The NASCAR All-Star Open is a unique exhibition race that will be run on Saturday night with a green flag time of 6:20 PM. It will consist of three stages (20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps) and the winner of each segment will earn a spot in the All-Star race. It’s important to note after a driver wins a Stage their race is over and except for the final Stage winner they are doomed to a poor overall result. Last year Clint Bowyer who won Stage #1 finished 23rd overall since he only completed 20 of the 50 laps.
I think the first Stage will be won by somebody who starts up front. The second Stage will be won by somebody who uses pit strategy to stay up front, and the final Stage will be won by somebody who uses pit strategy in Stage #2 to start up front in the final Stage.
Below are the drivers who I think are the top Fantasy NASCAR options for the open.
Erik Jones – Among drivers in the “All-Star Open” nobody has been better than Erik Jones at 1.5 mile tracks. This year at tracks of this length he’s finished in the top 11 every race and has a 7.5 average finish. Against lesser competition in the Open I think he has a great chance to win one of the Stages.
Chase Elliott – Chase Elliott is the biggest name not in the All-Star Race. He’s never won a race and that includes being 0 for 6 in this race at winning Stages. This year at 1.5 mile tracks in points paying races he’s been solid having finished 10th, 11th and 12th in incident free races. Against lesser competition that translates very well. On Saturday night I think he has a great chance to win a Stage, but then again he’ll be in the All-Star Race anyways because he’s a near lock to win the fan vote.
Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola is primed to have a strong showing in the Open. This year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s typically been about a 9th to 13th place driver. Among lesser competition that should translate very well. On Saturday night I think Almirola has a great chance to win a Stage and advance to the All-Star Race.
Daniel Suarez – In last year’s All-Star Open, Daniel Suarez won the final Stage and advanced to the main event. Charlotte overall has been a good track for him. Last year in points paying races he finished 6th in the fall and 11th in the spring. Suarez is also in one of the best cars and that’s a huge advantage among lesser competition. On Saturday night I think Suarez has a good chance to win a Stage again.
William Byron – I think William Byron has dark horse potential to win a Stage. I think he’s hungry for success and this is race where he can take advantage of the situation. He’ll probably have to use pit strategy but I wouldn’t count him out.
Paul Menard – Paul Menard should look good against lesser competition, but I don’t think he’ll win a Stage. He’s been in “Opens” for over a decade and he’s never raced his way into the All-Star Race. This year in incident free races at 1.5 mile tracks Menard has been respectable and has a 10.6 average finish. Last week at Kansas, a fellow 1.5 mile track he finished 6th.
Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman has dark horse potential to win a Stage. He hasn’t done anything that inspires confidence this year but I wouldn’t count him out. He’s capable of running the high-line and getting wild and that might be able to sneak him into a Stage win.