Welcome fellow race fans to FakePigskin’s coverage of NASCAR DFS for the 2018 season! Kevin Harvick continues to win so hopefully something changes this weekend or Nascar will become Formula 1 where only one driver/team wins the majority of the races…
For those of you not familiar with how NASCAR DFS is played, here is the basic rundown of how it works:
- You must select five to six drivers to race, but each driver has a salary assigned to them and you must fit their salaries within a $50,000 cap, so you cannot just load up on the top five to six drivers in the points standings.
- Points are scored by a driver’s place differential (Starting position -finishing position), fastest laps posted, laps led, pass differential (amount of cars passed – times being passed), and their finishing position.
- You will need to find the balance of your front running drivers along with your sleeper drivers you can count on to out perform their salary ranking and finish in the top 15.
The Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series is in race three of the “West Coast Swing” of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, newly renamed (well…sponsored) ISM Raceway in Phoenix, and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It’s a tough task for many teams since most teams are located in North Carolina to either travel across the country multiple times or stay away from home for multiple weeks. This week, the series is at Auto Club Speedway, formerly California Speedway, also known as the final race in Pixar’s Cars movie. Auto Club Speedway is a 2-mile “D-Shaped” oval with very old asphalt (like the rest of the Los Angeles streets) wears tires very quickly, that causes a major decrease in speed and lap time. The old racing surface leads to multiple racing grooves that provide the drivers many options to run their cars in the corners. This can lead to exciting three to four-wide racing and also sometime long green flag runs since cars are not running on top of one another.
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Kevin Harvick has won all of the races where you actually have to lift off the gas pedal and use any brake and is looking to continue his redemption from his post Las Vegas race penalty. After last week’s win at ISM Raceway (Phoenix), Harvick got out of his car and hit his back window to show that it was legal and called out the haters in his victory lane interview. Harvick was fastest in practice Friday morning, but will he be the pick this week? Qualifying for Sunday’s race became a calamity when only 24 of the 37 cars made a qualifying attempt due to the remaining 13 cars not passing pre-qualifying inspection in time to record a lap. Drivers such as Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer (second in the first practice), and Alex Bowman will be starting in the back of the field. This is a week to gain points based on the place differential.
Just like each NASCAR DFS race, my picks are separated into three stages, my All Stars, Solid Performers, and Sleepers. Drivers, let’s start making money!
Kevin Harvick ($11,500): Like a gambler on a hot streak, or Steph Curry draining threes, or my NCAA bracket, Kevin Harvick is on fire! Harvick is the first driver since Harry Gant in the early 1990s to win three straight races past the age of 40. After an up and down decade at Richard Childress Racing, Harvick has been reborn since joining Stewart-Haas racing, winning his first championship with the team in 2014. Harvick’s value only went up $100 since last week which still makes him a value. As stated above, Harvick was the fastest in Friday morning’s first practice session and qualified 10th. Harvick has led 142 laps in his last two starts at Auto Club Speedway and has averaged a seventh place finish. If he’s not contending for the win, Harvick should be battling in the top three all day.
Kyle Larson($10,000): After a strong first segment last week at ISM Raceway, Larson faded terribly to an 18th place finish. Larson won last year’s race and has led 110 laps in the last two Auto Club races. Larson was fifth in the first practice and qualified third for the race. Look for Larson to run his preferred higher groove in order to battle for the lead.
Joey Logano ($9,300): In the last two Auto Club Races, Logano has the top ranked average finish of 4.5, a fourth and a fifth place finish, very consistent! Logano has also qualified 6th for Sunday’s race. my All Stars are the same as they were last week, but the values fall in the right place in order for that to happen.
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Aric Almirola ($8,500): Almirola has probably gained the most fans this season after his heart breaking result at the Daytona 500 where he was leading into turn three before he was wrecked by Austin Dillon. Almirola has turned around the 10 car, previously driven by Danica Patrick, to much better results in just a few races. Though Almirola has averaged a 20th place finish in his last two Auto Club starts, his worst finish this season is a 13th! Almirola was third fastest in Friday morning’s practice, but his car did not pass pre-qualifying inspection and he will start 27th. Look for Almirola to come through the field and get some bonus points for passing a lot of cars!
Clint Bowyer ($8,000): If Aric Almirola is the most improved driver this year, Clint Bowyer is a close second. All of the Stewart-Hass cars this season (Harvick, Almriola, Bowyer, and Kurt Busch) has been strong every week. Bowyer finished a strong 3rd at Atlanta, another track with a very abrasive surface. Bowyer starts 26th on Sunday after not passing pre-qualifying inspection, but like Almirola, he will be slicing through the field.
Daniel Suarez ($7,000): In his lone start at Auto Club Speedway, Suarez scored a seventh place finish. Suarez also scored a top-15 finish at Atlanta earlier this season. After an early scrape with the wall in practice, look for Suarez to salvage a top 12-top-15 finish this weekend.
Paul Menard ($6,800): Menard is my driver this year who I believe can sneak into the Championship Playoff either on points or stealing a win sometime this year. Menard moved from Richard Childress Racing to Wood Brothers Racing, to replace the departed Ryan Blaney. Wood Brothers Racing still maintains an alliance/partnership with the powerful Team Penske. Menard has had one DNFs (did not finish) this year, but when he’s been around at the finish, his worst result is 17th. Menard starts 14th on Sunday.
Chris Buescher ($5,800): This last pick was very tough as the value of the drivers is pretty consistent of where I anticipate them running this weekend where there’s little room for overachieving. Buescher starts 12th after practicing in 19th position. Buescher and his teammate, A.J. Allmendinger, are frustrating cases as I feel they should be preforming better, but it seems there team may have not progressed as much as some of the other teams around them. I’m going to roll the dice this weekend with the small price tag and hopes to get a solid top-15 finish.
Good luck this week and let’s make some money! You can follow me on Twitter @ScottYoungLV and please shoot me any questions or comments.
*All driver stats are referenced from DriverAverages.com
*Practice and race results from Nascar.com
*Driver salaries are obtained from Draft Kings