FOX Fantasy Picks: Duck Commander 500
This weekend we’re off to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500. Sunday’s race should see high speeds, tire wear, pit strategy and, most likely, a bit of drama at the end.
Remember, these are simply suggestions, so pick your team wisely and best of luck. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to sign up for FOX Fantasy Auto Racing, create your team and start playing today!
Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to have one of the best seasons of his career, heading to Texas Motor Speedway with the points lead.
After starting the season off in dramatic fashion winning the Daytona 500, Earnhardt Jr. followed it up with a pair of runner-up finishes at Phoenix and Las Vegas. Struggles at Bristol led to his only finish outside the top 12 so far this season, and he was back to his front-running ways last Sunday at Martinsville, where he finished third.
While Earnhardt Jr. has one win at Texas Motor Speedway, it happened 14 years ago during his 2000 rookie campaign. In the last six races at the 1.5-mile facility, Earnhardt has five top 10s and was second to Jimmie Johnson in November.
This has certainly been Earnhardt Jr.’s year so far, and that should continue Sunday in Texas.
While he does not have the best Sprint Cup record at Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch is always tough to beat on the fast 1.5-mile tracks.
With six Nationwide Series and two Camping World Truck Series wins at Texas, Busch was dominant at the facility, but struggled to find victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series. That changed last April when Busch took home the trophy after starting on the pole.
Already off to a rocky start for the 2014 season, Busch has four finishes outside of the top 10, but was also the winner at Fontana. Regardless of the result, the No. 18 Toyota has been fast week-in and week-out.
With tire wear expected to be an issue during Sunday’s race, there are few behind the wheel who can manage as well as Busch. Expect ‘Rowdy’ to be a contender late in the going.
Carl Edwards went a long way in punching his Chase ticket scoring the win at Bristol Motor Speedway, but don’t expect the Roush Fenway Racing driver to be on cruise control until the end of the regular season.
In the early weeks of this season, Edwards has quietly emerged as a serious contender yet again. Along with his win at Bristol, ‘Cousin Carl’ has two top 5s, four top 10s, an average finish of 9.0, and is currently third in the series standings.
The former Texas winner has been much more consistent at the 1.5-mile track in recent years, but has not been to victory lane since 2008, when he swept the season’s races. In his last six trips to Texas, Edwards has three top 5s and four top 10s.
Sunday’s race will come down to taking care of tires and managing pit strategy, and Edwards and crew chief Jimmy Fennig are two of the best in that regard.
Edwards’ Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle has been as consistent as they come at Texas Motor Speedway. In the last 11 races at the 1.5-mile speedway, Biffle has one win, seven top 5s, 10 top 10s and a worst finish of 12th last November.
‘The Biff’ showed some strength Sunday at Martinsville, and is headed to one of his best tracks. It appears the Roush brigade still has some kinks to work out, but Texas is a great place to get back on track and back in victory lane.
While Texas Motor Speedway may not stand out as one of the best for Brad Keselowski, his performance as of late has shown he should be considered a threat.
In his first eight races at the 1.5-mile speedway, Keselowski finished outside the top 15 seven times. However, in the last three races, the former series champion has one top 5 and three top 10s.
Last April, Keselowski’s car faced a series of hurdles going through NASCAR pre-race technical inspection. The issue upset the often-outspoken driver, but did not distract him from producing on the track, where he finished ninth.
Keselowski already has a win to his credit this season, so expect he and crew chief Paul Wolfe to use strategy and gambles to put the No. 2 Ford in contention for the win at the end of the day.
As always, these are simply suggestions, so do your research, pick wisely and best of luck. If you put more faith in the Las Vegas odds, check out this week’s ‘Let it Ride’ segment from NASCAR Race Hub: