The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas for the Auto Trader EchoPark Automotive 500 after Chris Buescher‘s win at Bristol. Let’s dive into the track information NASCAR DFS players need to know, what to expect at this weekend’s race and early NASCAR fantasy advice.
NASCAR DFS: Auto Trader EchoPark Automotive 500
Texas Motor Speedway Information
- Track: Texas Motor Speedway
- Location: Fort Worth, Texas
- Length: 1.5 miles (asphalt)
- Banking: 20 degrees in turns one and two, 24 degrees in turns three and four
- Best corollary tracks: Kansas, Las Vegas, Charlotte
- Dominator Points:
- DraftKings: 83.5 – laps led, 150.3 – fastest laps
- FanDuel: 33.4 – laps led
- Past winners: Kyle Larson (2021), Kyle Busch (2020B), Austin Dillon (2021A)
- Betting favorite: Denny Hamlin +600
- Entry List: 36 drivers, including Garrett Smithley (15), Noah Gragson (16), and Landon Cassill (77)
- Weather: High of 97, mostly sunny
- Watch: USA, NBCSports.com
- Listen: PRN (PRN, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/XM Channel 90)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Saturday, September 24
- 12:35 p.m.: Practice
- 1:20 p.m.: Qualifying
- Sunday, September 25
- 3:30 p.m.: green flag (105/210/334 laps)
2022 Auto Trader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR DFS Picks
After 29 races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, the newly formed Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing finally got the result it’s been working for all year. Co-owner Brad Keselowski found his way leading 100+ laps, by far his most all year, but ended his night in 13th. However, as a new owner, Keselowski will gladly trade a win of his own in exchange for his fellow driver Buescher getting the win as the first real victory for RFK Racing. Buescher’s win was the first for veteran owner Jack Roush since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. found victory lane twice during the 2017 season at Talladega and Daytona. On a different tire strategy as compared to the fellow Ford squads of Penske and Stewart-Haas, who suffered from flat-right tires, the duo of Keselowski and Buescher stormed their way to the front, making the most of pit strategy, and showed that this team can compete at more than just superspeedways.
Buescher’s win marked the 19th different winner through just 29 races – a new record for victors in a Cup season. This is also the first time in recent memory wherein a playoff round didn’t have a single repeat winner, much less a playoff driver to go to victory lane. This spike in winners can only be attributed to the Generation Seven car. However, what remains to be seen is if this spike is due to the car “leveling” the field or if so much variance has been added due to failing parts as teams sort out the bugs in the first year of the Generation Seven vehicle. 2023 will be a litmus test of both theories, as the off-season should provide ample time to figure out if the smaller squads can keep pace with the larger teams in research and development. It will also give the parts providers time to fix the issues that have plagued teams, like the detents on the hub that probably cost Kevin Harvick a shot at a win and advancing into the second round of the playoffs.
Unfortunate to see stuck detents affect a race again. This is something that I’ve brought up in the past that should see a redesign and will link some of my older threads on it below. https://t.co/AB9aVeDkRj
— Bozi Tatarevic (@BoziTatarevic) September 19, 2022
2022 Playoff Points Standings
With that Buescher victory, once again, no one stamped an automatic ticket into the second round, including the four drivers who were eliminated via points. The four drivers who fell below the points threshold were Kyle Busch (who lost his second engine in three playoff races), Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and the aforementioned Harvick. Now Richard Childress Racing can set its gaze on 2023 with potentially three drivers, however, most insiders expect a buyout to occur that will allow Reddick to move on a season early while preventing Richard Childress from having to lease a third charter for just next year. Harvick, meanwhile, has time to tweet more about NASCAR. As a veteran voice of the sport, hopefully, he can put a fire under the feet of NASCAR to expedite the changes needed for 2023.
As the playoff points reset at Texas on Sunday, Chase Elliott finds himself in first again up 31 points. Joey Logano falls back to second, trailing Elliott by 15, up 16 points to the cutoff line. Following closely behind Logano are Ross Chastain (+11) and Kyle Larson (+10), rounding out the top four. Six points above the cutoff sit William Byron, joined by a logjam of drivers just four points above the threshold (Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Ryan Blaney). It’s an odd feature of the way the playoff points get reshuffled that Bell could be the first driver to lock himself into the second round to being tied for the last spot once those points reset in the second round.
On the outside looking in are Chase Briscoe (-4), Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez (-6) and Austin Cindric (-7). In all, just 11 points separate seven drivers as the second round gets underway at Texas. Thus, the playoff grid today could look wildly different come this time next week at Talladega. This brings up the wild card of this second round. Following Texas, the Series moves to Talladega and the Charlotte Roval. With the uncertainty that both of those tracks bring, Texas presents the best baseline opportunity to accrue playoff points this round, while a win could make the next two races moot points and allow a playoff team to begin focusing on the third round. However, at the rate this season has been going, it shouldn’t be out of the question for a 20th different driver, and non-playoff driver, to take the checkered flag and add another asterisk to this season’s playoffs.
2021 Texas Review and Expectations for Sunday
If “coffee is for closers,” then Kyle Larson reserved the entire pot last year at Texas. As the third round of the playoffs kicked off, Larson put his stamp on it by winning this race at Texas in commanding fashion only to follow that up at Kansas with another convincing win. The 2021 season will go down in NASCAR lore for many seasons to come, not only for the sheer number of wins that Larson had but for the way he closed out the year winning three of the final four events.
The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 didn’t start off as Larson had planned though, leading from the green flag up to the competition caution (27) only to yield the lead to Byron. The lead wouldn’t be Byron’s for long as a 12-car incident on lap 32 would bring out the yellow flag. When the green flag waved again, Byron would lose the lead for a singular lap to Martin Truex Jr. but then grabbed it right back on lap 41 and led for another 42 laps. After getting caught in traffic, Larson reined Byron back in to lead for another 11 laps. After cycling through green flag pit stops (gas and go stops), Kyle Busch inherited the lead and led for 20 laps through the end of stage one and into the beginning of stage two.
However, this is where the lead shuffling stopped. On lap 117, Larson grabbed the lead from Busch and would park himself in first for the remainder of the race. Despite eight more restarts, Larson proved impossible to get around once he established himself with the preferred groove and clean air as he led the final 218 laps. While Larson was on a definite tear at this point, with the surface at Texas being less than five years old at this point, it was only natural that a fast driver could establish a lead and never relinquish it.
This scenario played itself out again this summer in the All-Star Race as the drivers who started first, with lane choice, were able to replicate Larson’s results as Kyle Busch (the pole sitter) led from lap one through 47, before getting wrecked out by Chastain. After that, Blaney took the lead on lap 57 and led until the end on lap 140. The only variable on Sunday that could keep this year’s iteration from being another lap turner is the projected heat approaching triple-digits by the green flag. With track temperatures that could be north of 130 degrees, Texas could be a hot, slick mess and if teams get aggressive with their right-front tire camber setups, then there could be a myriad of wrecks and restart opportunities.
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