On Sunday, there will be a NASCAR showdown in Texas as the third round of Playoffs start. The drivers who emerge from this round, will battle it out for the championship at Phoenix in November. There will be urgency in the air, because locking into the championship finale early can be a big advantage.
Texas is a low-wear 1.5 mile track which was repaved and slightly reconfigured for 2017. NASCAR raced at Texas earlier this year, but I would pretend that race didn’t even exist for fantasy purposes since an experimental rules package was used.
In terms of variables I want in a fantasy pick for Texas I want …
- A driver who’s run well and displayed speed at high-speed intermediate tracks in 2021. (Total Speed Rankings – 1.5 Mile Tracks, Low-Wear 1.5 Mile Tracks).
- A driver with a great track record at Texas
- Recent Form (Total Speed Ranking Momentum)
- A driver who’s starting relatively near the front at Texas. 6 of the last 7 Texas races have been won from a top ten starting position. Here’s the Texas Starting Lineup.
Texas Fantasy NASCAR Rankings
1) Kyle Larson (Starting – 1st)
Texas Fantasy Spin – At Texas, the road to victory lane will likely go thru Kyle Larson. This year at low-wear 1.5 mile tracks, Larson has been the premiere performer. Larson’s won 2 of the 4 races, but he could easily be 4 for 4 at reaching victory lane if all of them were incident free. In terms of track type total speed rankings at low-wear 1.5 mile tracks, Larson ranks #1. Additionally over those four races on this sub-track type, Larson has the best driver rating by a wide margin, the best average running position (3.7), he’s averaged leading 164.3 laps per race and he’s averaged running 59 fastest laps per race. With Larson starting on the pole, look for him to pad those stats even more and be the driver to beat on Sunday.
Texas Track History – Kyle Larson has been strong at Texas and has come close to victory lane in the past. In fall 2019 when Larson most recently raced here, he finished 3rd in Stage #1, 4th in Stage #2, was the 4th Fastest Driver Late In A Run but then finished an asterisk mark 12th. If you can recall back to that race, Bubba Wallace spun on purpose on lap 242 during a pit cycle and it burned Larson. Prior to that, Larson was in 6th and it dropped him off the lead lap back to the teens. In spring 2019, Larson had a tough race and finished 39th after crashing. In the race he finished 9th in Stage #1 and at the time of his demise on lap 149 just prior to the green flag pit cycle he was running just outside the top ten. If his race would’ve been incident free, he likely would’ve finished around 10th. In fall 2018, Larson closed the race strong and finished 5th. In spring 2018, Larson had a very competitive car, but on lap 127 while he was running in 4th he got into the wall hard and it marked the end of his race leading to his 36th place result. In Stage #1 before his demise he finished 5th. In fall 2017 the #42 car was strong, but Larson finished a misleading 37th after wrecking with 52 laps to go while running in 5th. In that race he led 74 laps, finished 4th in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. In spring 2017, Larson had his best Texas finish and came home 2nd.
DraftKings $10,500 / FanDuel $14,500
2) Kyle Busch (Starting – 3rd)
Texas Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch is a super-elite performer at 1.5 mile tracks who should be near the top of your fantasy NASCAR radar. Busch is the defending fall Texas champion, and since the start of the 2020 Playoffs at 1.5 mile tracks, Busch has 2 wins, a series best 3.7 average finish, 8 top fives and he’s 9 for 9 at finishing in the top ten. For the season at low-wear 1.5 mile tracks, Busch is tied for having the 3rd best Total Speed Ranking. Busch will be without his crew chief this week, but I would view that as a non-factor. On Sunday, look for Busch to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Texas Track History – Kyle Busch has been elite at Texas. He’s a four-time winner, and also the defending fall champion. Over the last four Texas races, Busch has a series best 5.5 average finish and he’s one of just 2 drivers who have finished in the top ten every race. Last fall en route to victory lane, Busch won Stage #2, led 90 laps and had the 5th best Total Speed Ranking. In summer 2020, Busch had a great race and finished 4th. That’s a remarkable result when you consider he plowed into the grass near the start of the final Stage which dropped him back in the pack. In the race, Busch finished 2nd in Stage #1, 10th in Stage #2 and ranked as the 4th Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In fall 2020, Busch finished 7th, had a 9.4 average running position, finished 5th in Stage #1 and 9th in Stage #2. In spring 2019, Busch had a great car, but finished a misleading 10th. In the race he earned the best driver rating, had the best average running position (7th), led the most laps (66), finished 8th in Stage #1 and 4th in Stage #2. Late in the race around lap 276 while leading, Busch had a bad restart and went up the track, and then a few laps later he slammed into the wall which led to an unexpected pit stop. Him rallying back to finish 10th is a testament of just how good his car was.
DraftKings $9,800 / FanDuel $13,000
3) Denny Hamlin (Starting – 2nd)
Texas Fantasy Spin – At Texas, Denny Hamlin should be on your short list of favorites. The #11 team has fielded the fastest car in the Playoffs, and they’ve been a factor in every race. Also in the post-season, Hamlin has 2 wins, a series best 4.2 average finish and he has the best driver rating. At Las Vegas, the lone 1.5 mile track visited so far in the post-season, Hamlin raced his way to victory lane, had the 2nd best Total Speed Ranking and led 137 laps. This year at low-wear 1.5 mile tracks, Hamlin is tied for having the 3rd best Total Speed Ranking. On Sunday, look for Hamlin to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Texas Track History – Denny Hamlin is a recent Texas winner, but he’s lacked consistency in the “Lone Star State.” Over the last 9 races, Hamlin has four top tens, but five results of 20th or worse. “Performance Wise” though, Hamlin’s been strong. Last fall, Hamlin was solid and finished 9th. In spring 2020, Hamlin had a great car and looked like a top five contender, but finished an asterisk mark 20th after his race fell apart over the closing 50 laps. In the race, Hamlin was in 2nd with 49 laps to go, but shortly after that he was burned by a caution during the pit cycle which put him back in the teens. That’s when the trouble started. With 15 laps to go while he was just outside the top ten he spun. Then with 7 laps to go he spun again. In the race, Hamlin finished 3rd in Stage #2, was the 3rd Fastest Driver Late In A Run and had the 5th best Total Speed Ranking. In fall 2019, Hamlin showed speed, but finished an asterisk mark 28th. On lap 80 while he was running in 6th he spun into the grass and destroyed his front splitter which ruined his afternoon. In spring 2019, Hamlin had a great car. He finished 1st, earned the 2nd best driver rating, won Stage #2 and led 45 laps. His win is a little more impressive when you take into account just after winning Stage #2 he got a pit penalty.
DraftKings $9,900 / FanDuel $13,500