Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Overton's 400 Driver Preview
Two of the biggest pillars of driver selection in daily fantasy NASCAR are track history and current form. Knowing where drivers sit on both of those spectrums is going to make our lineups look a whole lot nicer at the end of the race.
By looking at which drivers have excelled at this week's track in the past and those who are currently racing well, we can know which drivers are in line to be good plays for the slate. That's what we're going to try to do today, dividing drivers into those two buckets with noteworthy track history or noteworthy current form.
Clearly, this isn't to say that all of these drivers will be great plays in this race. A lot of that will be dictated by where they start and the scoring history at that track. To read more about what strategies we need to deploy based on starting position, check out this week's track preview.
Later in the week, once qualifying is in the books, we'll go through the top plays for the race based on all of these factors. But which drivers should we be keying on for the time being? Let's check it out. Here are some of the drivers to monitor for the Overton's 400 in Chicagoland.
Martin Truex Jr. (FanDuel Price: $12,800): Even with a mountain of obstacles in his way, Martin Truex Jr. has won each of the past two races at Chicagoland. Combine that with his win last week, and you can see why he's the most expensive driver in the field.
In the 2017 race, Truex was caught speeding and forced to serve a penalty. He still managed to claw his way back and lead 77 of the final 78 laps.
The year before that, Truex had a flat tire early on that put him behind the ball. Once again, he overcome that and won it on a late-race restart.
The 78 team is yet to get a win at a 1.5-mile track this year, but they've been in the top five at four of the five races, including consecutive runner-up finishes. As long as Truex is fast in practice, it'll be hard to ignore him once again.
Chase Elliott ($10,600): If it weren't for the aforementioned late caution during the 2016 race, Chase Elliott would have gotten his first career Cup series victory. He's still searching for that win, but this track has been kind to him in each of his two trips.
After the 2016 disappointment, Elliott bounced back with a second-place finish at the track in 2017. The laps led have been there, too, with Elliott leading 75 laps in 2016 and 42 in 2017, meaning he would have been viable regardless of where he had started.
This year, though, things haven't gone as well for Elliott. He has been consistent, finishing 10th, 11th, or 12th in 4 of the races at 1.5-mile tracks, but he's never placed higher than that. He has also led just four laps at these tracks this year. Even with Elliott's past success at Chicago, we need him to be fast in practice or starting further back in order to love him for DFS.
Brad Keselowski ($11,100): Brad Keselowski has been close to victory lane at times this year, finishing second in Atlanta and fourth in Charlotte, both of which are 1.5-mile tracks. Chicagoland could be a good spot for him to notch that first win of the season.
Keselowski has won at this track twice in the past, back in 2012 and 2014. His success spans beyond the wins, though, with seven straight finishes of eighth or better. He was sixth here in the fall running.
Keselowski's current form is better than Elliott's, so he's not as dependent on a poor starting position to be viable. But starting near the back would make Keselowski an appealing play, and if he's fast in practice, he could be a contender to lead laps and snag that ever-important checkered flag. Keselowski's teammate, Joey Logano ($10,800), would be in the same discussion.
Jamie McMurray ($9,100): The overall current form for Jamie McMurray this year is mediocre, but he does have some good finishes at 1.5-mile tracks. He was third in Texas and sixth in Charlotte, so he can have an impressive outing. That's something he has done in Chicago in the past as well.
McMurray has had a top-15 average running position at each of the past 4 Chicago races, and he has been 11th or better in 3 of those. At this price, that can certainly work.
McMurray will need to start around 15th or lower to be in play for DFS because we know he's not going to lead laps. But he could be a decent value play if he does wind up starting there or flashes speed in practice.
Kevin Harvick ($12,300): The Cup series has been to five 1.5-mile tracks this year. Kevin Harvick has won three of those races, was second in another, and was dead last in the fifth (Kyle Busch ($11,900) won the other two). You can bet Harvick will be on our radar yet again this weekend.
Perhaps more important than the wins for Harvick, though, is the laps led. He has led at least 79 laps in each of the 1.5-mile races he has finished this year, averaging 14 FanDuel points per race on laps led alone. This makes him hard to fade no matter where he may start on Sunday.
Even if Harvick doesn't carry a ton of speed in practice, you'll need to use him in the race. He's too good right now to fade, and he could very well get his third career win at Chicagoland this weekend.
Ryan Blaney ($10,500): It has been feast or famine for Ryan Blaney all season long, and that's true at 1.5-mile tracks as well.
In the five races at tracks this size in 2018, Blaney has logged two top-five finishes at Las Vegas and Texas. But in the most recent two, he has finished 37th and 36th. Sub-Gucci.
But before Blaney ran into trouble in Kansas, he led 54 laps. He has had a top-seven average running position in four of the past six races, and his lone time outside of that at an oval in this stretch is when his engine caught fire in the Coca-Cola 600. Blaney's a darkhorse to lead some laps, so he could be in play regardless of starting position if he can show speed again in practice.
Erik Jones ($9,300): From a finishing perspective, Erik Jones likely doesn't belong in the section on drivers with good current form. He has finished outside the top 10 in 7 of the past 9 races, which won't work at this price. But the dude has been fast at 1.5-mile tracks, and that matters this week.
At the five 1.5-mile tracks this year, Jones has 3 top-10 finishes and another race with an 11th-place finish. He took home a 19th-place finish at Charlotte, but he was fastest in final practice and was running well before getting some fender damage. Don't get too turned off by Jones' mediocre finishes; he has been fast at relevant tracks, and we can't write him off for this week unless he struggles in practice.
Aric Almirola ($8,400): Chicago has never been a strong track for Aric Almirola, with his best finish here being 10th over 6 career races. But with his current form, that doesn't really matter.
Almirola's first season with Stewart-Haas Racing has been a success as he has already tied a career-high with 7 top-10 finishes. Two of those have been at 1.5-mile tracks, and he was just outside that in 13th in both Atlanta and Charlotte.
Even more impressively, Almirola's average running positions at the past two 1.5-mile tracks (Kansas and Charlotte) have been eighth and ninth, respectively. Almirola's a driver we can trust and use to save some salary if he starts outside the top 10.
Alex Bowman ($8,100): Alex Bowman ran at Chicagoland two years ago while filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he had an impressive race. He took home a 10th-place finish with an 11th-place average running position. Some of his recent races inspire confidence for this weekend as well.
In the Cup series' most recent race at a 1.5-mile track, Bowman managed to finish ninth. He had an average running position of 12th and ran 79.5% of the laps in the top 15, his third-highest rate of the entire season. It seems as if the Hendrick Motorsports cars are slowly coming around, and with Bowman's price still being low, he's a potential source of place-differential points if he starts outside the top 15.
Michael McDowell ($6,000): There seem to be four drivers worth heavy consideration below $7,000: Michael McDowell, David Ragan ($6,800), Trevor Bayne ($6,600), and Chris Buescher ($6,100). Any of them would be in play if they were to start toward the back. But McDowell has been the most impressive recently, and he's also the cheapest.
Overall, McDowell has rattled off 6 straight top-25 finishes, which is impressive for a driver at this price. If we look at just 1.5-mile tracks, he has been 20th or better in 3 straight, including a 14th-place finish in Texas. He needs to start outside the top 25 to be truly desirable (similar to the other drivers above), but he could be a huge aid to those who try to roll out a stars-and-scrubs lineup.