Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Auto Club 400 Cheat Sheet

Friday, March 16, 2018

Last year five drivers who finished in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway went on to sweep the two-mile tracks and that suggests California and Michigan International Speedway are close comparatives. In fact, many of the drivers listed below fell into a narrow band of results in these three races, so fantasy players can expect some fairly predictable results.

As is often the case with stats like this, however, minor changes can make a big difference, but practice and qualification are also tell us a lot about how drivers will finish—so stay tuned to the Rotoworld coverage until the green flag drops on Sunday.

1. Kyle Larson
With a sweep of the two-mile tracks last year and another win in fall 2016 at Michigan, it is impossible not to rank Larson in the top spot this week.

2. Chase Elliott
This famous son is about to make a name for himself by winning win. Elliott has three second-place finishes on the other two-mile track and has never finished worse than 10th at California or Michigan.

3. Kyle Busch
Five drivers swept the top 10 on two-mile tracks last year; Busch was the most consistent with results of seventh through 10th.

4. Martin Truex Jr.
After dominating the 1.5-mile tracks all year, it might seem a little surprising that Truex did not win on the two-milers. He came close at Michigan in the summer with a runner-up finish, however.

5. Joey Logano
This should be a good time for Logano to rebound from last week's disappointing performance in Phoenix because he has 13 top-10s on two-mile tracks in his last 15 starts.

6. Jamie McMurray
Consistency has failed him for much of this season, but hope is renewed in the fact that McMurray enters the Auto Club 400 with a six-race streak of top-10s on two-mile tracks.

7. Kevin Harvick
The last time a driver won four consecutive races was Johnson in 2007, so Harvick stands on cusp of greatness. He failed to score a top-10 on two-mile tracks last year, however.

8. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski left Auto Club with a nine-race streak of top-10s on two-mile tracks, but Michigan proved to be his undoing. He was just outside the top 15 in both of its races.

9. Denny Hamlin
At times, this has been one of Hamlin's better track types. Unfortunately last year was not one of those times and he finished in the teens twice in three races.

10. Aric Almirola
It did not take long at all for Almirola to settle into his new Stewart-Haas Racing ride; he has swept the top 15 in the first four races of the season.

11. Erik Jones
Jones continues to hover on the cusp of the top 10 with results of eighth through 11th in his last three attempts. For a sophomore with a new team, that is incredible.

12. Ryan Blaney
If he has a strong showing in practice, fantasy players can add four or five positions to this ranking, but Blaney's two-mile average finish of 19.13 is not encouraging.

13. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's worst result in the last six attempts dating back to last fall was the 18th he scored on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

14. Jimmie Johnson
As one gets older, the brain becomes less flexible and that may be the reason Johnson has not earned a top-10 in his last 10 races.

15. Daniel Suarez
Last fall, Suarez earned three consecutive top-10s at New Hampshire, Dover, and Charlotte. After that, he was shut out of the single digits for nine races until last week's eighth.

16. Ryan Newman
This team is prone to gambling, and while that has paid dividends in the last two weeks, it makes them hard to predict. Uncertainty is not a fantasy player's friend.

17. Austin Dillon
With his Daytona 500 win in the bank, Dillon has finished comfortably in the mid-teens during the past three events.

18. Paul Menard
Menard has easily been one of the most pleasant surprises this year, but neither his personal record nor that of the Wood Bros. suggests he will finish in the top 10 at Auto Club.

19. Kurt Busch
The driver of the No. 41 can be frustrating to handicap, but the bottom line is that he has no top-fives and only three top-10s in his last eight races.

20. Alex Bowman
Considering how badly Hendrick Motorsports has struggled this season overall, Bowman's average finish of about 16th is solid.

21. Trevor Bayne
Like his teammate Stenhouse, Bayne has had some difficulty learning Jack Roush's magic on the two-milers. He did manage to finish fifth last summer at Michigan, though.

22. AJ Allmendinger
With the introduction of a second team, Allmendinger suffered on most tracks last year. He was consistent on the two milers, however, with results of 17th through 20th.

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Two-mile tracks were once the sweet spot for Roush-Fenway Racing, but that has not been the case for Stenhouse with an average finish of 20.4 in 15 career races.

24. William Byron
We do not yet know how Byron is going to perform on two-mile tracks in the Cup series, but Hendrick Motorsports is strong on this track type and the corners are wide enough for the rookie to stay out of trouble.

25. Kasey Kahne
On the unrestricted tracks, Kahne has finished between 19th and 24th in three races and that is about as good as one can expect from this privateer team.

26. Ty Dillon
Last year, Dillon was consistent on the two-mile tracks, but each result was progressively worse. He finished 18th at Auto Club and then 20th and 21st in Michigan's two races.

27. David Ragan
If his last three races are an indication, Ragan is going to finish either 22nd or 23rd in the Auto Club 400.

28. Michael McDowell
McDowell has shown glimpses of speed this year, but ultimately something unfortunate has sent him home in the 30s for the past two weeks.

29. Darrell Wallace Jr.
There is a little hope for Wallace this week because he finished 19th in last year's FireKeepers Casino 400 while subbing for the injured Almirola.

30. Chris Buescher
Buescher has been all over the board this year with one top-five, another top-15, and two results of 25th or worse.

31. Matt DiBenedetto
With results in the low to mid-20s in his last two attempts, DiBenedetto represents a reliable pick for the last roster slot.

32. Ross Chastain
The closest Chastain has come to competing on a two-mile track was earlier this season on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks of Atlanta and Vegas. He finished 30th and 29th respectively on them.

33. Cole Whitt
Tri-Star entered Whitt in all three two-mile races last year and he finished in a narrow band of 29th to 32nd.

34. Jeffrey Earnhardt
He came close at Las Vegas, but Earnhardt has not yet cracked the top 30 on an unrestricted speedway in 2018. Odds are good that he will still be outside that mark at Auto Club.

35. Gray Gaulding
Last week was the first time in three unrestricted, intermediate speedways that Gaulding was running at the end of the show. He finished 34th after starting 32nd.

36. Reed Sorenson
He was consistent last year if not overly strong on two-mile tracks; Sorenson finished 33rd or 34th in all three races at Auto Club and Michigan with Premium Motorsports.

37. Timmy Hill
Hill has four starts on two-mile tracks dating back to 2013 and his best finish came at Michigan that year; he was 29th and within two laps of the leaders.

Previous Cheat Sheets

TicketGuardian 500 (Phoenix) 
Pennzoil 400 (Vegas) 
QuikTrip 500 (Atlanta) 
Daytona 500

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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