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Victory Lane – AAA Texas 500
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr

NASCAR visits the Lone Star State for the penultimate race in the round of 8 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Kevin Harvick won the pole in dominating fashion, topping second place qualifier Erik Jones by 0.123 seconds. The cars were inspected before qualifying and the lineup is official. Texas is a 500 mile race, 334 laps, with lineup lock at 3pm eastern on Sunday. I like playing mostly cash games for this race (50/50s and double ups) with maybe 10% of my entry fees going into single entry tournaments. Let’s get started.

Kevin Harvick ($14,000/10,400) Kevin Harvick won the pole for the race and has a fast car this weekend. Stewart-Haas racing has stepped up its game recently and I think it will pay off with a win for Kevin Harvick on Sunday. I like Harvick to lead the most laps and win the race. He might not end up being the highest scoring driver in DFS, but I think he will be top 3 and well worth the risk of playing the pole sitter.

Martin Truex Jr. ($15,000/11,500) Truex qualified 17th and appears to be a lock for a top scoring DFS driver on Sunday. Truex ran practice speeds inside the top 10 in consecutive lap averages during final practice. I have confidence in the combination of Truex and Crew Chief Cole Pearn to adjust the car and have it running in the top 5 with a chance to win by the end of the race.

Kyle Larson ($12,000/9,200) Kyle Larson qualified 13th ran incredibly consistent lap times during final practice. While everyone else seemed to lose about a tenth of a second on average speed for every 5 laps run, Larson stayed consistent. Larson ran average lap times in the 28.90s from a 5 lap average through 30 lap average speed. For comparison, Kevin Harvick ran laps from 28.78 through 29.09 from 5-25 lap speeds. Larson’s issue at Texas has been staying out of trouble. Larson has crashed in 3 of his last 4 races at the track. In the race he didn’t crash, last fall, he finished 5th. If Larson stays out of trouble, I think he can contend for a top 5 finish at the end of the race.

William Byron ($10,000/8,000) I like William Byron this week, but not because he has shown exceptional speed in practice. I like Byron’s growing chemistry with Chad Knaus, I like his history at the track, and I like the momentum this team has after a second place finish at Martinsville. Byron ran practice speeds in the 10-13th range during final practice. I think Byron can improve on his 18th place starting position, but I’m not sure if he will be able to break inside the top 10, though a lot can happen in 500 miles.

Clint Bowyer ($8,500/8,800) There is a lot to like with Clint Bowyer this weekend at Texas. I’m not sure what happened to Bowyer in qualifying as he came to the line slow, and qualified 24th. This was surprising considering he was fastest in 10 and 15 lap average and 2nd fastest in 20 lap average (behind Larson) in final practice. Bowyer has run well in the last few spring races at Texas but has finished poorly in the last three fall races (26th, 36th, 25th). The poor finishes, along with the fact that he cost me dearly at Martinsville, are enough to keep me off of Bowyer on Sunday.

Paul Menard ($5,500/7,300) Starting 31st, Paul Menard is a valuable low risk play for Sunday. Menard ran practice speeds of 15th and 16th in 5 and 10 lap average during final practice. I think Menard can easily finish inside the top 20, maybe top 15 by the end of the race. I like locking Menard into my core lineup on Sunday.

Corey LaJoie ($3,000/5,900) Of all the bottom end drivers on Sunday, I like Corey LaJoie the best. $3k on Fan Duel, starting 33rd, I think LaJoie has a shot at staying on the lead lap for the first two stages and finishing in the mid 20s, 2-3 laps down. This is a low risk play that allows you to play 3 playoff drivers at the top end that have a shot to lead laps and win the race.

My core cash lineup includes Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Paul Menard. I think the decision lies between playing Kyle Larson, William Byron, and Clint Bowyer. Good luck to all our subscribers this weekend!

Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.