 top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 11.8
As we all know by now, Kyle Busch has been in top form in 2019. The JGR driver won at Fontana and ISM while collecting high DraftKings points so far this year. Those results have caused Busch's price to keep rising. But I believe he is worth it; remember, Busch won this race a year ago. He hasn't finished any race this season in any of the top three NASCAR series lower than sixth.
Busch is starting a little bit further back in 16th this Sunday but he has the ability to race his way to the front of the pack and lead some laps. Since Busch is starting mid-pack at Texas, he can also give us positive place differential points.
The downside of using him in your roster is you will certainly need some value drivers. Such is the risk of playing daily fantasy.
Perhaps the two drivers below, then, can help you in that area.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,300)
Career at Texas: 7 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 30.4
Matt DiBenedetto is my honorable mention here because he started 30th and finished 16th in this race a year ago. At Fontana this year, he qualified 24th and ran 18th with his new team, Leavine Family Racing.
This year, DiBenedetto qualified 26th at TMS which means he can also get you positive place differential points. The LFR No. 95 Toyotas are better than his ride last year and have an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. That has helped him to produce better results (and helps you to pair him with a more expensive driver like Kyle Busch).
Dark Horse Performer
Bubba Wallace ($5,500)
Career at Texas: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10s
Average finish at Texas: 16.5
Wallace did very well last week, scoring 36 DraftKings points. A year ago, he finished eighth after starting 15th at TMS. It's still too early to tell if that's a trend at this track, but he did qualify 10th for this race and does have some potential to gain more spots. He's very risky, but can save you some money should you choose to have him in your lineup.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)