The longest race of the season–the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway–is this Sunday night and once the checkered flag waves, the 2015 NASCAR season will officially be 1/3rd complete. Hard to believe, huh? This also marks the end of Segment 2 in “The Showcase” here at Fantasy Racing Online. The Coca-Cola 600 is one of those races that typically allows for fantasy owners to take some risks and go with a sleeper pick or two. For whatever reason, the top drivers don’t finish up front here on a consistent basis.
Fantasy Sleepers for Charlotte
Jamie McMurray – Words can’t describe how much I like Jamie McMurray as a sleeper pick this weekend. In most leagues, Jamie Mac is a mid-tier driver that still qualifies as a sleeper. Here at Fantasy Racing Online, he’s actually one of the favorites in The Showcase (we’ll get to that later). For all intents and purposes, however, McMurray is a sleeper this week. Jamie had a very solid couple of races here at Charlotte Motor Speedway last season, leading 39 laps total and finishing 5th and 3rd in the two points-paying races. Let’s not forget that he won last year’s All Star Race as well. Momentum-wise, only one driver has a better average finish over the last six Sprint Cup races, and that’s Jimmie Johnson. Yes, Jamie McMurray (9.7) has ended up better, on average, than Kevin Harvick (10.0) over the last month and a half. In The Showcase, Jamie McMurray will receive just 3 handicap points for this week’s race. This is because the driver of the #1 Chevrolet has some of the most consistent finishes over the last six races both overall in the Sprint Cup Series as well as here at Charlotte. Unless you think he’s going to lead the most laps and possibly win on Sunday night, I’d probably shy away from McMurray in The Showcase because of the low handicap points.
Chase Elliott – After a disastrous first Sprint Cup start at Martinsville earlier this year, Chase Elliott rebounded nicely at Richmond with a solid 16th-place finish. We all know he has the talent to compete with the Sprint Cup drivers, and he has Hendrick power under the hood, so now it’s just going to take some luck and execution on the part of the #25 team as a whole–not something entirely out of this world. Now, the Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race in NASCAR, so that makes me leery when it comes to picking someone like Chase. However, the 15 handicap points that he’s going to receive in The Showcase, it really makes you consider whether it’s worth the risk to take a chance on him. The 2014 Xfinity Series champion sat on the pole here at Charlotte in the fall Xfinity race and led 66 laps en route to an 8th-place finish.
Austin Dillon – The driver of the #3 Chevrolet has just one top 10 finish thus far in the 2015 Sprint Cup season, but with a little (okay, maybe a lot) of luck on Sunday night, he might be able to add to that total. Austin Dillon has raced four times here at Charlotte and has been pretty good, finishing 8th and 6th in his two Showdown races. In the races that actually count, Austin finished 16th and 13th in the two points-paying races last season, which is pretty good when you consider he started 32nd and 20th in those two races. The only problem I have with him is that he has no momentum, so it’s incredibly difficult to trust Austin right now. In The Showcase, Dillon will net 9 handicap points for the Coca-Cola 600, which is a pretty good value for a sleeper pick. So, if Austin can manage to finish 12th or so, he’ll net you top 5 points. Not too bad if you ask me, but he’s going to have to look real sporty in practice for me to seriously consider the #3 this weekend.