Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - Auto Club 400
Chris Durell will be bringing you his weekly race breakdown, top trends, and pre-qualifying targets to help you cash on DraftKings and FanDuel. You can also grab a copy of his free DFS NASCAR Cheatsheet that includes a ton of stats and a customizable model.
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Auto Club 400
Auto Club Speedway - Fontana, CA
Track - 2 Mile D-Shaped Oval
This week the Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400. Like the Las Vegas race, the teams will be using the full 2019 rules package with the tapered spacer to reduce horsepower to 550, taller rear spoiler, wider radiator pan, and air ducts on the front. All to create more downforce and closer racing and with this being a two-mile track with multiple lanes we could most definitely see more drafting this week when compared to the mile and half Vegas race.
For fantasy, I think we see two to three dominators as once a car gets out front it is very hard to pass them. Passing can still be done(see Kyle Busch over Ryan Blaney last week) it is just much harder now with the new package. In Vegas, with this package both race winner Joey Logano and 4th place Kevin Harvick led 86 and 88 laps respectively. In that Vegas race there were four drivers(Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Almirola, Truex) to pick up double-digit place differential in that race but qualifying was very unusual putting those fast cars back in the field.
Let's jump in and take a look at some track history, current form, and then get into the picks.
Last Six Winners at Auto Club Speedway
- 2018 - Martin Truex Jr. (started 1st, led 125 laps)
- 2017 - Kyle Larson (started 1st, led 110 laps)
- 2016 - Jimmie Johnson (started 19th, led 25 laps)
- 2015 - Brad Keselowski (started 8th, led 1 lap)
- 2014 - Kyle Busch (started 14th, led 5 laps)
- 2013 - Kyle Busch (started 4th, led 125 laps)
Track History at Auto Club Speedway
This track has hosted a Cup series race annually(twice a year from 2004-2010) since 1997 and no driver has been as dominant as Jimmie Johnson. In those 29 races, he leads the way with six career wins(the most recent coming in 2016), 13 Top 5's, 17 Top 10's, and a crazy 7.21 average finish.
The only other active driver with multiple wins at the track is Kyle Busch with three, his most recent coming in back to back fashion in 2013 and 2014. He is also to second to Johnson in laps led here with 673(Johnson-980).
Looking at the last two years here at ACS, the winner has come from the pole position with Martin Truex Jr. leading 125 laps last year and Kyle Larson leading 110 in 2017 en route to the win. Teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are the only other two drivers to finish Top 5 in each of the last two races.
Ryan Blaney was caught up in a crash in his first trip to Fontana back in 2016 but has rebounded with back to back Top 10 finishes.
Track Type History(Two-Mile Intermediate)
I won't be factoring much track type history this week or any week until we get more data from this new package. Looking at the results from the two tracks in this category(Michigan, Auto Club) over the last two years, Kyle Busch has been the most consistent with a 5.6 average finish despite no wins but is the only driver with a Top 10 in all six races. Looking at the win category, no has even been close to Kyle Larson who has three in those six races(Auto Club-1 Michigan-2)with an 8.3 average finish. Chase Elliott and Joey Logano join Kyle Busch as the only other drivers with at least five Top 10's in those last six races and Logano also has three Top 5's in that time.
We are now four races into the season and while it was maybe controversial me saying JGR was the top team last week, I think that is clear now. Kyle Busch picked up his first win of the season last week in Phoenix and is the only driver with a Top 10 in every race and is also the only driver with three Top 5's. It is not only Busch performing for JGR either as Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. sit 4th and 5th in the standings, Hamlin with a win, two Top 5's and three Top 10's while Truex sits with two Top 5's and three Top 10's as well.
Team Penske is still right there as Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski each have a win and two Top 5's with Joey sitting second overall as he has a third Top 10. Ryan Blaney had a rough start to the season but rebounded with a 3rd place finish at Phoenix last week while leading 94 laps along the way.
Stewart-Haas Racing is up next as they have two drivers inside the Top 10 in the standings. Kevin Harvick sits 3rd with two Top 5's and three Top 10's while Aric Almirola sits 7th with one Top 5 and three Top 10's.
The only other team with two drivers sitting Top 10 in the standings and my pre-season sleeper is Chip Ganassi Racing. Kyle Larson has just two Top 10's but the third-best average finish(9.3) while Kurt Busch has two Top 5's, three Top 10's, and a 10.0 average finish.
Early Weekend Targets
Kyle Busch/Martin Truex Jr.
Hard to fade Busch at the top this week as he is on one of his runs where his bad races(according to him) are still Top 5 finishes. He has excellent track history as well finishing 3rd last year and has finished Top 10 in six of his last seven races here with back to back wins in 2013 and 2014. It was a funky qualifying on Friday where none of the final 12 drivers recorded a time in the final round. With that they turned to the second round results and Busch will start 4th giving him a terrific shot to get the lead early and we know what he can do with that.
The chalk play of the week will be Truex who lost speed in a pass in round one of qualifying and never made it to the second round and will start 27th. That is elite place differential for a driver who dominated this race last year with 125 laps led en route to victory.
Brad Keselowski/Joey Logano
If you are planning on fading Busch in your lineups, stacking the Top 2 Penske drivers is a great way to go this week. Keselowski comes back to Fontana with a win in 2015 and has finish Top 10 in four straight with three Top 5's while Logano also has Top 10's in four straight here. Like I mentioned above in the form section, both have wins and have had excellent starts to the season as well.
After two straight disappointing finishes at Atlanta(24th) and Las Vegas(19th), Jimmie rebounded with a Top 10 at ISm Raceway last week. He now returns to a track where he has won a whopping six times with the most recent coming in 2016. He will start 11th this week so a Top 10 is positive place differential and it was positive to see him lead opening practice. It will be something to watch through the final two practices.
Menard has yet to record a Top 10 this season but comes at a low price on both sites and helps you fill out your roster. On top of that, he starts 24th and comes back to Auto Club Speedway with Top 20 finishes in seven of his last eight races here with three Top 10's.
Below you will find a copy of my DFS NASCAR Cheatsheet which includes Track History, Current Form, DraftKings points averages, Track Type History, Practice/Qualifying Ranks and much more. Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for five years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is an active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jager_Bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.
- NASCAR Homestead Auto Racing: (AP Photo/Terry Renna)