After having the weekend off to celebrate the Easter holiday, the Sprint Cup teams will travel to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the Duck Commander 500 on Saturday night. This will be the first official night race of the 2015 season and should give us a glimpse of how different teams will be able to respond to changing track conditions moving forward. Something to keep in mind this weekend when trying to handicap the field after qualifying is that all practice sessions will be held on Friday afternoon despite the fact that we race on Saturday night. Texas is a 1.5-mile quad-oval track and if you’re looking at past statistics here for fantasy purposes, I’d focus just on past spring races for this week because the track changes a lot between that race and the fall event.
Fantasy Favorites for Texas
Joey Logano – Admittedly, I was a little rough on Joey Logano and the #22 team a couple weeks ago when I criticized their ability to keep up with the track. The “rough patch” that I envisioned them having after the Daytona win still equaled out to a 5.5 average finish over the first six races of this season with no result outside of the top 10. I’m just expecting a top 5 out of this kid on a weekly basis and that’s something that’s only going to happen if your name is Kevin Harvick. Logano “rebounded” (for lack of a better term) with a 3rd-place finish at Martinsville and I fully expect the #22 Ford to make it back-to-back top 5s here at Texas on Saturday night. We all know that Joey is pretty a lock to qualify up front and that can pay dividends here at a track like Texas, believe it or not. Logano is the defending winner of this race and has finished 5th or better in three of the last four events at this track. In the fall race here back in November, the #22 team had a less-than-average day and still came home 12th. Once again, Joey Logano is one of the most solid fantasy picks you can roster this weekend, and will be pretty much all season long so get used to it. In The Showcase, the driver of the #22 Ford will receive 0 handicap points for the Texas race, indicating that he is the favorite to win according to the Fantasy Racing Online algorithm. As long as you think Joey is a solid top 5 pick, there’s no reason not to consider him in this game this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson – Texas is exactly the race track that Jimmie Johnson needs right now because he’s in a bit of a slump and this is the type of place that can pull him out of it. “Six Time” finished 25th in this event last season but let’s remember that that was because of damage he received when his teammate, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., decided to do some off-roading. Looking at the last three years at this venue, Johnson has went to victory lane three times and has posted five finishes of 6th or better in the six events ran. Yeah, he’s that good here. Jimmie’s career average finish at Texas Motor Speedway comes in at a very impressive 9.1, which is 2nd-best to Matt Kenseth’s 8.9. At the intermediate races ran thus far in 2015, Johnson won at Atlanta, could have won at Las Vegas, and came home 9th at Fontana. I’m a little cautious picking Jimmie this weekend but it’s hard to go against a driver that could very well go out there and dominate this race on Saturday night. Johnson will receive 3 handicap points in The Showcase this weekend, which is quite generous for a driver that has such a good record at this track. The 3 points are due to this team’s perceived struggles over the first six races of the 2015 season and the handicap value should make Johnson one of the most picked drivers on Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick – It’s hard to believe but Kevin Harvick’s 8th-place finish at Martinsville a couple of weeks ago was actually pretty disappointing, both for the team as well as fantasy owners. The streak of top 2 finishes is now over for “Happy” but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me at all if he starts it back up here at Texas on Saturday night. Harvick had a top 5 car in this event one year ago but had mechanical issues that relegated him to a 42nd-place finish. This #4 team hasn’t been running into the problems that they were early on in 2014, so that’s a very good sign for this weekend–although it is impossible to predict those kind of issues. Harvick didn’t disappoint here at Texas last fall, though, starting 5th and ending up 2nd to race winner Jimmie Johnson. You can’t win them all I guess. Harvick is a must-pick, weekly top 5 threat, and if you don’t know that by now I’m assuming you’re not doing very well in your fantasy leagues. In The Showcase, “Happy” will receive 1 handicap point for the Duck Commander 500, which is to be expected. He’s right up there with Joey Logano when it comes to the favorites this weekend and both will probably be on many rosters Saturday night.