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Kurt Busch
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Cap Considerations

Draft Kings: Auto Club 400

by Dan Beaver

Seven of the top-10 finishers in last year’s Auto Club 400 finished 11th or better in the 2017 edition of this race; four drivers went on to sweep the top 10 at Michigan, making this one of the most predictable races (and track types) of the year. Unfortunately, that does not always play in a fantasy owner’s favor because the slightest mistake can have huge consequences in terms of points earned.

There is also the not-so-little fact that the folks who set salary caps are also aware of this.

Kyle Larson has a great record on two-mile tracks and is among the five-most expensive drivers this week. The most expensive driver in the field, Kyle Busch is one of the drivers who swept last year’s top five. Meanwhile, the winner of the fall Michigan race and second-place finisher in the spring event there is Kevin Harvick.

There aren’t a lot of bargains to be had and setting this week’s roster is going to require some careful analysis of points earned by bargain drivers.


Group A: 5 Most Expensive (>$10,400)

Kyle Larson ($10,800)
So far this season, Kyle Busch has earned the most points with 337 to Larson’s 243. The question is whether that advantage by Busch is enough to cost fantasy players a much less adequate pick in the other salary cap levels. When one factors in the $1,800 price differential between the two, Larson seems like a much closer value, earning 5.6 points for every $1,000 of his salary cap to Busch’s 6.7. There is also the not-so-subtle fact that Larson has consistently been great on two-mile tracks, with the exception of last year’s problems at Michigan. In one of the most bizarre qualification sessions we’ve seen this year, Larson qualified 15th – and that only adds to his attractiveness since he should earn positive place-differential points.

Group B: (Between $10,000 and $8,400)

Kurt Busch ($9,100)
With more drivers listed at $10,000 of more, the next seven drivers in the Draft Kings game has a little more distance between the most and least expensive. Busch fits neatly in the middle of this range and he has been a consistently good value. His points per thousand is actually better than Kevin Harvick at 4.8 versus 4.2 and he has momentum on his side with three consecutive results of seventh or better on unrestricted tracks. He was not particularly strong in qualification and rolls off mid-pack, which gives him ample room to improve.

Ryan Blaney ($8,400)
Team Penske has been great on two-mile tracks with a sweep of the top 10 for all three of their drivers last year. While Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are among the five most expensive drivers this week, Blaney commands only the 12th highest price tag, which places him at the bottom of this range. He should be an easy pick and could actually anchor your roster as you place the more expensive and cheaper drivers around him.

Group C: (Between $8,200 and $7,100)

Ryan Newman ($7,300)
Newman has not burned up the track, but he has been steady. In four races this year he has three top-15s. One of those came in the Daytona lottery, and that means he has been strong in two-thirds of the unrestricted races. In terms of how much he has cost for every points he’s earned this year, he would be ranked above all but one of the drivers in Group B and that makes him very attractive this week. In the past three years, he has finished 17th or better in all but two races. One of those modest results came here at Auto Club last year, however, when he finished 21st.

Chris Buescher ($7,100)
Buescher could be this week’s surprise dark horse like he was at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In the QuikTrip 500, he scored the fifth-most points in the Draft Kings game earning more than nine points for every thousand dollars he cost. His salary cap is slowly rising from $6,200 in that race to his current level, but it is taking a while to get to his natural place. Take advantage of that while it lasts.

Group D: (Between $7,000 and $6,100)

William Byron ($6,900)
Hendrick Motorsports still has a long way to go before the entire organization is fantasy relevant. Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott have shown signs of speed, but they have not really lived up to expectations and underperformed their salary cap. The least expensive of their drivers is Byron and while he has only earned 91 total points in the first four races, he has not cost fantasy players much along the way. Byron finished 15th in last year’s edition of this race and was 13th in the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan. He’ll be a good value so long as he lands in the teens again this week.

Ty Dillon ($6,100)
Dillon needs a little luck to be a good value in the Auto Club 400, but if he can return to his 2017 form he could be the difference between winning and losing this week. During his rookie season, he finished between 18th and 21st in the three races on two-mile tracks. Last year, he suffered through a sophomore slump and has not quite come out of it. Still, he’s been one of the better performers in his cap range with 109 total points in four races.

Group E: ($5,900 or less)

Matt Tifft ($5,400)
Tifft was a very good value last week at Phoenix. His 20th-place finish in the TicketGuardian 500k earned 34 points, which was the 14th-most in the game. That was a finishing result of 11 spots better than he averaged the two previous weeks, but it underscores the value he can bring with the right set of circumstances. His other two points’ productions on unrestricted tracks were 19 at Atlanta and 11 at Las Vegas.

 

Driver

Avg. Rank

Total Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

Auto Club

Points
Per K (L60)

Group

Kyle Busch

3.75

337

84.3

$12,600

            6.7

A

Kyle Larson

7.25

243

60.6

$10,800

            5.6

A

Joey Logano

9.00

216

53.9

$10,400

            5.2

A

Brad Keselowski

10.50

232

57.9

$11,500

            5.0

A

Kevin Harvick

12.50

205

51.2

$12,100

            4.2

A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kurt Busch

11.50

177

44.1

$9,100

            4.8

B

Martin Truex Jr.

12.50

184

46.0

$10,000

            4.6

B

Denny Hamlin

12.25

165

41.2

$9,400

            4.4

B

Ryan Blaney

17.00

138

34.5

$8,400

            4.1

B

Clint Bowyer

14.75

140

35.0

$8,600

            4.1

B

Aric Almirola

14.25

153

38.1

$9,700

            3.9

B

Chase Elliott

16.00

125

31.3

$8,800

            3.6

B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Newman

15.25

136

34.0

$7,300

            4.7

C

Erik Jones

14.00

152

37.9

$8,200

            4.6

C

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.50

124

30.9

$7,600

            4.1

C

Chris Buescher

18.00

112

27.9

$7,100

            3.9

C

Jimmie Johnson

19.00

115

28.8

$7,800

            3.7

C

Daniel Suarez

20.00

98

24.4

$8,000

            3.0

C

Austin Dillon

25.75

75

18.6

$7,400

            2.5

C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ty Dillon

20.75

109

27.3

$6,100

            4.5

D

William Byron

21.50

91

22.7

$6,900

            3.3

D

Alex Bowman

21.50

88

21.9

$7,000

            3.1

D

Paul Menard

22.25

81

20.1

$6,700

            3.0

D

Daniel Hemric

24.25

70

17.6

$6,300

            2.8

D

Matt DiBenedetto

25.00

70

17.6

$6,500

            2.7

D

Ryan Preece

25.25

65

16.3

$6,200

            2.6

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ross Chastain

19.00

117

29.3

$5,600

            5.2

E

Corey LaJoie

22.00

91

22.8

$5,200

            4.4

E

BJ McLeod

23.33

66

22.0

$5,100

            4.3

E

Matt Tifft

24.00

71

17.8

$5,400

            3.3

E

Landon Cassill

28.75

60

14.9

$5,300

            2.8

E

David Ragan

25.00

63

15.8

$5,900

            2.7

E

Michael McDowell

27.50

54

13.4

$5,800

            2.3

E

Cody Ware

30.25

38

9.5

$4,800

            2.0

E

Reed Sorenson

31.00

9

9.0

$5,000

            1.8

E

Bubba Wallace

27.50

37

9.3

$5,700

            1.6

E

Garrett Smithley

35.00

7

7.0

$4,700

            1.5

E

Joey Gase

34.00

4

4.0

$4,900

            0.8

E

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.