The Setup – AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500
By Tyler Miller

This weekend, NASCAR heads to Texas for a 500 mile race at Texas Motor Speedway. Earlier this year, Austin Dillon was able to stay out front after using pit strategy to win the race and earn an entry into the NASCAR playoffs. Track position will be key, as it was last Sunday at Kansas where it was nearly impossible to pass the leader once they were cleared after a restart. Kevin Harvick starts on the pole position and has won the last three fall races at Texas. Will he lead every lap en route to four straight on Sunday? Let’s get started.

Race Distance: 334 laps, Stage 1 ends on lap 105, Stage 2 ends on lap 210.
Lineup Lock 3:30 pm eastern Sunday
Spring Winner: Austin Dillon (Started 21st)
Spring Pole Sitter: Aric Almirola (Finished 10th)
Last year’s winner: (Spring/Fall) Denny Hamlin (Started 6th)/ Kevin Harvick (Started 1st)
Last year’s pole sitter: Jimmie Johnson (Finished 5th)/ Kevin Harvick (Finished 1st)

Prior race winners:
2018 Fall: Kevin Harvick (3rd)
2018 Spring: Kyle Busch (8th)
2017 Fall: Kevin Harvick (3rd)
2017 Spring: Jimmie Johnson (24th)

Kansas Recap:
What went right?

Kansas was a complete debacle. From last week’s article, Kyle Busch was the best play, followed by Alex Bowman, John Hunter Nemechek, and Michael McDowell. Busch scored the 3rd most points on Fan Duel with his 5th place finish. Bowman finished 3rd in the race, 5th in Fan Duel scoring. Nemechek and McDowell were 17th and 19th which was solid, given their starting positions and salary. Matt Kenseth was highly owned and finished dead last. Avoiding him last week was the right move.

What went wrong?
It seemed like Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin took turns having issues and killing my lineup. Jones had a problem, rebounded to get on the lead lap and then Hamlin had a problem and just as Hamlin was able to get back on the lead lap, Jones had another problem. It was messy, but both cars showed top 5 speed at times during the race. Jones finished stage 1 5th before having problems in stage 2. Hamlin finished stage 1 3rd and won stage 2 before having problems in the final stage. Jimmie Johnson also had problems late and completely killed any hopes of cashing last week.

What Vegas thinks (Opening lines via MGM)
No surprise, Harvick is the odds on favorite to win Texas for the 4th consecutive fall race. If I’m betting this, I’m looking long and hard at Kyle Busch at 12-1. This has been a good track for Busch over the years and 12-1 seems like too good of odds for Kyle who is super motivated to win his first race of the year and continue his streak of winning in every season of his career.

Kevin Harvick 13-5
Denny Hamlin 5-1
Joey Logano 7-1
Chase Elliott 10-1
Martin Truex Jr. 10-1
Ryan Blaney 11-1
Kyle Busch 12-1
Brad Keselowski 16-1
Erik Jones 18-1
Kurt Busch 20-1

Driver Ratings at Texas:
1. Kyle Busch 102.4
2. Matt Kenseth 102.3
3. Jimmie Johnson 101.3
4. Kevin Harvick 97.8
5. Erik Jones 94.3
6. Martin Truex Jr. 93.4
7. Ryan Blaney 91.4
8. Kurt Busch 90.5
9. Joey Logano 90.0
10. Chase Elliott 88.6
11. Denny Hamlin 88.6
12. Tyler Reddick 88.1
13. Brad Keselowski 85.6
14. Clint Bowyer 84.5
15. William Byron 82.3

Average Running Position
1. Matt Kenseth 9.727
2. Erik Jones 10.865
3. Kyle Busch 10.915
4. Kevin Harvick 11.947
5. Jimmie Johnson 12.270
6. Martin Truex Jr. 12.463
7. Chase Elliott 12.777
8. Kurt Busch 13.156
9. William Byron 13.454
10. Denny Hamlin 14.456
11. Joey Logano 14.624
12. Tyler Reddick 15.246
13. Clint Bowyer 15.286
14. Ryan Blaney 15.690
15. Brad Keselowski 16.430

Laps Led
1. Jimmie Johnson 1152 (11.1 percent of laps run)
2. Kyle Busch 959 (9.9)
3. Matt Kenseth 733 (8.5)
4. Brad Keselowski 654 (8.2)
5. Kevin Harvick 652 (6.3)
6. Martin Truex Jr. 620 (6.2)
7. Joey Logano 465 (5.8)
8. Ryan Blaney 383 (10.5)
9. Kurt Busch 383 (10.5)
10. Denny Hamlin 288 (3.0)
11. Clint Bowyer 124 (1.2)
12. Erik Jones 110 (4.1)
13. Aric Almirola 100 (1.6)

Spring Top 10:
1. Austin Dillon
2. Tyler Reddick
3. Joey Logano
4. Kyle Busch
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Erik Jones
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Kurt Busch
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Aric Almirola

2019 Fall Top 10:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Aric Almirola
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Joey Logano
5. Alex Bowman
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Kurt Busch
10. Erik Jones

2019 Spring Top 10:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Erik Jones
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. William Byron
7. Aric Almirola
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Kurt Busch
10. Kyle Busch

2018 Fall Top 10:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Ryan Blaney
3. Joey Logano
4. Erik Jones
5. Kyle Larson
6. Chase Elliott
7. Kurt Busch
8. Aric Almirola
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Austin Dillon

Kevin Harvick ($14,000/11,000) With wins in each of the last three fall races at Texas, Harvick is the top play. Starting first, I expect Harvick to lead a lot of laps and be competitive throughout the day. There is some risk here because of the first starting position, but I anticipate Harvick to be highly owned which will bode well in the rare event that he has an issue (Not counting Daytona and Talladega, Harvick hasn’t had a bad finish since he finished a lap down, 26th at Homestead on June 14th).

Kyle Busch ($11,300/9,300) I’m high on Kyle Busch this week. I think this team wins a race before the end of the season and I think he has a great chance at Texas. Kyle has 3 wins at Texas but they all came in the spring (2013, 2016, and 2018). He led 11 laps and finished 4th in the spring. This team has been running well of late (not counting Talladega or the Roval) finishing 7th at Darlington, 6th at Richmond, 2nd at Bristol, 6th at Las Vegas, and 5th last Sunday at Kansas. I think Kyle leads some laps and finishes top 5, maybe even top 3 with a chance to win.

Denny Hamlin ($13,300/10,800) I’m torn on Hamlin because his issue ended up really costing me at Kansas last weekend. Hamlin has shown strength at intermediate tracks this year but he finished a lap down in 20th position earlier this year at Texas. Hamlin had a good car last week at Kansas, winning a stage and leading 58 laps. I think he can do well at Texas, but the stats don’t really back him up.

Matt Kenseth ($7,200/7,100) We avoided a bullet last week by fading Kenseth at Kansas. Kenseth started 30th and was highly owned (over 50% in cash games). He got in a wreck early, not of his own doing, and finished last. This week he starts 32nd and I am in on it, particularly in cash games where if he is 50% owned again, he has to be played because he has top 15 potential. Unlike Jimmie Johnson, Kenseth’s salary enables you to use him and still play 3 top guys that have a chance to win the race.

Joey Logano ($13,000/9,800) I think Logano is a nice alternate to Harvick if you are looking to be contrarian. I wouldn’t do it in cash, but in a single entry contest, or a limited multi-entry environment, I like using Logano and the next three guys I have listed (Bowman, Jones, Johnson), because they will be lowered owned and if everybody plays Harvick and Kenseth and you play Logano, Bowman, and Johnson, you could have a clear path to the top of the board.

Alex Bowman ($10,000/9,100) Bowman has been solid all year long. I like him this week, though it’s a little bit risky since he is starting 5th and he finished 30th at Texas earlier this year. For what it’s worth, Bowman started 5th and finished 5th in this race a year ago. He is also coming off a 3rd place finish at Kansas last week. I like Bowman to run inside the top 10 and if he can stay out of trouble, he could be a solid contender for a 5th-8th place finish Sunday.

Erik Jones ($10,700/8,900) Texas has been a good track for Erik Jones in his career with 6 straight top 10s coming into Sunday’s race. Jones has completed all but 1 lap in his career at Texas and led 110 laps in 8 races (leading laps in 4 of his last 5 races). Starting 17th, Jones could be a solid play on Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson ($9,800/9,400) I’m not sure what to do with Jimmie Johnson. Starting 26th, Johnson seems like he’d be a good play at a track where he has dominated in the past. Johnson has 7 wins at Texas, most recently in the spring of 2017. However, these are his Texas finishes since his last win: 27th, 35th, 15th, 5th, 34th, 26th. If Johnson was the same price as Kenseth I’d probably play him over Matt, but since he is 2k more expensive, I like Matt over Jimmie, but if you are doing multiple lineups, you need some exposure to him.

Corey LaJoie ($4,000/5,6000) Corey Lajoie is way too cheap on Fan Duel. LaJoie finished 16th at Texas earlier this year. I don’t expect a top 20 finish, but I would take any positive differential from a 4k driver and be happy. If you are looking for value, I like LaJoie, Yeley, or Preece (DK only). I think LaJoie can score more points than Yeley. I think Preece scores more than both of them, but his salary on Fan Duel makes him less attractive.

I like a lineup build with 3 guys who have a chance at leading the most laps and winning the race, one super value, and Matt Kenseth. Good luck to all our subscribers today!

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