DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Cheez-It 355
The Sprint Cup Series moves to Watkins Glen International for the Cheez-It 355, the second and final road course stop of the season. Some drivers and fans love the road course, other detest it. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Carl Edwards ($9,700) is one of those drivers who is extremely comfortable on the road course, posting an 8.36 Average Finish Position (AFP) in 11 career starts, best of any active driver with at least three starts at the track. While he has never won and has led just four laps in those 11 starts, he has eight Top 10s. Starting at the top of the grid is likely to mean another Top 10.
Teammate Kyle Busch ($10,100) has won twice at the track in 11 starts, posting nine Top 10 finishes with a 10.5 AFP. Over the past five starts at Watkins Glen he leads all drivers with a 119.2 Driver Rating while running an impressive 84.2 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He has also led 124 laps over the five-race span, nearly double the amount of the next best driver in the category. The No. 18 will start from the fifth position, and Busch is a threat to win his second race at The Glen in the past four seasons.
JGR’s Matt Kenseth ($8,100) and Denny Hamlin ($8,400) are DFS studs, too, as they each start in the top six. Kenseth has never won this race in 16 career tries, but he has a 14.4 AFP with six Top 10s and 12 Top 20s. Hamlin hasn’t been as prolific as his JGR teammates, but he has four Top 10s in 10 starts at the track. Going off in the No. 6 spot is good for Hamlin, as he should turn in a Top 10. At this mid-tier price level he is a good buy, as is Kenseth at a slightly lesser price tag while starting fourth.
It’s certainly not an all-JGR event. Penske Racing’s Joey Logano ($9,500) steered his No. 22 machine to Victory Lane season, showing his versatility on the road course. He has led just one lap, the final one in 2015, at Watkins Glen in seven career starts while posting a 14.3 AFP. He didn’t do so hot in first try or two at Watkins Glen, but he looks totally comfortable now and the defending champ is a threat to win starting from the Lucky No. 7 position.
Sliced Bread’s teammate, Brad Keselowski ($9,300), is a nice value. He is second with a 108.6 Driver Rating over the past five starts, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, running an impressive 81.6 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He also has 66 laps led at the track, second-best in the span among all drivers. With four Top 10s in six career starts and an 11.3 AFP, he is a stud DFS option at this salary. He will start 12th Sunday.
Another driver who is certain to have plenty of exposure in DFS is road-course specialist A.J. Allmendinger ($9,900), who won the 2014 race at The Glen. He ranks third in Driver Rating at 106.0 over the past four starts, running 71.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He struggled with a 14th-place finish at Sonoma earlier this season, but don’t expect that to happen again. At The Glen he has a 10.1 AFP in seven races, winning once while posting four Top 10s. He is a stud at this track and a great driver to build a lineup around.
Kyle Larson ($8,200) is a slam-dunk play at this price level, as he has finishes of fourth and 12th in two starts at The Glen. His comfort level is high at the road course, and he qualified well. He will go off from the second position. Expect another Top 15 performance, if not much, much better. At this price level he is going to be a popular pick, especially after his dominating qualifying effort.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Tony Stewart ($9,100) won on the road course at Sonoma earlier this season, positioning himself well for a run at the championship in his swan song season. He has always been special on the road courses, and he has five wins in 15 starts at Watkins Glen. He also owns a 10.3 AFP with seven Top 5s and 10 Top 10s. The veteran is a must-have in DFS, especially at a much cheaper price tag than some of the others on the board. He starts from the third position.
Jeff Gordon ($8,600) starts his third straight race in place of the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion). The ‘Rainbow Warrior’ has averaged a 20.0 AFP in two races in the No. 88 machine, but that number should improve dramatically at The Glen. He has won four times at the track in 23 tries, posting a 17.7 AFP while leading 262 laps. While a lot of his success at the road course came in the early part of his career, as a mid-level play he is a good choice.
Lately, Martin Truex Jr. ($8,900) has shown his chops on the road course, and he ranks fourth in Driver Rating over the past five starts with a 99.6 Driver Rating. He has led just five laps during the span, but run 74.0 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Half of his 10 career starts at Watkins Glen have resulted in Top 10 finishes. He starts 14th, so he could pick up plenty of Place Differential points if he hits his recent averages.
ON THE DOWN LOW
As far as the lower-priced options are concerned, there is plenty of good picks for a high-low DFS lineup strategy.
Among the lower-priced options, Jamie McMurray ($7,900) is a good selection. He hasn’t won in 13 tries at The Glen, but he has a 20.6 AFP with eight Top 20s. He was solid in qualifying, and will start 10th. Casey Mears ($6,600) is another cheap option sure to garner plenty of attention. He has an 18.7 AFP in 12 career tries at the New York state road course while posting nine Top 20 finishes. He starts 20th Sunday, and is likely to grab a few Place Differential points.
SHR’s Danica Patrick ($6,100) has struggled at plenty of tracks, but surprisingly Watkins Glen has been one of his best. In three tries she is 17th, 20th and 21st at the road course, and she is a slam-dunk play at this low price if she can replicate those kind of results. HScott Motorsports driver Clint Bowyer ($7,800) has struggled in his lame-duck season before moving to SHR, but he could turn things around the The Glen. According to NASCAR’s Loop Data, he ranks eighth in Driver Rating at 93.6 over the past five starts, and he has four Top 10s with seven Top 20s in 10 career starts at the track.
Road-course ringer Alex Kennedy ($4,600) might also be a popular choice, if only because of his low, low salary. Picking him will allow you to load up at most of your other starting spots. He starts 36th. Boris Said ($5,900) makes his first Sprint Cup Series start of the season in the Genesee Beer No. 32 Ford. The road-course specialist is another decent option if you’re looking to save salary at the bottom of your lineup.