The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, this week for the Duck Commander 500.
The race at Texas last April was dominated by Kyle Busch, who won the pole and led 171 of the 334 laps on his way to Victory Lane.
Many drivers in the race last spring were plagued by problems on pit road and issues with their cars. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran up front but had problems with his battery and was caught speeding on pit road. Jeff Gordon was competing for the lead when his front hub locked up. Tony Stewart slid through his pits and was forced to pit facing the wall. Martin Truex Jr. led 142 laps before a poor pit stop let Busch out of the pits ahead of him.
The race this week is 500 miles, so the key to winning will be avoiding costly mistakes on pit road and avoiding engines problems. The length of the race is hard on the engines and forces teams to stay focused for two extra pit stops.
The strategy for Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing this week is to select drivers who qualify up front and look fast in Happy Hour practice. Expect long runs Sunday and look for the drivers who have the fastest 10-lap average to lead the race. The drivers who can consistently run fast laps will be the drivers to select for your team.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live is to select a blend of drivers starting up front who can lead many laps and some drivers who may come from the back and earn bonus points for finishing differential.
Racing for the Win
1. Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie Johnson has the best stats at Texas, but that's true of Johnson at nearly every race track. In the last four races at Texas, he's won twice, has an average finishing of 2.5 and his driver rating is 20 points better than any other driver. So far, six different drivers have won the first six races. Johnson will make it seven for seven.
2. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth won seven races last year on the intermediate race tracks. He has not looked as strong this season, but he is getting closer to where he was in 2013. He finished 10th at Las Vegas and fourth at Auto Club Speedway. He will race Johnson to the checkered flag Sunday.
3. Kyle Busch: Busch could easily find his way back to Victory Lane this week. He won this race last year and won the last race on an intermediate race track at Auto Club Speedway. He also has the second-best driver average in the last four races at Texas. He would be an excellent choice for all fantasy teams this week.
4. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been fast at every race track this season, and he will be fast again Sunday. Track position won Busch the race at Texas last season, and Keselowski has a great chance to start up front this week. He qualified on the front row of both races on intermediate tracks this season, and he should qualify well Friday and lead many laps in the race. Keselowski should easily finish in the top five.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Earnhardt looked great at Las Vegas with his second-place finish, but he struggled at Auto Club Speedway, finishing in 12th place. His last win at Texas came in 2000, but he does have 13 top-10 finishes in his 23 career races at the race track. Earnhardt will run up front this week.
6. Joey Logano: Do not be surprised to see Logano in Victory Lane Sunday. He's struggled at this race track for most of his career but seemed to figure it out last season, finishing both Texas races in the top five in 2013. Expect Logano to qualify up front and run in the top 10 in this race.
7. Jeff Gordon: It took Gordon a long time to find his way to Victory Lane at Texas. After 16 races at the race track, Gordon finally won in 2009. Last season, he finished both races at Texas in 38th place. Gordon seems to have kick-started his career again this season, though, and will add another top-10 finish to his Texas resume.
8. Paul Menard: Menard is my sleeper pick this week; although, if you have been paying attention to his results on the intermediate race tracks this season, he should be a favorite. Menard finished third at Las Vegas and ninth at Auto Club Speedway. He will add another top-10 finish Sunday.
9. Carl Edwards: Edwards has not always run well at the intermediate race tracks this season, but he has been able to find his way to the front at the end of the race. He finished fifth at Las Vegas and 10th at Auto Club Speedway. It is not where a driver runs in the race but where he or she finishes that matters in fantasy racing.
10. Greg Biffle: Texas is one of Biffle’s best race tracks. In the last four races, he has the third-best average finishing position and the fifth-best driver rating. Biffle has finished 12 of his 20 races at Texas in the top 10. He should add another top-10 finish this week.
11. Kevin Harvick: Harvick has always had a fast car this season, but driving it to the checkered flag seems to be an issue for the team. I have a hard time trusting Harvick this season. Once he overcomes his mechanical issues for consecutive races, you can start selecting him for your team.
12. Ryan Newman: Newman ran well at Las Vegas and should run well at Texas this week. He finished both races at Texas in the top 10 last year. He may not finish in the top 10 this week, but he will be close.
13. Kasey Kahne: Kahne would be much higher on this list if I could trust him racing for 500 miles without any mistakes. He usually has a fast car at Texas but often encounters a problem before the checkered flag is waived.
14. Jamie McMurray: McMurray could be considered another sleeper this week. His stats at Texas are not very good, but he has been fast at both intermediate race tracks this season, and he finished sixth two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway. He will run in the top 15 this week.
15. Tony Stewart: Stewart has two wins at Texas in his career, but I would be surprised to see him add another Sunday. He has struggled this year on the intermediate tracks, despite his fifth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway. He gained his track position by taking two tires at the end of the race. At Las Vegas, Stewart finished 33rd. He will not be as good as he was at Auto Club, but he also won't be as bad as he was at Las Vegas. Expect Stewart to have a top-15 finish Sunday.
16. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won both races at Texas in 2010, but he's been average at the track ever since. In his last four races at Texas, Hamlin has only finished one in the top 10. He will finish in the top 20 this week.
17. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex had the best car in this race last year, but he lost the race on pit road to Kyle Busch. Truex is always good at Texas and should be higher on this list, but his Furniture Row Racing team has really struggled this year. He could end up in the top five Sunday, but it is hard to trust him.
18. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has yet to run well at an intermediate race track this season. He finished 23rd at Las Vegas and 16th at Auto Club Speedway. There is no reason to believe he will run up front Sunday.
19. Kurt Busch: Kurt Busch won at Texas in 2009, but it is not one of his better race tracks. In his last four races at Texas, he has only finished one race in the top 10. Do not expect Busch to win two races in a row.
20. Brian Vickers: Vickers ran well last April at Texas, starting 15th and finishing eighth. I would not expect the same results from him Sunday, however. His average starting position is 22.8, and his average finishing position is 22.6 at Texas. A top-20 finish would be an accomplishment.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Austin Dillon: Dillon raced in both races at Texas last year. He started 12th and finished 33rd in the first race and started 21st and finished 22nd in the second race. He would be a good value pick this week, as he's at his best on the intermediate race tracks.
22. Kyle Larson: Larson ran well at Las Vegas for a rookie. He started 17th and finished 19th. It would be wise to save him for later in the season and for the short race tracks, though. Expect a top-25 finish from him Sunday.
23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has not had any luck at Texas. Last year, he finished in last place in both races. And he struggled at Las Vegas earlier this season, finishing 27th. There are better race tracks at which to use Stenhouse.
24. AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger has an average starting position of 18.8 and an average finishing position of 21.6. Expect him to run near his average this week.
25. Danica Patrick: Could it be that Danica is finally becoming a useful driver for fantasy NASCAR teams? She finished 21st at Las Vegas and 14th Auto Club Speedway. She has figured out that avoiding wrecks will allow her to finish in the top 20.
26. Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose started last at Las Vegas and finished 24th. He probably will not start that far back at Texas, but his finishing position should be about the same.
27. Aric Almirola: Almirola finished 25th at Las Vegas and last at Auto Club Speedway. So far, the Richard Petty Motorsports cars have struggled at the intermediate race tracks. That will not change this week.
28. Casey Mears: Mears has a history of running well at Texas, but most of his good finishes came when he was racing for Hendrick Motorsports. Expect Mears to finish in the top 30 Sunday.
29.Trevor Bayne: Bayne has started seven races in his career at Texas in the Sprint Cup Series. He has an average starting position of 19.9 and an average finishing position of 21.1. Bayne would be a good choice if you want to save a start with Larson or Dillon in Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing.
30. Justin Allgaier: There is nothing special about Allgaier on the intermediate race tracks. He usually starts just inside the top 30 and finishes just inside the top 30.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson
Group B: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard
Group C: Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne
Fantasy Live Picks
Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Trevor Bayne, Reed Sorenson
Fox Fantasy NASCAR Picks
Captain: Brad Keselowski
Driver 2: Matt Kenseth
Driver 3: Kyle Busch
Driver 4: Joey Logano
Driver 5: Paul Menard
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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