The Fantasy Live Playoff Game has three races in the books and seven races to go. The picks are slowly climbing up the leaderboard. They outscored 91% of the entries after the race at Darlington, climbed to 94% after the race at Kansas and now have outscored 95.8% of the entries after the race at Bristol. My goal every year is to outscore 99% of the entries in both the regular season and playoff games. We are trending in the right direction. We just need some good luck in the Lone Star State Sunday.
FANTASY LIVE PLAYOFF FORMAT
There are 10 races in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. We can use each driver 5 times. Each driver will score points the same way they scored points in the regular season game. The difference is that the 4 drivers competing for the 2023 NASCAR Championship will NOT score Stage Points at Phoenix. The rest of the field will score Stage Points if they finish in the top-10 of the Stage.
The strategy for Fantasy Live is easy this week. Simply play the best drivers. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Tyler Reddick are locks for my starting lineup. They have clearly been the best drivers this year on the intermediate tracks and they all have good track history at Texas. The best drivers to pair with the drivers listed above include Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott. You cannot go wrong with any of these drivers in your lineup Sunday.
The Cup Series teams had 20-minutes to shake down their cars for Sunday’s race at Texas. We can learn a bit by looking at the single-lap speeds, but I will be focusing on the 10-lap average speed for the picks for Sunday’s race. Here are the driver’s speeds from the practice session Saturday at Texas…
FANTASY LIVE LINEUP
DENNY HAMLIN (3): Hamlin has a lot of momentum entering the Round of 12. He finished second two weeks ago at Kansas and won the race last week at Bristol. His average green flag speed on the 1.5-mile tracks this year is the best in the Cup Series. Hamlin posted the eighth-fastest speed in practice and qualified 10th for the race. He should score a lot of points in your Fantasy Live lineup Sunday.
KYLE LARSON (4): Larson has been the best driver in the playoffs this year. He won the race at Darlington, finished fourth at Kansas and second last week at Bristol. Now he gets to compete at a track where he has the best driver rating (125.6) and the best average finishing position (5th) over the last four races at Texas. Larson should be a serious threat to win Sunday at Texas.
CHRISTOPHER BELL (3): Bell had the fastest car in the first round of the playoffs. He won the pole for every race and scored a lot of Stage Points. Can he do it again at Texas? I think so. Bell has been pretty consistent on the 1.5-mile tracks this year with a fifth-place finish at Las Vegas and an eighth-place finish at Kansas. The No. 20 car has the speed to score a lot of points for your Fantasy Live lineup.
BUBBA WALLACE (5): Wallace entered the race at Bristol below the cut line. He had a solid, but emotional race that ended up with the No. 23 car advancing to the Round of 12. Can Wallace build on that momentum in the Round of 12? I think he can. He finished fourth at Las Vegas, fourth at Kansas and fourth at Charlotte this year. His car has top-10 speed Sunday. Wallace just needs to be mistake free and he should score a lot of points for our Fantasy Live lineup.
BRAD KESELOWSKI (3): Old Man Keselowski has his RFK Racing team running on all cylinders right now. He finished sixth at Darlington, ninth at Kansas and eighth at Bristol in the Round of 12. He won the pole, led 31 laps, scored 11 Stage Points and finished eighth at Texas last year. Keselowski has six consecutive top-10 finishes at Texas. This is by far his best intermediate track. It is a good idea to take a chance with the No. 6 car Sunday.
GARAGE DRIVER: KYLE BUSCH (5): Can the real Kyle Busch show up this week? We all know he has the talent to win, but the No. 8 team has made numerous mistakes this summer. Busch is driving the car that won this race last year. He posted top-10 speed in practice and qualified in the top-10. I will have Rowdy in the Garage as an insurance policy Sunday.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.
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