Coop’s Texas Race Preview
This week we are heading to Texas for the O’Rielly Auto Parts 500. This will be an abbreviated blog this week due to my love for the Masters as it has engulfed most of my time this week. This race consists of 334 laps on a 1.5 mile oval that has two races per year. We will be looking for dominators since we have 83.5 dominator points available. I took a look at the dominators over the last three years worth of races and the two races last year stuck out the most. Last year we saw at least three drivers lead 50+ laps in both races were the prior two years we saw only two dominators and in one race it was a single dominator. In addition last year it appears we had issues getting through qualifying as six big name drivers started near the rear in the spring and three in the fall. Looking at laps led it doesn’t appear this had any affect on the reason we saw three dominators last year as only one of the nine drivers starting near the rear led any laps. This would lead me to believe that stage racing, which was new last year, effected the amount of dominators. When you look at each race individually last year the spring race saw Ryan Blaney dominate the first half but then something happened to him which allowed two other drivers to lead significant laps. The fall race saw Kyle Larson lead a decent amount of laps from lap 50 to 170 but he eventually crashed out and when he wasn’t leading at the beginning of the race two other drivers split laps led. In the end Martin Truex dominated the second half of the race and led the most laps. So what does this mean for this year? I will still play the majority of my lineups with two dominators with some having three dominators and no lineups with a single dominators.
Determining the best dominators at this point is difficult as we have not seen any significant laps run in practice plus qualifying was cut short. This will make tomorrow’s practice runs extremely important and I would lean heavier on the second practice since it is being run closest to the time that the race will begin. All indicators at this point are saying that Kurt Busch has the fastest car but is closely followed by his teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. I wouldn’t play all three of these drivers on the same team but I wouldn’t have a problem creating a few with two of these drivers if you feel that two will lead significant amount of laps. All three of these drivers are some of the better drivers when we see long runs but I would give the edge to Harvick, then Bowyer, followed by Busch. I would think that Harvick draws the highest ownership of the three followed by Busch.
Ryan Blaney could end up being a sneaky dominator as he has shown this year he has a car that can compete with the best. Blaney is no stranger to leading laps at Texas as he led 148 last year and I can see him coming in as a moderately owned driver this week.
Martin Truex is the king of 1.5 mile race tracks over the last two years but he will have his work cut out this weekend getting pass the Stewart Haas trio as well as Blaney. Over the last two years Truex has been able to dominate these 1.5 mile tracks from either starting up front or from mid T10 position which is were he starts this week. How much Truex I have will depend on how practice works out on Saturday but I feel he is going to need some help from his pit crew to help get him to the lead.
Place Differential Drivers
Jamie McMurray should draw high ownership as he will be starting 24th and should be in a prime position to capture solid points.
Rickey Stenhouse should be the next driver to draw interest for players looking at point differential. Make sure you pay attention to how Stenhouse performs in practice tomorrow as this will determine if you should be over or underweight the field on him. Stenhouse’s teammate, Trevor Bayne appears to have a solid car which should mean we see solid speed out of Stenhouse.
Practice on Saturday will be very important for William Byron as he had some engine issues on Friday and will need practice to get everything on his car tuned up. Byron continues to get better each week and I am hoping that his engine issues keeps people away from him.
Michael McDowell and David Ragan should be popular drivers to help save salary as they are significantly cheaper than the three drivers above. How much I own these drivers will be determined by practice on Saturday as you need speed at Texas in order to stay on the lead lap. If these drivers don’t stay on the lead lap there upside is reduced because Texas is not a race that see’s high attrition.
Keep an eye on Paul Menard, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman tomorrow as they could be solid place differential drivers at lower ownership than the drivers mentioned above. Menard is driving for the team that Blaney was in last year when he led significant laps.
Upper Tier GPP Plays
Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski all start the race in 8th to 11th place and will see lower ownership due to Harvick, Truex and Chase Elliott being popular choices in better positions to either lead laps or gain point differential. All four of these drivers are risky choices because if they don’t lead laps there point differential total will probably not lead them to winning lineups due to there salary. Busch should be the highest owned of the three followed by Keselowski and they are the two drivers I prefer of the four as they have shown in the past they will try different strategies which could lead to laps led. Johnson and Larson really need to practice extremely well to convince me to play them but the ownership of the two should be significantly low for top tier driver quality. I also wouldn’t put any of these drivers on the same teams as it’s highly unlikely that two of them score high points. In addition I would be cautious of using them with Truex for the same reason.
I will try to check back in tomorrow evening to add thoughts post practice if time permits. All should be back to normal for next weeks blog for the Bristol race. Thanks