Welcome to the Chase NASCAR degenerates! Last week Kyle Larson benefited from a late caution to take the lead off pit road from Martin Truex and steal the victory. Hamlin ended up making contact with Truex and sending him into the wall, which ironically worked out better for my week with the unique Larson LUs. Newman continued running well with his 3rd place finish but Matt Kenseth experienced some really bad luck in a strange situation where the ambulance was in a bad spot entering pit road, causing cars to bunch up and ultimately end Matt’s night. That’s the stuff you can’t predict but also what we love about NASCAR.
This week we turn to Chicagoland as the Chase begins. This is the place where the strong get stronger and begin to separate themselves from the rest. I expect that this week and I believe salaries reflect that. Stacking two top contenders will be very difficult but I do see some value in other places I’m keeping an eye on. Let’s get to it.
Martin Truex Jr. $10,700 – I mentioned this is where the best begins to separate from the rest and there’s no question who the favorite is going into the Chase. And no reason to think he’s slowing down. Defending winner of this race and is a beast at 1.5 mile tracks. There have been six 1.5 mile races this year and Truex has won 3 of them with a 3.7 average. Even at this price it may be a bargain.
Kyle Busch $10,600 – We all know Busch and Truex have been on top for the past couple months. Don’t be surprised if they’re 1-2 in prices from here on out, with Dega possibly the exception. Has reeled off five straight T10s here and has led over 250 laps in those races. Has started and finished inside the T5 in the last four intermediate track races this year. Could this be the week he can dethrone Truex as the 1.5 mile king?
Kyle Larson $10,400 – If it wasn’t for Martin Truex Jr, it’s possible we’d be talking about Larson’s results at 1.5 mile tracks this year. He has five runner up finishes and led 124 laps two weeks ago at Darlington. Career average of 9.33 here and a safe bet to be at the front for the majority of Sunday.
Chase Elliott $9,900 – In his only start here last year, he looked great. He finished 3rd and led 75 laps. Has been solid at 1.5 mile tracks this year and if you want to be unique at the top, Chase is a great place to start if avoiding everyone above $10K.
Jimmie Johnson $9,100 – You can’t mention the Chase and a championship without mentioning ‘Seven Time’. Has never won here but does have 7 career T5s with a career finish of 9.4. Also led 118 laps here last year despite finishing 12.
Ryan Blaney $8,700 – Another young guy with only one start here but finished 4th here last year. He’s a T5 lap leader in 1.5 mile tracks this year and average finish of 12.5. Has shown ability to qualify up front and
Kurt Busch $8,100 – Had a rough stretch a few weeks back but Kurt and his team seem to have found something with three straight T5s. Has been hit and miss at Chicago but does have four straight T15s with two T5s in there. He’s moving in the right direction at the right time and looks good at this price.
Ryan Newman $7,500 – Will continue riding him until he does me wrong or prices adjust. Comes to Chicagoland with four straight T7 including a 3rd last week after starting 27th. Hasn’t been as good at Chicago with RCR but has been in the T10 in seven of the last ten here with his only one finish outside of the T20.
Ty Dillon $6,900 – Has only one Cup race here with a 27th place finish last year. However it’s obvious he’s made strides forward this year. Can almost pencil him in weekly for an 18th-22nd without incident but has potential to sneak into T15.
Aric Almirola $6,000 – In five races at Chicago, he has three T20, including a 10th place finish in 2015. However he does have two finishes outside of 30th as well. We learned this week he won’t be returning to RPM next year so these 10 races could be a tryout for him in a new ride. Since his return, he’s averaging 25.0 but does have four T20s.
** I’m also running a NASCAR pool/contest for the races in the Chase and the details are on my Twitter page. Be sure to check it out and let me know if you have any questions.
Boogity boogity boogity! Let the Chase begin!
*Weekly disclaimer: This was written before qualifying. Be sure to make note of any car/engine changes and qualifying position as value may change once starting position is established