The first race of the 2023 Cup Series season is in the books. So, did you survive Daytona? The strategy last week was to simply survive the wrecks and hope you could find a driver who could finish in the top-15. Corey LaJoie was my pick. He ran up front for some of the race and finished 16th. It was not the top-15 finish I was hoping for, but it is going to be tough to find many races where LaJoie finishes higher than 16th, so I will take it.
Here are my picks for the Pala Casino 400…
ONE & DONE CONTESTS
These picks are for games where you can only use a driver once throughout the season.
ARIC ALMIROLA will be my One & Done pick this week. I want to save my top drivers until we get more data for the 2023 season. We really do not know which manufactures will be the best at each type of track. I will take a chance with Almirola. He has a history of getting off to a hot start and then fading over the season. Almirola has finished 6th, 8th and 9th at Auto Club Speedway since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. I will gladly take a top-10 finish from Almirola this week.
ONE & DONE (REGULAR SEASON/PLAYOFF GAMES)
These picks are for games where you are allowed to use a driver once in the regular season (the first 26 races) and then you can use them again in the playoffs, if your team advances in the playoffs. We only need 26 drivers in these games so we can be a bit more aggressive with our picks. Here are my picks for games that reset at the end of the regular season…
KYLE LARSON won the race at Auto Club last year. Can he win again in his home state? I think he can. Larson qualified 13th, led 28 laps, scored 12 Stages Points and went to Victory Lane in this race last year. The last race on a similar track to Auto Club is the race at Homestead last October. Larson won the race at Homestead too. Larson starts 15th Sunday. You may think that is too deep in the field for Larson to win from, but he won this race last year from the 13th position. Larson will be the top pick in the field Sunday. I will pull the trigger and use Larson Sunday.
ONE & DONE (USE A DRIVER MORE THAN ONCE)
I play in a game where I can use a driver three times throughout the season. I know some of you have told me you can use your drivers twice. We will only need 18 drivers in these games, so we do not need to dig too deep with our picks. Here are my picks in games where you can use a driver more than once….
JOEY LOGANO has been running too well to fade. He won two of the last three meaningful races (Las Vegas and Phoenix) and the No. 22 car finished second in the other race (Daytona). The No. 22 team really did not care about the races at Homestead or Martinsville since Logano was already locked into the championship race. The No. 22 car starts third Sunday. I expect Logano to take the early lead, score a lot of Stage Points and once again finish in the top-five at Auto Club Speedway.
Good luck this week!
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