Chicagoland Speedway is one of the “cookie cutter” race tracks that litter the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. This 1.5-mile track is similar to a lot of other venues on the circuit, but the ones that are most similar (in terms of banking) are Las Vegas, Kansas, and Kentucky. Martin Truex, Jr. has won all three races at those tracks this year and was the winner here at Chicagoland last season. Can he grab another win on Sunday? We’ll see. We have seen the “cookie cutter” tracks be hard to pass at this season, but there are quite a few good cars starting outside of the top 10 here at Chicagoland on Sunday, so it should be a good race to get some place differential fantasy points in FOX Fantasy Auto.
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My team points last week (Richmond 2): 173
Overall team standings: 105th
Total team points for the season: 4,567
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for the 2017 Tales of the Turtles 400 Race
Chase Elliott ($11,100) – Chase Elliott qualified back in 8th for Sunday’s race here at Chicagoland Speedway, but judging by his practice speeds, the #24 Chevrolet looks to be a top 5 car for Sunday. Remember, in this race last year, Chase started back in 14th but ended up finishing 3rd and leading 75 of the 270 laps. As far as this weekend goes, the #24 Chevrolet was 3rd-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday and had the best ten-lap average during that session. In Happy Hour, Chase ranked 4th and 3rd on those two charts, respectively. Additionally, when you look at the tracks that are similar in banking to Chicagoland, Elliott has finishes of 3rd at both Las Vegas and Kentucky to his credit this season. He also posted 5th- and 9th-place finishes at Atlanta and Texas this year, which are both 1.5-mile tracks as well.
Ryan Blaney ($8,800) – One team that should be quite glad that we’re getting back into the “cookie cutter” tracks is this #21 crew and Ryan Blaney. These types of tracks are where this group is at their best, and Blaney finished 4th in his first career start here at Chicagoland last season despite starting mid-pack in 22nd. This weekend, the #21 Ford has showed pretty good speed, and probably would have qualified better than 12th if there was enough fuel in the tank on Friday. During Saturday’s practice sessions, Blaney was 2nd-fastest in the first practice and then ranked 10th-fastest during Happy Hour. He didn’t show up on the ten-lap average chart for either session, which is a bit concerning, but that’s not a dealbreaker. Looking at the tracks most similar to Chicagoland, Blaney finished 4th at Kansas, 7th at Las Vegas, and 10th at Kentucky. He should be good for a top 10 here on Sunday.
Matt Kenseth ($10,900) – There’s quite a bit to like about Matt Kenseth this weekend. First, this #20 team brought yet another fast car to the track this weekend, as they were 9th-fastest in the first practice session on Saturday before winding up 23rd-fastest in Happy Hour. In terms of ten-lap average, Kenseth ranked 3rd in that first session but didn’t show up on the Happy Hour chart. My best guess would be that the #20 team was experimenting with something and that’s why they were so bad in the final session. Chicagoland has been a great track for this #20 team ever since Matt joined the Joe Gibbs Racing family, and it all kicked off with a win here in 2013. Since then, Kenseth hasn’t finished worse than 10th at this track and that shouldn’t change this weekend. He qualified 10th for Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 so there’s some room for place differential fantasy points as well.
Erik Jones ($9,100) – Erik Jones is currently on a six-race streak of top 10 finishes, and although he has been pretty inconsistent on the 1.5-mile tracks this season, there’s a pretty good chance that he makes it seven in a row here on Sunday. The best part of that is that Jones will be credited with the 24th-place starting spot this weekend thanks to his spin during the second round of qualifying. Unfortunately, Erik will probably have to start from the back of the field–the #77 team will probably put new tires on the car–but it’s not impossible for a driver to make his/her way through the field here at Chicagoland. Jones was 12th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday and ranked 14th-fastest in Happy Hour later that day.
Other viable options: Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman
FOX Fantasy Auto Fade Option
Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,100) – To be clear, Martin Truex, Jr. is my pick to win the Tales of the Turtles 400 here at Chicagoland on Sunday, but he won’t be making my FOX Fantasy Auto team for a couple of reasons. First, because he qualified 3rd this weekend, the maximum points that Truex can earn on Sunday in this game is 47, and that’s if he wins the race and leads the most laps. And, more importantly, the second reason I’m not picking Truex this week is because of his ridiculously high ownership percentage; as of Saturday afternoon, nearly 2/3rds of FOX Fantasy Auto players had Truex on their roster! And a big part of that is because FOX continually refuses to put his salary at the correct amount, but that’s a whole different argument. Anyway, with players only scoring points from finishing position and place differential in FOX Fantasy Auto, I’ll gladly play the strategy game every week by avoiding a driver that’s so highly owned by my competitors. Remember, no finish is guaranteed in NASCAR no matter how good your car is, and momentum isn’t really on Truex’s side right now…