Last weekend the Sprint Cup Series took on the smallest track in NASCAR. This weekend the stars of NASCAR head to the Lone-Star State for the first night race of the season. Let’s take a look at who you should have on your fantasy team for Saturday night’s race at the Texas Motor Speedway.
A-List Must Haves
Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has been fast at every track he’s visited this season in his new ride. He’s been reinvigorated after making the move from Roush-Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing in the offseason. Martinsville is one of Kenseth’s worst race tracks and he will admit that, but last weekend he led more laps there than he had in every race he had run there prior. This is a new Kenseth. He’s always been dangerous, but he’s even more dangerous now. He has two career wins at Texas Motor Speedway, the most recent one coming in 2011. He also won at the last 1.5 miler that the Cup Series visited in Las Vegas. He also finished in the top five in both Texas races last season. This is a driver you need to have on your fantasy team this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson: Johnson could be in this category every weekend. After all, he is a five time champion and a future hall of famer. Just like Kenseth, Johnson has two career wins in Texas. He won the most recent race at Texas back in November, and he finished second in the other race there last season. He’s also on a roll this season. He won the Daytona 500, won last week in Martinsville and sits atop the points standings.
A-List Wild Card
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer is in the Wild-Card category because he could be a good pick at Texas, but he has the potential to be a bad one as well. He ran extremely well on the intermediate race tracks in 2012 en route to a second place finish in the points. That includes a win in the October Charlotte race. Bowyer finished sixth in the fall Texas race last year, but finished a mediocre 17th in April. The other reason it’s a risk taking Bowyer is because we’ve only seen one Gen-6 race on a 1.5 mile race track and his car was absolutely horrendous in that race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He finished 27th, two laps down because his car was insanely loose at the start of the race. He was forced to pit just 10 laps into the race to avoid wrecking the car. If his team can go to Texas this weekend and run the way they did in 2012 on the intermediate tracks he will be a fantastic choice.
B-List Must Haves
Kyle Busch: Kyle is usually very strong at Texas, even though he is still winless there. He finished third last November and 11th last April. He finished fourth at Las Vegas last month and won at the Auto Club Speedway in California three weeks ago. He’ll be a driver to watch out for this Saturday night. Hopefully you’ll be watching him wrack up the points for your team.
Greg Biffle: Biffle is another driver who is usually very strong in Texas. He has two career wins here, including this race last season. He finished tenth here in November. Biffle is usually very strong on the intermediate race tracks. Hopefully his team got their issues sorted out after Las Vegas because a 17th place finish there last month is very strange for that team on this type of race track.
Paul Menard: It’s incredibly rare that Paul Menard falls under this category, but he deserves it this weekend. Based purely on their performance so far this season, Menard is carrying the Richard Childress Racing team. Menard is the only RCR driver currently in a Chase position. He currently sits ninth in points while Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton are 14th and 24th respectively. Menard has three top-10s this weekend, including a top-10 at Las Vegas. He’s definitely worth taking this weekend.
Mark Martin: At the larger tracks, Mark Martin is a must for your team. I wouldn’t start him for the race, but I’d have him there specifically for the qualifying points that he almost always gets. He’s a fantastic qualifier on the larger race tracks. Keep him just for that purpose.
B-List Wild Cards
Jamie McMurray: McMurray and his Earnhardt-Ganassi teammate Juan Pablo Montoya have been down-right terrible the last two seasons, but McMurray has started to pick up the pace this season. He has two top-10s so far this season and sits 13th in points. He finished 13th at Las Vegas last month, and also finished seventh this past weekend in Martinsville where he was up front almost all race long. It’s possible that McMurray is experiencing a revival, and if so you may want to be a part of that.
Brian Vickers: Vickers is racing this weekend as a substitute driver for the injured Denny Hamlin. We’ve seen what Vickers can do when he’s raced in the 55 car on the weekends that Mark Martin decided to sit out. But now we get to see what Vickers can do when placed inside a championship-caliber car.
As I say every week, the C-List is typically a toss-up. There are only a couple of drivers worth taking, and most of them aren’t even full-time Cup drivers.
This weekend I would recommend taking Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Dillon. Stenhouse is typically very good on the larger race tracks, as is Dillon. Another thing Dillon has on his side is the performance of the 51 car this season.