In a game like Slingshot Fantasy Auto, there’s one major differentiating factor in addition to finishing position, and that is place differential. So that’s a good sign heading into Sunday evening, as there are some top tier Fantasy NASCAR drivers starting outside of the top half of the field. Of course, with the way points are distributed in Slingshot this year (compared to last season), running up front pays dividends as well, in the form of Stage points as well as higher finish points overall. With that being said, those aforementioned drivers should be able to get to the front early on Sunday. There are a lot of good options available for the Pennzoil 400 but below are the five I’m rolling with. You can find the full starting lineup for the Pennzoil 400 by clicking here.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Picks for Las Vegas
Brad Keselowski ($12,000) – Last week’s winner at Atlanta is looking to make it two-in-a-row to start the season on the 1.5-mile tracks, and I think he has a great shot at doing that. Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been a source of consistent success for Brad Keselowski, as he’s finished 7th or better in each of the last seven races here. Even better? He’s gone to victory lane in three of them, including the fall race last year. The #2 Ford is going to be starting back in 19th when the Pennzoil 400 goes green on Sunday but Kez should have no problem finishing near the front in all three Stages. He ranked 5th-fastest in Saturday’s only post-qualifying practice session and also clocked in 3rd on the ten-lap average chart. I also don’t mind going with Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,300) in this spot, especially since he starts a little further back in 23rd, but that salary just doesn’t fit into the lineup I want to go with on Sunday. Both are great Fantasy NASCAR picks at Las Vegas.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000) – Ryan Blaney got credit for a 22nd-place finish at Atlanta last weekend, but let’s not forget that the #12 Ford led for 41 laps that day, and probably could have contended for the win if not for a flat tire. Shifting our focus to Las Vegas, though, Blaney’s story is very similar to Keselowski: consistent success. Ryan finished 19th in his first start here back in 2015, but hasn’t looked back since, posting finishes between 5th and 7th in each of the four races. This weekend, the #12 Ford will start from 13th, so there’s a little room for place differential points and also a good chance Blaney gets Stage points in the first two sections of the race. Practice-wise, Blaney didn’t look stellar on Saturday, but I think we’re looking at a similar situation with the Penske cars as we saw last weekend at Atlanta: they’ll wake up on race day.
Aric Almirola ($10,900) – Aric Almirola is the place differential anchor I’m going with for Las Vegas, as he starts back in 25th but could easily end up with a top 10 finish when it’s all said and done. This #10 crew simply missed the setup and timing for qualifying on Friday, and even though the Stewart-Haas Fords didn’t look overly great as a whole during practice on Saturday, I’m not too concerned about that. Almirola finished top 10 in both Las Vegas races last season–his first year with Stewart-Haas–and has posted a top 10 finish in each of the last six races on 1.5-mile tracks overall. I’m expecting that to be seven in a row after Sunday.
Erik Jones ($10,700) – General rule of thumb: you can’t really go wrong with Erik Jones at 1.5-mile tracks. And the best part about it is that a lot of people overlook Jones in the Fantasy NASCAR world because he’s not that flashy driver with race-winning potential. But if you have other drivers like that on your roster, he makes a great complimentary driver–and a safe one, too. Here at Las Vegas, Jones has a spotty record, with finishes of 15th, 8th, and 40th, but don’t overlook the fact that in races that he didn’t crash out of, Erik has an average running position of 10.5 (8th-best) and spent 95.5% of the laps inside the top 15 (5th-best). He’ll get some place differential points on Sunday, too, as the #20 Toyota rolls off the grid from 18th.
Ross Chastain ($5,400) – Essentially, I’m hoping for the best when it comes to Ross Chastain. Last year, the #15 Chevrolet was good for a 28th-to-30th place finish for most weeks, which equals around 36 to 32 points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Throw in place differential points and we’re looking at about 56 points maximum out of Chastain on Sunday, with really no risk at all (since he starts dead last). If you want to afford the top tier drivers, you have to dip down to these bottom feeder guys, and Ross Chastain is the safest pick of those.