This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the first stop on the West Coast swing, Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This 1.5 mile long track is known for pit strategies and fuel management playing key roles. Not managing fuel properly could lead to losing key positions at the end of the race.
Top Picks for Las Vegas
Last week’s winner at Atlanta Brad Keselowski ($10,400), is looking to win at Vegas for the second consecutive year. In eight starts, the driver of the No. 2 Ford has won twice, had 98 Fastest Laps, which is second-best, and 99 Laps Led.
In his last three starts at Vegas, Keselowski had the best Driver Rating of 119.8 and the highest Average Finishing position of 3.0. Keselowski will be starting on the pole, giving him a chance to lead a lot of laps early for plenty of fantasy points. Factoring in recent history and momentum, Keselowski is the top pick to build your lineups around this week. He will be heavily owned, so you can consider other options if you use multiple lineups and want to go against the favored play.
Kevin Harvick ($10,700) currently leads the points standings despite failing to win last week. In 16 starts at LVMS, Harvick has one win, seven Top 10 finishes, and 224 Laps Led. Since 2005, “Happy” has the third-best DR of 99.6, the third-best Average Running Position of 10.4, 403 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions), which is fourth-most, and 74.3% laps in the Top 15. Harvick will start 19th, giving him huge potential for Place Differential gains. Harvick has run well at LVMS numerous times before, and is the most expensive driver this week. I think he works best as a tournament play. His salary limits your cap flexibility, but you cannot ignore the PD upside.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,200) has not won at Vegas since 2010. “Seven-Time”, however, has, four wins, which is the most of active drivers at LVMS, nine Top 10 finishes, and 576 laps led in 15 starts at the site. In the past 12 Vegas starts, Johnson has a DR of 113.4, 414 Fastest Laps, and an ARP of 9.5, Owners may not be confident in using him because he is not off to a good start in 2017. This makes him a great contrarian pick when you factor in his history at Vegas and his high practice speeds.
Kyle Busch ($10,100) is heading back to his home track. In 12 starts at the site, Rowdy has one win, six Top 10 finishes, and 230 laps led. Since 2005, Kyle Busch has the second-best ARP of 9.6, 426 QPs, which is the second-most, and a DR of 103.4, which also is second-best. In his last three starts, Kyle Busch has a DR of 105.8, which is sixth-best, and an AFP of 7.5, which is fourth-best. Kyle Busch starts ninth and his favorable history makes him one of the best top picks, second-best behind Keselowski.
Joey Logano ($10,000) will be starting sixth at LVMS. In eight starts, Logano has four Top 10 finishes, 166 Laps Led, and an AFP of 10.8, which is the best of all drivers. Logano also has the fourth-best ARP of 11.6, and the fifth-best DR of 94.8. Logano was 14th fastest in final practice. Logano has great history at LVMS, even though he has never won at the site. He is best used if you use multiple tournament entries.
Chase Elliott ($9,700) is still looking for his first career win. In his only previous start, he started 13th and finished 38th after getting involved in an accident. During that race, he had an ARP of 13.2, which was 11th-best, and had 82% laps in the Top 15. Elliott will start 12th and showed good speed as the second fastest in final practice. Elliot’s salary is very high, making it hard to spare salary for other drivers, so he is best suited for using in tournaments as a multiple lineup option.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500) is always one to watch at Intermediate like LVMS. Truex has never won at the site, but does have three Top 10 finishes. Truex has the ninth-best DR of 85.7, the seventh-best AFP of 14.2, and 27 Fastest Laps which is seventh-best. Truex was fastest in both first and final practice. Truex Jr’s favorable history on this type of track makes him a fantastic pick under $10,000.He led more laps than any other driver on intermediate tracks last season.
Matt Kenseth ($9,000) is one of only three drivers in Cup Series history to have won back-to-back races at Vegas. In 17 starts at the site, Kenseth has three victories, nine Top 10 finishes, and 526 laps led. In his last 12 starts, Kenseth has the fourth-best DR of 96.9, 219 Fastest Laps, which is sixth-best, and an ARP of 13.8, which is eighth-best. Kenseth will be starting fourth and has been in the Top 5 fastest speeds in all practice sessions. Kenseth’s recent speed and history shows he is a high-quality pick.
Kasey Kahne ($8,400) is looking for his first career victory at LVMS. In 13 starts, Kahne has seven Top 10 finishes,172 laps led, and 2 DNFs. The two times Kahne failed to finish at LVMS were the only two times he didn’t finish inside the Top 20. Since 2005, Kahne has the seventh-best DR of 89.1, the 10th-best AFP of 14.4, and 68.4% Laps in the Top 15, which is sixth-best. Kahne starts seventh, and has been hot with two Top 10 finishes so far this season. Kahne has been in the Top 10 fastest practice speeds during all three sessions. Of all the drivers in the $8,000 range, Kahne is the one of the very best picks this week.
Kurt Busch ($8,300) has never won at his home track in 15 starts. The “Outlaw”, however, has four top 10s, 85 Laps Led, and DNFs in a fifth of his total starts. In his last 12 starts, he also has the 14th-best DR of 81.6, and the 16th-best AFP of 21.8. Kurt Busch has a solid salary and good potential for Place Differential from 17th. He is off to a hot start, with two finishes in the Top 10 this season, but was 21st quickest in final practice. Kurt Busch is a pick that is best used as a lighter tournament play due to slow practice speeds and mixed history despite early-season momentum from the previous races.
Bargain Picks of $7,500 or Less
Ryan Blaney ($7,400) has only two starts at Vegas, but continues to look impressive. Blaney has two Top 20 finishes with a sixth-place finish in his last start. Blaney also has an ARP of 15.9 which is 12th-best, and 49.3% laps in the Top 15, which is also 12th-best. Blaney starts third and has been in the Top 10 in all three practice sessions. This makes him the ideal pick to fit in your lineup from the $7,000 range this week
Erik Jones ($7,100) will be making his first career start at LVMS. Last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jones was running inside the Top 10 for most of the race after starting 23rd. He finished 14th with a Place Differential of +9. Jones will be starting eighth and was 11th fastest in final practice. The rookie is boom-or-bust so far the past two races, but will be worth it as a bargain play.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700) finished 13th last week and will be starting 29th with huge potential for Place Differential. In four starts, Stenhouse has two Top 20 finishes, 12 Fastest Laps, and 41.1% laps in the Top 15. Stenhouse is going to be in a backup car after a suffering damage in final practice. Stenhouse still has finished with a positive Place Differential in his last two starts, so he is one of the absolute best bargains below $7,000. Going to the backup car may make him less owned, so that makes him a good pick because he can easily move up from both the back and his original starting position.
Ty Dillon ($6,500) is another driver that will be making his Cup Series debut at LVMS. Last week at AMS, Ty Dillon started 26th and finished 15th. Ty Dillon has four finishes of 11th or better in the Xfinity Series at LVMS. Starting 24th, Ty Dillon is a top bargain pick with great Place Differential potential.
Paul Menard ($6,800) only finished outside the Top 20 in his first three starts at Vegas (10 overall). He has three Top 10 finishes with nine laps led and an ARP of 17.8. Menard starts 14th and is one of the best bargain picks below $7,000, especially when you factor in his practice speeds.
Sean Engel’s DraftKings Lineup for Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas
1: Brad Keselowski ($10,400)
2: Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500)
3: Kasey Kahne ($8,400)
4: Ryan Blaney ($7,400)
5: Erik Jones ($7,100)
6: Paul Menard ($6,800)
Top 15 Drivers Overall for Las Vegas – Based on Combination of Projected Performance and Value
1: Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500)
2: Brad Keselowski ($10,400)
3: Kasey Kahne ($8,400)
4: Matt Kenseth ($9,000)
5: Kyle Busch ($10,100)
6: Ryan Blaney ($7,400)
7: Paul Menard ($6,800)
8: Erik Jones ($7,100)
9: Kevin Harvick ($10,700)
10: Ty Dillon ($6,500)
11: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700)
12: Kurt Busch ($8,300)
13: Joey Logano ($10,000)
14: Jimmie Johnson ($10,200)
15: Chase Elliot ($9,700)