The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be under the lights Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway for the NRA 500.
Texas is one of the fastest racetracks on the circuit and produces some of the best racing. Although it is considered a “cookie cutter” racetrack, it is much different than the other 1.5-mile racetracks. The speeds through turn one make turn two one of the hardest in the series. Teams must set their cars up to navigate the tricky turn.
This week the handling of the car will be as important as horsepower. The teams who are able to show up at the racetrack with a good setup in the car will dominate the race. Drivers who have had a history of success at Texas Motor Speedway will be the drivers to select for your team.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live game should be to select at least two drivers who will start in the back half of the field and have a good chance to work their way to the front. This will give your team the opportunity to score points for quality passes and finishing differential. Also, try to pick two drivers who will start up front and have a chance to lead many laps in the race.
Since the race is on Saturday night, fantasy NASCAR players will have an opportunity to see two practice sessions on Thursday before their Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing lineup must be selected on Friday morning. Make sure you check out the practice speeds on nascar.com before selecting your final lineup.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game.
Group A is filled with drivers who have had success at Texas Motor Speedway. The question fantasy NASCAR players will have to answer is: Should you use another start with Jimmie Johnson this week?
Johnson is one of the best drivers at Texas Motor Speedway. He has two wins, nine top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 19 career races at the racetrack. Other drivers in Group A also have good stats at the track.
If your team needs to make up points in your league, use Johnson this week. If you have a comfortable lead over the competition, take a chance on another driver and save an allocation with Johnson.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career stats at Texas Motor Speedway.
Brad Keselowski will not be a popular pick this week because his stats at Texas Motor Speedway are not good. He has one top-five finish in nine career starts there.
Keselowski is my selection for Group A because he figured out in the second half of the season last year how to win at the cookie-cutter racetracks. In his last race at Texas Motor Speedway, Keselowski started No. 8 and finished No. 2. I look for a similar performance from him on Sunday.
Matt Kenseth is the best option in Group A this week. Not only did he already win at a cookie-cutter racetrack this season (Las Vegas), he has the best stats in the series at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kenseth has two wins, 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 finishes in his 21 career races at the racetrack. In the last four races at the racetrack, Kenseth has the second-best average starting position of 4.8 and the series-best average finishing position of 3.5.
Kenseth will be a great option for your team this week.
My prediction this week is that the winner of the NRA 500 will come from Group B. Many of the drivers in this group have had a lot of success at the racetrack. It will not be hard to find a good driver for your team this week.
If you want to use a driver that other teams in your league may not have this week, use Paul Menard. Menard is off to the best start of his career and finished both of the races at the 1.5-mile racetracks this season in the top 10. He will finish near the top 10 again this week.
My sleeper pick this week is Kurt Busch. He has one win, three top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes in his 20 career races at Texas Motor Speedway. He finished eighth in his last race at Texas and fifth in his last race at a 1.5-mile racetrack.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based on their career stats at Texas Motor Speedway.
No driver in the series has more wins at Texas Motor Speedway than Carl Edwards. He has finished both of the races this season at 1.5-mile racetracks in the top five, and he will do it again this week.
Edwards has three wins, five top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes in his 16 career races at the racetrack. In the last four races at the track, Edwards has the fourth-best average starting position of 9.5 and the fourth-best average finishing position of 7.2.
Even when Edwards struggled last year, he still had a good finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
The best time to use Greg Biffle is at the 1.5-mile racetracks. He has had success at those tracks in his career, and Texas Motor Speedway is one of his best.
Biffle has two wins, seven top-5 finishes, 11 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 18 career races at Texas Motor Speedway. He is also the defending race winner of the spring race in Texas. In the last four races at the racetrack, Biffle has a series-best average starting position of 3.8 and the second-best average finishing position of 5.1.
He has had an up-and-down season in 2013. He will be up Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been good at Texas Motor Speedway. He has finished in the top 10 in five of the last six races at the track. He should make it six of the last seven after Sunday’s race.
Earnhardt has one win, three top-five finishes, 12 top-10 finishes and two poles in his 21 career races at Texas Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt does not always start up front at Texas Motor Speedway, but he usually finds his way to the front at the end of the race. In the last four races at the track, Earnhardt has an average starting position of 19.8 and an average finishing position of 8.2.
Last week was a bad week for Earnhardt, but he will bounce back at Texas Motor Speedway.
If your fantasy NASCAR team is like mine, you have already used Kyle Busch a lot this season. The other selections for Group B should perform well enough for me to leave Busch on the bench, but just in case they do not, Busch is a great backup plan.
Busch has five top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes in his 15 career races at Texas Motor Speedway. In the last four races at the track, Busch has the seventh-best average starting position of 10.3 and the sixth-best average finishing position of No. 10.
Busch has been one of the best drivers in the series the past three races. He will contend for his second win of the season Saturday night.
Other good choices: Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin, Kurt Busch and Paul Menard.
After five weeks of uncertainty, Group C is finally beginning to take shape. The best drivers for the group will be Ricky Stenhouse, Casey Mears and whichever driver is in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing car. Last week, Regan Smith drove the car and this week AJ Allmendinger will be back in the seat.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway, but he does have six career starts in the Nationwide Series at the racetrack. In his six starts, Stenhouse has one win, one top-five finish and four top-10 finishes.
Stenhouse will finish in the top 15 Saturday night.
AJ Allmendinger returns to the No. 51 Phoenix Racing car after a week racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park.
Allmendinger has been good every time he has driven the No. 51 car this season. He has started three races in 2013 and finished all of them in the top 16. That is not bad for a driver in Group C.
Allmendinger will have another top-20 finish Saturday night.
Other good choices: Casey Mears
2012 Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Pole Sitter: Martin Truex Jr. 196.235 MPH
2012 Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Winner: Greg Biffle, Started No. 3
Most Wins at Texas—Active Drivers: Carl Edwards (3)
Most Poles at Texas—Active Drivers: Jeff Gordon (3)
Most Top 10s at Texas—Active Drivers: Matt Kenseth (13)
Most Top 5s at Texas—Active Drivers: Matt Kenseth (10)
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Matt Kenseth 2002, started No. 31
Races Won from the Pole: 1 of 24
Races Won from Top Five: 15 of 24
Races Won from Top 10: 18 of 24
Victories by manufacturer: Ford (11), Chevrolet (8), Dodge (3), Toyota (2), others (17)
Victories by (active) owner: Jack Roush (9), Rick Hendrick (5), Joe Gibbs (3), Roger Penske (2), Richard Childress (1), Stewart Haas (1)
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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