1) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 4th)
Chicagoland Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick should be on your short list of fantasy NASCAR favorites at Chicagoland. He’s an elite performer at Chicagoland and has ranked as one of the strongest performers at high-speed intermediate tracks in 2016. I see no reason why he’ll be a fantasy letdown on Sunday. He’s been waiting all season long for the Chase to start, now he can “unleash” and go all out for the win. This year at 1.5 mile tracks that correlate to success he’s performed at an extremely high-level. In the six combined races at tracks of this length he’s finished in the top ten every race, has the best average running position (5.3), the second best average finish (6.0), led the second most laps and has run the second most fastest laps. One aspect you have to like about Harvick entering the weekend is his momentum. Over the last 4 races he’s scored the most points and has finished in the top five every race. In Happy Hour Kevin Harvick had a great car and had standout speed over long runs.
Chicagoland Track History – Chicagoland has been a special intermediate track for Kevin Harvick. He’s won here twice, has finished in the top five 53% percent of the time and in the top twelve 67% percent of the time. Over the last couple of Chicagoland races he’s been one of the strongest performers. If he didn’t have problems in 2015 he would likely have three straight top five finishes. Last year at Chicagoland he had a great car but finished a misleading 42nd. That asterisk mark result can be chalked up to him getting a flat tire after contact with Johnson that sent him into the wall. Prior to his problem he never ran lower than 3rd. In our PROS Rankings he was slated as having the 3rd best car. In 2014 he might’ve had the best car. In that race he finished 5th, earned the 5th best driver rating, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led a race high 79 laps. That’s even more impressive when you take into account he had a pit road problem which caused him to make an extra pit stop while he was running in 4th on lap 67. In 2013 he ran very well. When the checkered flag waved he finished 3rd and earned the 7th best driver rating.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,800
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 6th)
Chicagoland Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. deserves strong fantasy NASCAR consideration at Chicagoland. The main attribute I like about him is how well he’s run at 1.5 mile tracks this year. In my opinion nobody has been better than him at these tracks in 2016. One statistic that makes that clear is his series best driver rating. Additionally for the season at tracks of this length he has the best average running position (4.8), led the most laps and has ran the most fastest laps by a wide margin. In the last 4 races at 1.5 mile tracks he’s arguably had the best car. At Chicagoland Truex has been solid in recent seasons but I would urge you to mainly focus on how well he’s run in 2016. One aspect I like about Truex is his momentum. In the last two races he’s finished 1st and 3rd. In practice Truex Jr. had a fast car. In Happy Hour he had the 7th quickest lap and the 4th best ten lap average.
Chicagoland Track History – Truex Jr. has been a solid performer at Chicagoland in recent races. In 3 of the last 4 races he’s finished between 9th and 14th. Last year Truex Jr. ran very well but finished a misleading 13th. Strength wise he was likely about 6th place good but during the final restart he faded back quickly in the running order. Additionally in the race it should be noted he earned the 4th best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position, had the 5th best green flag average speed and led 39 laps. In 2014 when he had season long struggles he finished 14th but don’t overlook his 23rd place average running position.
Yahoo B Driver / DraftKings $10,300
Further Recommended Reading – Chicagoland Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Practice Notes / Practice Speeds Center, Chicagoland Speed Cheat Sheet, Asterisk Mark Report, PROS Rankings, Starting Lineup, DraftKings Start Page, Yahoo Start Page
3) Brad Keselowski (Starting – 2nd)
Chicagoland Fantasy Spin – 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski is hungry for another championship. Chicagoland is a great first track as he begins his quest for another title. At the Windy City he’s performed at a high-level and has a series best 5 straight top tens. In 2 of the last 4 Chicagoland races he’s raced his way to victory lane. Another attribute I like about him is how well he’s run at 1.5 mile tracks. This year at tracks of this length he’s won twice, has a 7.3 average finish and has only once finished outside the top ten. One aspect I like about Brad Keselowski is how well the #2 team is running right now. If he didn’t have problems at Darlington he would likely have 5 top fives in the last six races. In practice Keselowski has showed good long run speed. In both Saturday sessions his ten lap averages ranked as the 6th best.
Chicagoland Track History – At Chicagoland Brad Keselowski has 2 wins, has finished in the top five 43% percent of the time and in the top ten 71% percent of the time. As you read above currently he has 5 straight top tens. Over that five race stretch he has the 3rd best driver rating, a 4.4 average finish, 8.0 average running position and has led 144 laps. Last year he had a solid performance. He finished 8th and had a 10th place average running position. In 2014 he had a strong showing and raced his way to victor lane despite having to make an expected pit stop for a loose wheel while running in 2nd. Additionally in that race he earned the 3rd best driver rating and led 62 laps. In 2013 he earned the 5th best driver rating and finished 7th. In 2012 he had a stellar car and out raced Jimmie Johnson following the final pit stop and made a trip to victory lane. In 2011 he finished 5th.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,100