NASCAR FANTASY LIVE PICKS, 2015 TEXAS, AAA TEXAS 500

Matching the headlines for the last three weeks in the Chase will be difficult.

I am stuck somewhere between thinking Kenseth was justified to wreck Logano and upset because Logano was in every one of my fantasy lineups last week. We will see what else can happen this week in Texas, and Homestead will be interesting between the #22 and #20 if Logano fails to advance to the final round.

With only three races remaining in the NASCAR season, there is little opportunity to gain in your standings. Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead are all races that favor the frontrunners. Your best hope, if you are behind in the standings, is to select drivers who are under-the-radar and hope that you get lucky. My suggestion in Texas, like most weeks, is to front-load your lineup with the top-3 drivers and fill out your roster with two budget options. The next few weeks will be tense for Fantasy owners who are close in the standings, and choosing wisely will be critical as the season comes to a close.

For the top-3 spots, I am leaning towards drivers who are still in Chase contention. There are non-Chase drivers who can certainly find success, but I like to pick drivers who are racing for a Championship. Even with the events from last week, keeping Joey Logano out of your lineup is risky. Not only is he on a hot streak, but he also finds success in Texas. Over the last five Texas races, Logano for four top-5 finishes and maintains a 5th place average. He has only led 129 laps in this stretch, so he has seen consistent efforts that are not dominating. Early this year, Logano finished in 4th while staying in the top-15 for all of his laps. For large oval tracks, Logano has a 5th place average finish and has led the most laps in the series. Logano’s 7th place average finish position in 2015 is best in the series.

The combination of track success, season success, and track type success provides Logano with a high probability of success this week. The only risk with Logano this week’s is that the Martinsville drama carries over into Texas, and his performance is somehow affected. I do not anticipate this will be the case and am comfortable with Logano in my lineup.

For the second roster spot, I am going to lean on the driver who has helped my roster this entire season. Kevin Harvick does not have consistent success at Texas, but he did finish 2nd earlier in 2015. Over the last five Texas races, Harvick has two top-5 finishes and a 13th place average finish position. These numbers are not enough to convince you to roster him, but enough to show that Harvick is competitive in Texas. On large oval tracks this season, Harvick has led the most laps of any driver. Even though Logano now has a better average finish position now in 2015, Harvick has still led the most laps of any driver in 2015. Harvick is on the bubble to advance in the chase right now. Harvick is dominant on next week’s race in Phoenix, and I would expect a more conservative approach towards this week.

Jimmie Johnson was strongly considered for my 3rd roster recommendation due to his victory earlier this season. Down the stretch, the #48 team has finished worse than their average on a consistent basis so I am staying away from the team unless I see something in qualifying to change my mind. Of the Chase eligible driver, the one who finds the most consistency in Texas is Kyle Busch. Over the last five Texas races, Kyle Busch finish has three top-5 finishes and has a 5th place average finish. Busch missed the race earlier this season due to a broken leg. His numbers at large oval tracks and 2015 are not enough to warrant a start. Due to these number, Busch carries more risk than the other drivers suggested, but I feel he is the best option of the Chase eligible drivers. This is his best chance for an automatic qualifier and expect Kyle Busch to be aggressive this week.

Selecting three Chase eligible drivers uses the majority of my salary cap. As a result, the final two roster spots will be the best available budget options. David Ragan has not seen consistent success in Texas, with a 29th place average finish position over the last five races. With Kyle Busch’s team, Ragan finished 13th earlier in 2015. He is hovering around a 25th average finish position in 2015, and should provide enough value for his salary cap figure. There is not another budget driver I love, but will tentatively suggest Matt DiBenedetto until at least qualifying. DiBenedetto finished in 34th place earlier in 2015. This finish will only be value if he qualifies in the back of the field. I will keep an eye on qualifying and may start the 43rd driver in an effort to find value in start-to-finish differential.

FANTASY NASCAR LIVE SALARY CAP

Fantasy Live on nascar.com uses a scoring system that combines fast laps, laps led, finish position, and start-to-finish differential. In order to prevent us from starting the best drivers each week, Fantasy Live uses a salary cap format to manage the talent on our rosters. Our formula calculates the average number of Fantasy Live points earned by each driver over the last five Texas races. Next, we divide the average points earned by the salary cap figure to determine which drivers provide the best value in Texas. Jimmie Johnson narrowly missed my roster because I am keeping non-Chase eligible drivers off my roster. As a consolation prize, I will use Johnson’s impressive Texas numbers to further illustrate the formula.

JIMMIE JOHNSON AT TEXAS

  • Average finish position last five Texas races: 6.8 equals 37.2 points per race
  • Start-to-finish differential: Zero equals zero points per race
  • Laps led: 574 equals 57.4 points per race
  • Fast laps: 254 equals 25.4 points per race
  • Total Fantasy Live points per race: 120
  • Fantasy Live salary cap figure: $24.50
  • Fantasy Live points divided by salary cap figure: 120 divided by $24.50 equals 4.9 points

Below you see the Fantasy Live rankings for each driver over the last five races at Texas. If you are wanting to take risks, you can take a driver with the 5th or 6th best numbers in hope that the unexpected happens. We are talking Fantasy racing, so there is always the possibility of getting lucky.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Jimmie Johnson 4.90
  • Kyle Busch 3.01
  • Brad Keselowski 2.33
  • Joey Logano 2.24
  • Kevin Harvick 1.69
  • Denny Hamlin 1.55
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.23
  • Jeff Gordon 1.16
  • Kurt Busch 0.64

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Martin Truex Jr. 2.11
  • Clint Bowyer 1.86
  • Kasey Kahne 1.84
  • Kyle Larson 1.64
  • Ryan Newman 1.51
  • Jamie McMurray 1.45
  • Aric Almirola 1.29
  • Carl Edwards 1.12
  • Paul Menard 0.81

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Greg Biffle 2.33
  • Sam Hornish Jr. 1.38
  • Austin Dillon 1.20

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • AJ Allmendinger 2.68
  • Tony Stewart 2.35
  • Cole Whitt 1.84
  • Danica Patrick 1.69
  • Justin Allgaier 1.39
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.30
  • Trevor Bayne 1.17
  • Casey Mears 1.16
  • Ryan Blaney (-1.83)

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Reed Sorenson 2.65
  • Michael Annett 2.64
  • Joey Gase 2.57
  • Matt DiBenedetto 2.32
  • David Gilliland 2.24
  • JJ Yeley 2.20
  • Brett Moffitt 1.93
  • David Ragan 1.93
  • Landon Cassill 1.61
  • Michael McDowell 0.98
  • Alex Bowman 0.83

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