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Aric Almirola
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NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: O'Reilly 500

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: March 29, 2019, 3:43 pm ET

After hosting back-to-back races on 1.5-mile tracks at the beginning of the season, NASCAR broke up the schedule with a pair of events on short, flat tracks and one on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. Now they return to Texas Motor Speedway with many of the same drivers that gained momentum at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway still red hot.

That might be good news. Then again, it might not.

Remember last year’s O'Reilly Auto Parts 500? Attrition was immediate and heavy – and it busted a lot of rosters from the get-go. There is no reason to think that this year will be the same, but it underscores a principal of fantasy racing. Be prepared to make changes right up until the green flag waves. This week, your race may be won or lost in the garage.

Martin Truex Jr.
Truex keeps coming close in regard to winning and this may well be the week he breaks through. He has been the class of the field for more than two years with only two results worse than ninth in his last 39 attempts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Seven of these were victories and the vast majority landed in the top five. He has not yet won at Texas, but finished second in fall 2017 and third in fall 2016.

Joey Logano
Logano has been solid at Texas throughout his career. His victory in the 2014 Duck Commander 500 is part of a string of near-perfect results dating back to the previous season and stretching till now. Since fall 2013, Logano has finished seventh or better in 10 of 12 races. His other two results were a 12th in fall 2014 and a 40th the next year with crash damage. That means he has a current six-race, top-seven streak. Four of those results were third or better.

Kevin Harvick
Harvick has not been as dominant in 2019 as he was last year, but he still manages to find the top-five on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. This year he finished fourth in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta and the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas. Last fall, he won the Texas 500. One cannot ignore his 12-race streak of top-10s on this track type in 2017/2018 that included four wins and a second-place finish at Texas in successive races. Equally important, if he goes down, he’ll take the majority of your competition with him.

Kyle Busch
Yes, this roster lacks imagination but creativity does not equal points on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Dating back to last fall’s Can Am 500k at Phoenix, Busch has not finished worse than sixth in eight straight races. His record on 1.5-milers is just as impressive with 13 top-10s in the last 14 races. Notably, his only poor results (17th) came last fall at Texas, but that is offset by a victory there in the spring.

Chase Elliott
There is a case to be made for Elliott to be this week’s garage pick instead of a starter. His recent performance on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks has not been overwhelming with only one top-five in his 12 races on this course type. If one looks a little further back, he has significant top-10 streaks to his credit that are dominated by top-fives. Moreover, his one strong run last year on a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track ended in Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway. Finally, he is coming off a confidence-boosting second-place finish in the STP 500 and that could help him get a top-five this week.  

Value Pick

Erik Jones
The similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks are the type of track that best suits Jones. On this track type, Jones has 11 results of 13th or better in his last 13 races. One of his poor results came when Harvick spun directly into his path at Las Vegas last year and that can hardly be credited against him. Jones is less of a sure thing because he has lost some momentum in 2019. His most recent attempt in Sin City was a less than thrilling 13th, but he finished fourth last fall at Texas and could be a pleasant surprise once more.

Garage Pick

Aric Almirola
Almirola is poised to finish in the top five. A win may still be a ways off, but fantasy players can expect him to keep getting close n the heels of seven consecutive results of sixth through 10th on 1.5-mile tracks. Looking at his recent momentum, Almirola has eight straight top-10s on unrestricted tracks that includes an eighth last fall at Texas. With that kind of consistency, he is a perfect choice for the garage in the event that one of your marquee drivers has an accident in the first half of the race.

Red Flag

Kyle Larson
Larson was almost perfect on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks last year. In 10 races on the doglegged and double-doglegged tracks, he scored nine top-10s that included runner-up finishes at Chicagoland Speedway and Vegas. He was expected to be among the challengers on the true oval in Homestead-Miami Speedway, but could only muster a 13th-place finish. This season, he has struggled to record back-to-back 12ths at Atlanta and Vegas. It’s best to give him a few weeks to find the groove and then jump on his bandwagon when the series hosts back-to-back races at Kansas and Charlotte Motor Speedway this summer.

 

2019 Segment wins and points

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning points

Segment
Wins

Kevin Harvick

69

11

2

Joey Logano

68

12

1

Ryan Blaney

63

9

2

Kyle Busch

59

8

4

Denny Hamlin

58

10

 

Aric Almirola

53

8

 

Brad Keselowski

44

6

2

Martin Truex Jr.

42

7

 

Chase Elliott

33

8

 

Kyle Larson

27

4

1

Daniel Suarez

20

5

 

Clint Bowyer

19

5

 

Erik Jones

18

5

 

Alex Bowman

18

3

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

16

4

 

Kurt Busch

15

4

 

William Byron

12

2

 

Jimmie Johnson

10

4

 

Austin Dillon

5

2

 

Matt DiBenedetto

5

1

 

Ryan Newman

5

1

 

Daniel Hemric

1

1

 

 

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.