Fantasy NASCAR Ford EcoBoost 400 Driver Picks

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Homestead, Florida this week for the Ford EcoBoost 400. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game.

This is it. The final race of the 2016 season is upon us and fantasy players get one last chance to claw their way to the top of their league standings.

The championship race at Homestead is one of the easiest races to predict since the four Chase drivers usually finish in the top five. The problem is that most fantasy teams will select these drivers for their teams. If you have the luxury of leading your league, go ahead and select these drivers. If not, be contrarian and select the drivers not competing for the championship trophy at Homestead.

The four drivers who will battle it out for the 2016 Sprint Cup Championship are Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. Each of these drivers has had a lot of success on the intermediate tracks this season and all have great statistics at Homestead. I would be surprised if all four drivers did not finish in the top 10 Sunday.

While selecting the four championship drivers is the best way to go this week, there are other drivers worth consideration. The best way to determine which drivers to use in the final race is to look at the average running position in the four races on intermediate tracks in the Chase (Chicago, Charlotte, Kansas and Texas). This is better data than the average finishing position because sometimes drivers run up front and something happens to put them at the back of the field. Average running position shows a true picture of who had the good cars in the race.

Here are the drivers with the best average running position in the four intermediate tracks in the Chase…

 Average Running Position on Intermediate Tracks  
Driver Chicago Charlotte Kansas Texas Top 5s Laps Led Avg.
Kyle Busch 9.03 8.78 8.73 9.41 2 23 8.98
Martin Truex Jr. 9.24 8.77 8.76 9.19 2 98 8.99
Kevin Harvick 8.59 9.84 9.61 9.74 1 86 9.44
Brad Keselowski 9.35 9.32 9.65 9.67 1 9 9.49
Matt Kenseth 10.54 10.13 9.99 10.4 1 121 10.26
Joey Logano 10.09 10.70 10.52 10.35 3 182 10.35
Carl Edwards 10.59 10.37 10.13 10.49 2 97 10.49
Denny Hamlin 10.73 10.48 10.47 10.47 0 56 10.56
Kurt Busch 11.49 11.68 11.88 11.78 0 1 11.78
Jimmie Johnson 12.67 11.89 11.71 11.97 2 275 11.97

Track position will not be as important at Homestead as it was at the shorter tracks. Drivers can make their way from the back of the field on the slick, worn-out track. Fantasy teams need to select drivers who qualify outside the top 10. The scoring system for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. It will be important to try and capture as many of the bonus points for position differential as possible this week.

Pick to Win

Jimmie Johnson ($10,300) will be racing for his seventh Sprint Cup trophy this week and I think he gets the job done. Hendrick Motorsports has been peeking at the right time this season. No driver has led more laps than Johnson on the 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase. He won at Charlotte and finished fourth at Kansas. This is the year we lost music icon Prince and the people in Victory Lane will be singing, “Oh Seven and we’ll watch them fall, they stand in the way of love and Jimmie smoked them all….”

Contenders

Joey Logano ($11,400) should not be counted out. Most people have been talking about the power of Joe Gibbs Racing and the resurgence of Hendrick Motorsports, but do not be surprised if Team Penske spoils the party Sunday. No driver in the sport is running as well as Logano right now. He has finished three of the last four races in the top two. Logano should easily finish in the top five Sunday.

Kyle Busch ($11,200) will try to become the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2010 to win back-to-back Sprint Cup championships. His “win at all costs” attitude will give him a good chance to get the job done Sunday. Busch has finished all four races on 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase in the top eight. He will need to do more than points race this week. Busch has not been to Victory Lane since Indianapolis. I still would not bet against the No. 18 team this week.

Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200) is the best choice amongst the drivers not competing for a championship Sunday. Truex has been the most dominate driver this season on the 1.5-mile tracks. He has three wins (Charlotte, Chicago and Darlington) and has led 911 laps on the intermediate tracks. The No. 78 team would love to end the 2016 season with their fifth trip to Victory Lane.

Carl Edwards ($9,100) has to be one of the popular picks to win this week. It is hard to find a nicer driver in the garage than Edwards. He lost the 2011 championship to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker and gets a chance to win the trophy he thought was his five years ago. Edwards has been the best driver on the 1.5-mile tracks in the last two races. He finished second at Kansas and won at Texas. Edwards should finish in the top five again Sunday.

Value Picks (Drivers under $9,000)

Austin Dillon ($8,200) and the Richard Childress Racing team have found some speed the last month. The No. 3 team has consistently run in the top 10, but they keep finding trouble on the track. Dillon finished sixth at Kansas and won the pole at Texas. If he can stay out of trouble, Dillon should end the season with his 14th finish in the top 10.

Ryan Blaney ($7,500) has had one of the best rookie seasons of any driver in the last 10 years. The problem is that Chase Elliott is also a rookie and gets most of the attention. Blaney has run in the top 15 on most of the 1.5-mile tracks this season. Fantasy teams should expect another solid run from the No. 21 car to finish out an outstanding rookie season.

Tony Stewart ($6,800) has been my favorite driver for the last 18 years. I would be lying if I said I was not going to miss him. Since this is my last fantasy article of Smoke’s career I felt that I had to include him in my picks. The No. 14 team has not been running well the second half of the season, but Stewart has made miracles happen before at Homestead. No storyline would end the 2016 season better than the one including a trip to Victory Lane by one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.

Alex Bowman ($5,000) has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 season. Most people thought a driver with more experience should have filled the seat in the No. 88 car. Bowman has proved his critics wrong and kept the car up front. Hendrick Motorsports has been running well since the Chase began. They will provide Bowman a car capable of running in the top 10 and Bowman will prove he has the skills to get the job done.

Here are my picks for the Ford EcoBoost 400 for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing:

Driver 1: Joey Logano $11,400

Driver 2: Kyle Busch $11,200

Driver 3: Jimmie Johnson $10,300

Driver 4: Carl Edwards $9,100

Driver 5: Ryan Blaney $7,500

FOX Fantasy Auto Resources

– Driver Owner Percentage

– Driver Salaries

And don’t forget – prizes are on the line each race of the fantasy season!  First, second and third place each win a prize.  Plus, each race builds your point total for larger segment and season prizes.

*Stats from Driveraverages.com and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info

If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR) or LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook.

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