Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

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Fantasy Live: Auto Club 400

Thursday, March 15, 2018


The two-mile tracks may well be perfect race courses for NASCAR stockers. They are not quite long enough to require restrictor-plates, so the speed is incredible and the turns are wide and multi-grooved. Aerodynamics come into play on the straightaway, but once the cars hit the corners the drivers can find another lane and make the pass.

The skills needed to go fast at Auto Club Speedway and Michigan International Speedway reward a certain kind of driver, so there are typically long streaks on them. Kyle Busch posted four consecutive top-three finishes at Auto Club from 2011 through 2014—including back-to-back wins. Jimmie Johnson had a 10-race, top-10 streak going from 2007 through 2012 that included four wins and eight top-three finishes.

NASCAR’s Age of Parity has disturbed some of those multi-year streaks, but five drivers swept the top 10 in the three races at Auto Club and Michigan. They highlight this week’s ideal roster for the NASCAR Fantasy Live game.

Kyle Larson
As you look forward to the remainder of the 2018 season, Kyle Larson should automatically be earmarked for the two-mile tracks and the reason for that is simple: He has four consecutive wins at Michigan and Auto Club. Larson hasn’t dominated every event, but the most points in any game are awarded at the end of the show and that is when he shines.

Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott has never finished outside the top 10 on a two-mile track. He debuted with a sixth in the 2016 Auto Club 400, which he followed up with back-to-back, second-place finishes at Michigan. Last year he was 10th in California with another second and eighth in the two Michigan races. In only two attempts, he has not yet earned a top-five on at Auto Club, but the remainder of his two-mile record is more than sufficient to recommend him. Elliott also has some recent momentum on his side after running strong at Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway last week.

Martin Truex Jr.
The 2018 unrestricted, intermediate speedways season did not get off to the same strong start as 2017 for Martin Truex Jr. Last year, he dominated the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and carried that momentum into Auto Club with a fourth-place finish. This year, he has not challenged for the win very often, but crew chief Cole Pearn has been calling a very intelligent race and elevated him to the top five in the past three weeks. Add in last year’s efforts, and Truex counts 12 top-fives in his last 14 attempts; four of these were victories.

 

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Jamie McMurray
With no top-15s to his credit yet, it is hard to value Jamie McMurray. But a rising tide lifts every ship in the harbor and Larson’s setups on his Chevrolet should give his teammate a head start on the competition. Consistency was McMurray’s hallmark last year and while that is missing in 2018, a six-race streak of top-10s on two-mile tracks indicates that he has a knack for this type of track. McMurray can be aggressive when he needs to be, but that is not his go-to approach and the wide corners of this track play into his favor.

Joey Logano
Last week was a huge disappointment for Joey Logano fans. It’s not just that he finished poorly in 19th, but that no one ever heard a peep from him during the TicketGuardian 500. That was surprising because he was the only driver who entered the weekend with a perfect sweep of the top 10 this year. He should be able to rebound on the two-mile tracks. He entered last summer’s Pure Michigan 400 with a 10-race, top-10 streak on the two-milers before running into trouble that afternoon and finishing 28th.

Garage Pick

Daniel Suarez
Last week, we were optimistic about both sophomore drivers and they came through with top-10 finishes. This week, it’s time to roll the dice again and put Daniel Suarez in the garage so that he is ready to activate if any of the top five stumble. He did not perform particularly well at Michigan, but Suarez got off to a strong start in California with a seventh. Last week, the entire Joe Gibbs Racing operation finished in the top 10, which underscores just how strong the organization has been this year.

 

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Kevin Harvick

53

7

3

Kurt Busch

42

7

2

Brad Keselowski

41

6

1

Martin Truex Jr.

40

7

 

Kyle Busch

38

6

1

Ryan Blaney

34

4

1

Kyle Larson

32

5

 

Joey Logano

31

6

 

Michael McDowell

17

3

 

Aric Almirola

16

3

 

Denny Hamlin

15

4

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

15

2

 

Chase Elliott

13

4

 

Paul Menard

13

4

 

Clint Bowyer

12

3

 

Alex Bowman

9

1

 

Ty Dillon

5

1

 

Trevor Bayne

4

2

 

Darrell Wallace Jr.

4

1

 

Austin Dillon

2

1

 

Kasey Kahne

2

1

 

Daniel Suarez

1

1

 

Erik Jones

1

1

 

 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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