So, before we start on daily fantasy NASCAR… Did anything happen in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying? Anything questionable? Something I should know about? No?
OK, let’s continue. The trip to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Ca. is the first repeat of any package we’ve had in 2019. Some say this track is the one NASCAR should have left alone because of its fast speeds, multiple grooves and, over the years, thrilling finishes.
But there should still be exciting racing this weekend. The guys you saw up front in Las Vegas probably will do well and some guys that struggled may have found something. As always, be on edge, pick your own lineups and, if I am wrong, don’t scrutinize me because I will be right eventually!
I won’t take away too much of your time, just keep those thoughts in mind as you fill out your daily fantasy lineups. The drivers I pick may not be the fastest on speed alone. But remember, the way cars handle in mid-draft make them a key contender to maximize your DFS performance.
Below are some drivers to keep in mind when filling out your lineups; as always, you will see some questionable names amongst the usual suspects as the sport heads to SoCal.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. Sunday’s (March 17) 200-lap race will only have a total of 20.0 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack competitors who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for Sunday’s race.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,700)
Career at Auto Club Speedway: 18 starts, 1 win, 2 top 5s, 6 top 10s
Average Finish at ACS: 18.2
Truex has not had career numbers in Fontana. In fact, far from it; he led just nine laps in his first 14 career starts here. But three of his six career ACS top 10s have come in the past four years, including his last two starts. Those are his only top fives at the track but he’s made them count, including a victory in 2018.
Truex starts deep in the field (27th) and has a ton of ground to make up. Luckily, he’ll have four-to-five laps less on his tires and a package that makes it easy to gain runs on the competition. Truex has shown solid speed in 2019 and it’s time for a breakthrough with the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver. Two second-place finishes in four races could turn into a win in race five.
Kyle Larson ($12,400)
Career at Auto Club Speedway: 5 starts, 1 win, 3 top 5s, 3 top 10s
Average Finish at ACS: 14.0
Remember 2014? I remember watching the race and seeing this little-known dirt racer come sliding from the bottom of four-wide at Fontana on the restart. Five years later, that little-known dirt racer has racked up a 60% top-5 percentage at Auto Club, including a win and a second in his last two respective starts.
Larson starts 15th and has struggled thus far with this lower-horsepower handling package out west. But if there is a track he can figure it out at, it’s Auto Club Speedway.
Chase Elliott ($10,600) – Chase, once again, is the superior Hendrick Motorsports car. He was seventh fastest in practice and will start eighth for this weekend’s race. It would not shock me to see Chase lead a lot of laps en route to another strong run, maybe even a win in Fontana. Surprisingly enough, he has yet to lead a lap this year but that should change on Sunday.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
Daniel Suarez ($7,300)
Career at Auto Club Speedway: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 1 top 10s
Average Finish at ACS: 15.0
Daniel “Macho Man” Suarez will be tagging with WWE SuperStar Rey Mysterio on Sunday (March 17) for the biggest matchup of his career. Just kidding; but seriously, Suarez is my pick to win the darn race. 20th in practice and 20th in qualifying may be throwing you off, but he is due. The Stewart-Haas Racing knows how to run well here and he is teamed with (arguably) the strongest manufacturer in Ford.
Suarez also ran top 10 in his first ever start here in the MENCS. Don’t sleep on him. Teammate Kevin Harvick starts second and it’s clear SHR has found some speed overall.
Ty Dillon ($6,000)
Career at Auto Club Speedway: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at ACS: 22.5
This pick may be another one where you look at me like I have five heads. But Richard Childress Racing and the RCR-affiliated cars have been fast at all of the big tracks thus far in 2019; Ty is no exception. He was 12th-fastest in opening practice and qualified a respectable 16th for this race.
Dillon will probably run around where he starts for most of the day. But don’t be surprised to see the younger Dillon brother sneak his way into a top-10 finish with the way we expect this racing to go. RCR has a strong package for this race, evidenced by older brother Austin’s pole run.
BARGAIN TIER: $5,999 and below
David Ragan ($5,000)
Career at Auto Club Speedway: 16 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 1 top 10
Average Finish at ACS: 20.9
Stop. Hear. Me. Out… Ragan has 16 starts at this two-mile tri-oval and has completed all but 15 laps he has attempted. That’s an astounding 99.6% completion rate which is remarkable for a veteran of the series. He has done respectable at the track since joining Front Row Motorsports in 2012, boasting four top-25 efforts in seven starts.
Ragan was 15th in practice and starts from the inside of the 10th row. He will be a conservative bet when things get hairy (as we expect them to).
One-Time Weekly Bets
Brad Keselowski – 7/1
Denny Hamlin – 15/1
Chase Elliott – 20/1
Daniel Suarez – 66/1