The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is making a stop at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, so it only seems right we make some money playing NASCAR DFS at DraftKings.
Vegas is a fast, 1.5-mile oval, and after a largely uneventful qualifying session, the formula for success isn’t hard to figure out. We just need to pick the right pieces.
I’ll be leading off a majority of my lineups with a couple of big names who are starting up front. History at Vegas and at mile-and-a-half tracks in general says that the lap leaders are going to come from the first few rows, and the trends also suggest that a couple of drivers are going to lead a majority of the laps.
With the dominator categories taken care of, we can turn our attention to the remainder of our roster. I recommend a cheap driver or two who have safe floors through place differential, especially in GPPs, to free up enough money to go after some stronger No. 3 and No. 4 drivers. In cash games, you can go with a more balanced lineup, taking advantage of the more reliable mid-priced options.
Check out all my top plays for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta, and get your lineups set at DraftKings. If you have any other questions, reach out to me at @BPolking or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Must Own Drivers
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500)
On the heels of a fourth-place run in qualifying, Truex showed strong speed on both short and long runs in race trim Saturday. He led 150 laps on his way to the win at Las Vegas last year, and he was in a class by himself at the 1.5-mile ovals throughout 2017. From what I’ve seen this weekend, I have no reason to expect much to change. Look for Truex to provide at least a few dominator points and potentially finish as the top scorer.
Kevin Harvick ($10,300)
Harvick is putting together another strong weekend, and after showing excellent long run speed following his second-place qualifying run, he could be on his way to backing up his win at Atlanta with another trip to victory lane. At the very least, Harvick should deliver his share of dominator points while contending for a Top 5.
Brad Keselowski ($9,400)
He has the pedigree at Vegas, and over the last five races, Keselowski leads all drivers with two wins, a 3.4 average finish and five Top 10s. He’s shown Top 5 speed again this weekend, and I really liked his long-run speed in Happy Hour. I think he has a good shot at some dominator points, and I fully expect him to land in the Top 5 Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($8,700)
Blaney starts on the pole, and in addition to having the inside track to some early dominator points, he also showed serious speed in race trim, pacing final practice. Last year, he started on the front row in two races at 1.5-mile tracks, and he led 80-plus laps in both of them. Blaney should provide solid exposure to the dominator categories at a big discount.
Joey Logano ($9,300)
Logano has showed solid speed all weekend, qualifying in the Top 10 and landing in the Top 15 in both practices. Throw in a consistent record at Vegas that includes a 6.4 average finish and 170 laps led in five starts with Team Penske, and Logano’s floor starts at around 30 fantasy points and goes up front there.
Denny Hamlin ($9,100)
He had a disappointing 19th-place effort in qualifying, but when final practice rolled around, Hamlin looked like a Top 10 driver. He actually has eight straight Top 10s at mile-and-a-half tracks dating back to last season, and he has seven Top 5s in that span. With more place differential potential than any of the other big names, Hamlin should be a great No. 2 or No. 3 driver in cash lineups.
Aric Almirola ($7,700)
There is no denying that Almirola missed the setup a bit this weekend, but he showed some life in final practice and this is still a Top 15-caliber team that is starting 29th. Even if he only salvages a Top 20, he is going to deliver a solid score for the price. With the place differential category to fall back on, Almirola should be one of the safer plays below the $8,000 mark this weekend.
Ryan Newman ($7,100)
Newman qualified way back in 25th, but he jumped to the top of the charts in the first practice Saturday and remained in the Top 10 in Happy Hour. A cut tire ruined his day at Atlanta last weekend, but Newman showed borderline Top 10 speed. With all the upside he has in the place differential category, he should have an incredibly safe floor for the price.
Ty Dillon ($6,500)
He had a terrible qualifying run, but Dillon looked like he had more of a 20th-to-25th-place car during practice Saturday. Starting 31st all but guarantees that he will gain points in the place differential category, giving him the safe floor and potential upside you want in a cheaper cash game play.
Kyle Larson ($9,800)
If you are looking for an alternative to popular dominators like Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., Larson is my favorite contrarian. He starts fifth, and he showed excellent speed in race trim Saturday, looking like the man to beat in final practice. He also finished second at Vegas last year, and while he didn’t lead a lot of laps at the 1.5-mile tracks outside of Homestead, he certainly has the ability to go out and dominate a race.
Erik Jones ($8,300)
He’s been rock solid all weekend, qualifying in the Top 10 and showing Top 10 speed on both short and long runs in race trim. Jones might not have a car capable of providing dominator points, but a Top 10 finish and 30-plus fantasy points seem like his floor. I think Jones could be an overlooked, mid-priced gem this weekend.
Clint Bowyer ($8,100)
Bowyer finished in the Top 10 at Vegas last year, and his third-place run at Atlanta last weekend was one of his best since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Starting 11th, he doesn’t jump out as an obvious play this weekend. However, Bowyer showed Top 10 speed in practice Saturday, and he could be a mid-priced gem at DraftKings for the second week in a row.
Daniel Suarez ($7,300)
Suarez has been delivering Top 15s at the mile-and-a-half tracks dating back to the second half of last season, and he is coming off another Top 15 at Atlanta last weekend. For once, he actually has some place differential upside after qualifying 18th, and even though there are several cheaper options starting even deeper in the field, Suarez is one of the few with legitimate Top 10 potential. He showed some speed in final practice, and he offers a big ceiling at this price.
Trevor Bayne ($6,300)
There are some other decent options starting even deeper in the field, but Bayne could be a nice low-priced alternative for bigger tournaments. He starts 24th and didn’t wow in practice, but he has finished 17th and 13th in his last two starts at Las Vegas, and he has gained an average of 10.4 spots per race over his last five starts at the track.
Chris Buescher ($5,700)
He finished 23rd at Las Vegas last year, and Buescher closed last season with six Top 20s in the final eight races at mile-and-a-half tracks. He is coming off a lackluster 25th-place run at Atlanta, but starting 28th, he should at least finish with a positive place differential. If he happens to have one of his Top 20 performances, he could end up being the punt play that wins you a bunch of money.
Drivers to Fade
Kyle Busch ($10,000)
Busch has been boom or bust at Vegas to begin with, and after a mediocre qualifying run and good but not great practice times, he is far from a lock to provide any dominator points this weekend. At this price, Busch needs to post a big point total to make him a worthwhile pick. I’m not sure he has a car to do that Sunday.
Kurt Busch ($8,500)
It’s really hard to find a reason to be optimistic about Busch this weekend. He struggled in both practices Saturday, and his numbers at Las Vegas leave a lot to be desired. In 16 starts, he has just one Top 5, four Top 10s and a 21.8 average finish. More concerning, he a 9.4 average starting position, so he had typically faded on race day. Busch starts third this weekend, and if he does his typical freefall through the field, he could ruin your lineups.