|12/03/15||The Champion By NHMS Numbers|
|11/20/15||The Championship Four Preview|
|11/13/15||Phoenix: Three To Watch|
|10/30/15||Martinsville: Three To Watch|
|10/18/15||Kansas: Three To Watch|
|10/05/15||Charlotte: Three To Watch|
FANTASY: NASCAR Just Got Bigger
Texas has the reputation of going bigger in life than the other 49 states in the union. That will be evident this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
From the state that's brought us the Super Bowl/Final Four-hosting monstrosity of AT&T (Cowboys) Stadium and the Big Texan 72 oz. steak challenge (finish it in an hour and it's free), we now have the world's largest TV screen: The Big Hoss.
The screen dwarfs the once-largest TV in Texas at AT&T Stadium. It also shows some friendly one-upmanship in the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. family, as it takes over the designation as "World's Largest" from the TV screen on the back stretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
With size in mind, here's a look at who might go big in Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing this weekend:
The 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway falls into the cookie-cutter mold of an intermediate NASCAR track. It's the most common track layout in the series. Like Martinsville last week, it will host a race in the championship-shaping Eliminator Round of the Chase, so contenders will need to leave this weekend's race with a good idea of what will help them succeed in early November.
With six drivers having won the first six races, the Sprint Cup Series is getting to the point that there are enough winners with the opportunity to take chances that it might be noticeable on the track. Strategies might juxtapose one another as some teams try and take the safest route to the front, others look to the take the riskiest, and still others might be in the mode of trying to figure out how to best set up the car on intermediates with the goal of long-term success during the season. The X-Factor will be determining the drivers with the strategy that will be most successful in performance this weekend.
The intermediate tracks tend to have a pretty open field with a lot of competitive drivers. The track is large enough that it doesn't demand the most technical of driving skill, and a few good restarts can overcome lesser track position. Fantasy managers have a wide-variety of drivers to pick this weekend, and with that in mind, it might be best to save allocations on the top names.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - He has the highest career average finish at TMS with 8.3. That includes 13 top-fives in 23 starts.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - An exchangeable part with Kenseth, Johnson's career average finish of 8.7 at Texas makes him a great option. He has three wins at the track in 21 starts.
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - This pick is a little off the cuff, as Junior's 13.7 average finish at TMS puts him middle-of-the-pack for the A-list. However, he has 13 top-10s in 23 starts at the track, so he's got a better than 50/50 chance of achieving such a finish. Couple that with four top-fives in six races in 2014, and he quickly turns into the guy that might outperform Kenseth and Johnson.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - There are only so many weeks I feel like beating up poor Kasey Kahne in the "Park" section (he's struggling), so I'm going elsewhere. Gordon's 17.8 average finish at Texas makes him a target as someone to skip on this week.
- #11 Denny Hamlin - He left Martinsville disappointed after arriving with a car he thought could win that limped home in 19th. Hamlin often seems like a driver on the verge of a winning streak and with two careers victories at Texas, that could be this weekend.
- #16 Greg Biffle - This is probably his best track. His 12th-place finish at Texas last November snapped a streak of 10 consecutive top-10s at the track.
- #78 Martin Truex Jr. - If you're looking for a steal that other managers won't take, consider Truex. He has eight top-10s in 17 TMS starts and a 15.0 average finish that makes him competitive with much of the B-list.
- #99 Carl Edwards - He's an enigma at Texas. He won three of his first eight starts at the track but failed to register a top-10 in any of the other five starts. At this point, five years later, he now has 18 Texas starts under his belt, but no additional wins and a total of eight top-10s. It's an odd lack of consistency for a driver known for turning out uneventful top-10s.
- #1 Jamie McMurray - He doesn't have a single top-10 in his last 10 Texas starts.
- #31 Ryan Nemwan - With just five top-10s in 21 career starts at TMS, there will be plenty of better opportunities to start Newman.
- #3 Austin Dillon - You have to figure that the guy that wears a ten-gallon hat around the garage would be good in Texas, right? Also consider that he's ninth in the points, so he's having a strong rookie season.
- #21 Trevor Bayne - He has three finishes of 17th and one of 18th in seven career starts at Texas. That doesn't jump off the page, but it might just be enough to earn a start on a meager C-list.
- #10 Danica Patrick - After starting 10th at Martinsville, a six-lap-down, 32nd-place finish was not a positive. She's only finished on the lead lap once this season, so there's not a lot of upside to taking her.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily rank order.