Cash on DraftKings with Brian Polking's top ISM Connect 300 NASCAR DFS plays this weekend!
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, and the second trip to “The Magic Mile” also happens to be the second race of the playoffs.
Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 is scheduled for 300 laps, so when you start to assemble your DFS lineups at DraftKings, the dominator categories should once again have your full attention. Passing is tough at the flat, 1.0-mile oval, but while pit strategy often plays a significant role in deciding the outcome of races, history says you can still count on a couple of drivers leading a majority of the laps.
In the five races here since the start of 2015, a driver has led 50-plus laps in a single race 11 times, and there have been seven drivers who have led more than 100 laps in a race in that same span. Five of those seven drivers started third or better, and all seven started in the Top 10. Meanwhile, all 11 drivers who led 50-plus laps in a race in that stretch started 12th or better.
Yes, there will still be opportunities in the place differential category, and you will probably be able to find a couple of drivers starting deeper in the field who use pit strategy to come away solid finishes. However, your lineup isn’t making any noise if you don’t first hit on the dominator points, so don’t be shy about paying up for a couple of studs to anchor your lineups.
Qualifying is set for 5:00 p.m. ET Friday, but before the starting lineup is set, check out the drivers I’ll be targeting ahead of Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch ($10,700)
A speeding penalty derailed Busch in the July race at New Hampshire, but he still managed to rank second in both dominator categories with 95 laps led and 39 fastest laps run. Busch has finished in the Top 10 in seven of his last nine starts here, finishing third or better five times. Overall, he ranks first in fastest laps led and fourth in fastest laps run at the track. I like his chances of finishing as one of the top scorers Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500)
The guy is in a class by himself when it comes to earning dominator points, and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. He has led more than 120 laps in each of the last three races at New Hampshire, and in the July race, he led a race-high 137 laps and ranked first with 76 fastest laps run. Truex is the safest driver to build your lineups around.
Kyle Larson ($9,500)
Larson had an interesting trip to New Hampshire in July. He initially won the pole until his time was disallowed, forcing him to start 39th. He climbed all the way to third by the end of Stage 1 and ended up finishing second while ranking third with 38 fastest laps run. The odds of him having anywhere close to that much upside through place differential again this weekend are slim, but if he doesn’t have to start at the back, there’s no reason he can’t pile up even more dominator points. I love him as a potential pivot to Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr. this weekend.
Matt Kenseth ($9,400)
It’s remarkable how well Kenseth has performed since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. He has led 329 career laps at New Hampshire, and he has led 325 of them in nine races with JGR, including 105 in the September race last season. He has also finished in the Top 10 in eight of his nine starts in the No. 20, winning three times and reeling and finishing fourth or better in his last four starts. He could be a cheaper alternative for dominator points this weekend.
Joey Logano (8,700)
It hasn’t been the year anyone expected out of Logano, but he showed some pride at Chicagoland. He was the only non-playoff driver to finish in the Top 10, and a similar run could be on tap Sunday. Logano has finished 11th or better in five of his last six starts at New Hampshire, notching four Top 5s in that span. His price tag has fallen to the point where he can be a solid No. 3 driver based purely on finishing position. Any upside through place differential will only boost his value.
Erik Jones ($7,800)
His hot streak came to an end last weekend at Chicagoland, but Jones still has six Top 10s in his last seven starts and four finishes of sixth or better in his last five. Damage on pit road and a cut tire ruined his first start at New Hampshire, but anytime you can roster a driver with Top 5 potential for less than $8,000, you should take advantage. I’ll have some exposure to Jones no matter where he qualifies.
Daniel Suarez ($7,500)
The sample size is as small as you can get, but after a sixth-place finish in his New Hampshire debut in July, Suarez is hard to ignore this weekend. He gained eight spots in that race, but at this price, the potential for a Top 10 finish alone is enough to put him on your radar, especially for GPP lineups.
Austin Dillon ($7,000)
I was surprised to see Dillon so affordable this weekend. After all, he has been delivering solid finishes at New Hampshire throughout his Cup career, and he has been a beast in the place differential category. In seven starts here, he has six finishes of 16th or better and owns an average differential of +8.0. Dillon gained 13 spots in the September race last season and 11 spots in the July event this year. If he starts in the back half of the field, I’ll be all over him at this price.
Ty Dillon ($6,700)
He is the third rookie to make the list this weekend, but like Daniel Suarez, Dillon more than held his own in his New Hampshire debut in July. He started 25th and finished 16th, and if he has similar upside through place differential after qualifying, he will be one of my favorite lower-priced plays.
Danica Patrick ($6,100)
Patrick appears to have turned a corner at New Hampshire. She has finished 18th or better in her last three starts here, cracking the Top 15 twice. Patrick has gained an average of 12.7 spots per race in that same span, gaining 17 spots and finishing 13th here in July. At this price, I’ll be interested as long as she qualifies outside the Top 25.