NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500

If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!

numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes has you covered with his betting odds and form breakdown as well as his track preview to spotlight this week's venue. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

NASCAR's playoffs are down to eight drivers with one final round (and four final races) preceding 2021's championship event. The "Round of 8" starts two 1.5-mile intermediate ovals, and the first is at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. This fast, smooth track played host to the exciting 2021 All-Star Race in June, and this 333-lap event will be the first points race on the circuit this season.

With the race in June as well as a pair of events in 2020, there is no practice or qualifying for this weekend's race. The starting lineup was set by NASCAR's general qualifying formula. Kyle Larson, last week's winner, earned the pole position through the formula, and Denny Hamlin -- the last driver to win at a 1.5-mile race track -- will start outside in Row 1.

With all of this in mind, let's preview the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 in Texas on FanDuel.

High-Salaried Drivers

Kyle Larson ($14,500): The consensus favorite this weekend has to be Kyle Larson -- shocker. Larson won the All-Star Race on this configuration back in June, and that was mere weeks after he led 327 of 400 laps at the similarly smooth Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. On 550-horsepower tracks without heavy tire wear, Larson has been nothing short of dominant, and he starts from the pole position on Sunday. Larson likely would have won three weeks ago in Las Vegas if not for a strategy gaffe by his crew chief burying him in the field after 95 laps led. Larson is not strong at Martinsville -- the final race in this round -- and he has the maximum motivation to win at Texas or Kansas to clinch his championship spot before going to Martinsville.

Chase Elliott ($12,500): When factoring in both Charlotte and Las Vegas three weeks ago -- the last two 1.5-mile tracks without extreme tire wear -- the fastest combined car at both was Chase Elliott's. Elliott had the second-fastest median lap time at Las Vegas three weeks ago, and Elliott had the third-fastest mark at Charlotte behind teammates Larson and William Byron. Larson, Denny Hamlin ($13,500), and Kyle Busch ($13,000) have all won on 1.5-mile tracks, but in terms of raw speed, Elliott is right there amongst the group -- if not better. He deserves consideration equally amongst the obvious race-winning options. He starts 6th.

Others to Consider: Denny Hamlin ($13,500), Kyle Busch ($13,000)

Mid-Salaried Drivers

Kevin Harvick ($10,000): There is a perception that Kevin Harvick is down on 550-horsepower speed, and that might keep him lower in popularity than he should be from the 24th starting spot. Harvick had the 7th-fastest median lap time at Charlotte, and he had the 12th-fastest median lap time at Las Vegas three weeks ago. While not the dominant version of Harvick that has led hundreds of laps on these configurations historically, his salary is friendly enough for him to pay off without leading laps if he can score a top-10 finish. Harvick has done just that at Texas in 16 of the last 19 races held at the track.

Kurt Busch ($8,700): Although eliminated from the playoffs, Busch's highlight of 2021 was winning at Atlanta on the 1.5-mile circuit. He has been strong on this track type this year, as he also posted a ninth-place median lap time at Charlotte. And although his median lap time was just 20th at Las Vegas after fighting handling issues for much of the day, he still rebounded to finish 8th three weeks ago. Busch offers place-differential upside from the 17th starting spot, and his combination of place-differential upside, speed, and good Texas track history (eight straight top-10 finishes) is unmatched in this salary range.

Others to Consider: William Byron ($9,800), Alex Bowman ($9,200), Austin Dillon ($8,500)

Low-Salaried Drivers

Ross Chastain ($7,700): From 25th on the starting grid, Chastain is a high-floor play who is a great fit for cash games. Teammate Kurt Busch has had a myriad of success on 1.5-mile tracks this season, so the raw speed should be fine, but Chastain has performed better on short tracks and road courses this season. His 18th- and 21st-place median lap times at Charlotte and Las Vegas, respectively, do not inspire a ton of confidence, but they do edge out Aric Almirola ($8,000) in this same salary range, which is a fairly weak area for this weekend's race. Chastain made the most green flag passes in June's All-Star Race, so perhaps this is his best 1.5-mile track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($5,700): After a dismal outing at the road course -- and really a few in a row -- Stenhouse can be had at an affordable salary at his best track type. Stenhouse has four top-15 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks this year, and his speed (11th-best median lap time at Charlotte) indicates that those have not been lucky finishes. Stenhouse did not get to race in June's All-Star Race, but he did post a 12th-place finish in the 2020 fall race at Texas. He is sure to be popular, but from the 27th starting spot with realistic top-10 upside, he is hard to turn down in any format -- even with the earned nickname of "Wrecky Spinhouse."

Others to Consider: Aric Almirola ($8,000), Bubba Wallace ($7,000), Chase Briscoe ($6,700), Erik Jones ($6,000), Anthony Alfredo ($4,000)