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DraftKings NASCAR: O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Course: Texas Motor Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile quad-oval
Laps: 334

Race Preview

Brad Keselowski became the first repeat winner of 2016 last week at Martinsville Speedway and Kyle Busch went home empty handed once again. The defending winner of this week’s race continues to be shut out of Victory Lane in 2017 and even missed a stage win last week after contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. allowed Chase Elliott to sneak by. Busch led 34 laps at Texas last season to get the ball rolling for the Joe Gibbs Racing sweep at the track, and Carl Edwards finished the job in the fall. This will be the second race of the season on a 1.5-mile quad-oval and fantasy players remember that Keselowski took that win in Atlanta. Kevin Harvick dominated that race with 292 laps led but didn't lead the lap that mattered the most. Both Penske Racing teammates were strong that afternoon, and the Ford-powered teams may have something to say about the results this weekend, too. However, fantasy players would be wise not to ignore Busch and the other Toyota-powered teams this week given their strength through the opening rounds of this season. Kyle Larson retains the point lead, but Elliott closed that gap to just four with a top-five at Martinsville. Texas is sure to be fast and could be a difficult race for fantasy players to predict due to track changes and close competition throughout the field.

Key Stats at Martinsville Speedway

Number of previous races: 32
Winners from pole: 3
Winners from top-5 starters: 19
Winners from top-10 starters: 25
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
Fastest race: 160.577 mph

Last 10 Texas Winners

2016 fall - Carl Edwards
2016 spring - Kyle Busch
2015 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2015 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2014 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2014 spring - Joey Logano
2013 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2013 spring - Kyle Busch
2012 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2012 spring - Greg Biffle

Texas is a high-speed circuit where horsepower and handling are keys to a successful afternoon for drivers. The turns feature less banking this year than in the past, and new pavement will create some unknowns with tire wear and changes in the handling that result. However, this configuration of circuit tends to see one driver nail the setup early and go on to dominate long stretches of the race. Harvick did that earlier this season in Atlanta. Just like that race, however, late restarts can often jumble the order. Drivers will look to improve their handling throughout the afternoon to have maximum grip for the final miles. Pit strategy will also be a factor, and the pressure will be on crews to make the right calls on the final stops to gain track position to put their driver in position to win. The circuit has a few grooves through the turns that allow drivers to maintain pace as their cars change throughout a fuel run, and staying in touch with the leader and inside the top 10 will enable a final push for victory for the capable cars. Only once in the last four Texas races has the driver who led the most laps actually won, which goes to show that teams should not throw in the towel despite being off pace early. Qualifying and practice will be key indicators to which fantasy owners should pay attention. Only once in the last 12 Texas races has a winner started outside of the top 15, and the majority of victors have started fifth or better.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,500
Kyle Larson - $10,300
Martin Truex Jr. - $10,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kyle Busch - $9,900
Joey Logano - $9,800
Chase Elliott - $9,500
Matt Kenseth - $9,300

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Clint Bowyer - $8,800
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,500
Jamie McMurray - $8,300
Kurt Busch - $8.000

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ryan Newman - $7,800
Erik Jones - $7,600
Trevor Bayne - $6,900
Chris Buescher - $6,000

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $10,000
Matt Kenseth - $9,300
Clint Bowyer - $8,800
Erik Jones - $7,600
Trevor Bayne - $6,900
Ty Dillon - $6,600

Lower-risk lineup options for Texas can take on a number of variations. For this week I went with Harvick as the top choice based on how he ran at Atlanta earlier this year. He led 292 of those 325 laps and had the best car. This week will be different, but this team and driver are very adaptable and capable of winning. Kenseth has been quietly inching forward in the order the past few weeks. He has run well multiple times this season but just needs to get to the finish without mistakes or bad luck. He finished third in Atlanta and has two prior Texas wins. Things just seem to continue to build for Bowyer, too. Three top-10 finishes from the last five races mean it could just be a matter of time until he is finishing in the top 10 every week and potentially making it all the way to Victory Lane. There is also no arguing that Jones has been a stand out so far as a rookie. Fourteenth-place in Atlanta implies he should be capable of a top-10 this week, and based on how teammate Truex performs at these circuits fantasy players should expect a good afternoon from him. Last week’s 13th-place finish at Martinsville coupled with a 12th-place run in Atlanta makes Bayne a good bargain as well. He’s consistently finishing inside the top 15, and if he doesn’t have a tendency to qualify too high up the order, which could give fantasy players extra points for his finish differential. Another rookie beginning to make his mark is Dillon. He stumbled a bit last week, but finished 15th in Atlanta after starting 26th. He finished 20th in Texas last season after starting 30th, too.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,200
Jimmie Johnson - $9,700
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,500
Ryan Blaney - $8,100
Kasey Kahne - $7,300
Chris Buescher - $6,000

My higher-risk lineup for Texas features a number of drivers with the pace to win in 2017, but who haven’t all had the breaks needed to seal the deal. Truex did win in Las Vegas, however, and his success on these tracks last season make him too good to pass up. He also finished eighth in Atlanta in March. Johnson only has one top-10 finish in the last five races, but fantasy players should still have confidence in him. He led two laps in Atlanta before finishing 19th, and is a six-time Texas winner who should score his first win this season in relatively short order. Races haven’t exactly finished as planned for Earnhardt either. He has yet to score a top-10 in 2017, but Texas is one of his better tracks. If there were any circuit on the calendar he could stop his slump it would be this one. As fast as Blaney has been just about every week you’d think he already has multiple series wins on his resume. He has none, however, and it should just be a matter of time before that changes. He has two top-10s in the last five races and a top-10 this week would be his first at the track. Kahne has been quietly delivering competitive finishes. He is excellent on the 1.5-mile ovals and finished fourth in Atlanta. He also finished eighth in both Texas races last season. Last but not least is Buescher. His average finish of 22.2 so far this season is almost four positions better than the 26.1 figure he achieved last season with a win. He is stepping up his game, and 11th last week at Martinsville should give him confidence to continue that climb in Texas.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.