Fresh off the first road course race of the 2019 season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for Sunday’s Camping World 400. The race will already be the sixth of the year at a mile-and-a-half oval, and now that we have a decent sample size to work with, the unknowns of the new reduced-horsepower rules package aren’t nearly as daunting. In fact, Sunday’s trip to Chicagoland should be a golden opportunity to put up some big totals in your season-long Fantasy NASCAR leagues.
Fears that the new rules would lead to chaos on the track and shuffle up the driver hierarchy have been completely dismissed, and as has been the case for years, the big names form the big teams continue to dominate at these 1.5-mile tracks. Heading into this weekend, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are your Top 5 in points scored in the five races at the mile-and-a-half tracks.
Since it has been business as usual at tracks like Chicagoland, I think you will want to be aggressive with your lineups for both the Driver Group Game and Fantasy Live. There tends to be a little less attrition at the 1.5-mile tracks, and more importantly, the drivers with the best cars tend to run well from start to finish, piling up valuable stage points in the process.
As we get later in the year, budgeting your driver allocations becomes crucial as the starts available from the stronger options start to dwindle a bit. However, I don’t like trying to get to creative at the mile-and-a-half tracks because they tend to be the safest spots to use your heavy hitters. I’d rather load up my lineups at Chicagoland and other intermediate ovals and try to save some starts at Daytona, Pocono, Bristol and Watkins Glen that are still to come.
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1. Kyle Busch, #18 M&M’s, Joe Gibbs Racing
Busch is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has cracked the Top 10 in six of the last seven races at Chicagoland. He has also led 20-plus laps in the last six races here, leading 40-plus five times. Busch has scored the fourth-most points at the mile-and-a-half tracks in 2019, logging four Top 10s in the five races. He should be a great option in all formats.
2. Martin Truex, Jr., #19 Bass Pro Shops, Joe Gibbs Racing
His last three starts at Chicagoland have resulted in a pair of wins and a fourth-place finish, and Truex has led more than 30 laps in three of the last four races here. He’s also been gaining momentum at the 1.5-mile ovals this year, leading 116 laps in a win at Charlotte a few weeks back.
3. Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite/Discount Tires, Team Penske
Keselowski is the only driver with multiple wins at 1.5-mile tracks in 2019, and he should be back in the mix for another victory this weekend. He has reeled off eight straight Top 10 finishes at Chicagoland, picking up a couple of wins during that streak.
4. Kevin Harvick, #4 Jimmy Johns/Busch Beer, Stewart-Haas Racing
People have been focusing on his lack of wins in 2019, but Harvick has still managed to score the most points and lead the most laps in the five races at mile-and-a-half ovals this year. He also leads all drivers with five Top 5s in the last eight races at Chicagoland, and he has back-to-back third-place finishes here, leading 30-plus laps in both of those starts.
5. Chase Elliott, #9 NAPA Auto Parts, Hendrick Motorsports
Elliott has finished in the Top 3 and led more than 40 laps in two of his three starts at Chicagoland, and he has been a force at the 1.5-mile ovals this season. He has scored the second-most points in the five races, leading at least 35 laps in the last three and cracking the Top 5 at both Kansas and Charlotte. He’s a potential Group A alternative for the Driver Group Game, and he should be an excellent option at Fantasy Live and the DFS sites.