DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Las Vegas
The Sprint Cup Series heads west to Sin City for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
According to NASCAR’s Loops Data it will be a banner day for Hendrick Motorsports, as that team has three drivers in the Top 7 in terms of Driver Rating over the past five starts at LVMS. Jimmie Johnson ($10,300), fresh off his victory in Atlanta last week, is second among all active drivers with a 106.5 Driver Rating. He has 180 laps led, more than any other driver, while running 70.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 during the impressive span. The No. 48 will start 11th Sunday, and it will be sooner rather than later that the car carrying the race sponsor titles has the entire field in his rear-view mirror.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,000) leads all drivers with a 110.9 Driver Rating, running inside the Top 15 in 91.3 percent of his laps, leading 125. In addition, he has an Average-Finish Position of 6.2 over the past five stops at LVMS, one of just three drivers averaging better than a Top 10 finish over the stretch. Teammate Kasey Kahne ($8,500) has fared well in Vegas in recent seasons, leading 114 laps while posting a 99.4 Driver Rating with 78.6 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. He is a great mid-tier DFS option with tremendous upside, more so than any other driver at this price level. Kahne goes off eighth in Sunday’s race.
It isn’t just a one-team show. Far from it. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick ($10,500) steered his No. 4 Chevrolet to Victory Lane last season, and he is the favorite at 4/1, according to Vegas oddsmakers. He ranks fourth in Driver Rating at 103.7 over the past five starts at Vegas, leading 169 laps. That’s second only to the No. 48 machine. In addition, Harvick has run inside the Top 15 in nearly 80 percent of his laps, so his have his Chevy at or near the top for a majority of Sunday’s 400-miler.
SHR’s Kurt Busch ($9,200) will be a popular selection, as he set a qualifying record at 196.328 mph en route to his second consecutive start from the pole. The elder Busch has had struggles at his hometown track, posting just one Top 5, and three Top 10s, in 14 career starts while checking in with an AFP of just 22.1. He has led 54 laps in his career at LVMS, and crashed out three times. His highest-ever finish was third. For whatever, whether it is trying to hard, or just old-fashioned bad Vegas luck, Busch has busted out at the Nevada track rather than hitting the jackpot.
His brother Kyle Busch ($10,200) has picked up the pace in recent years after struggling like his older bro earlier in his career. Rowdy has pieced together a 96.4 Driver Rating over the past four outings in Vegas, missing last season’s race due to his leg injury. In his four previous stops he managed to lead 79 total laps, running inside the Top 15 in 64.0 percent of his laps. Overall he has one career checkered flag, five Top 10s and eight Top 20 finishes in 11 starts at the track, posting a respectable 14.4 AFP. He is a much more sound investment than Kurt despite the fact the No. 4 is on the pole.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Carl Edwards ($9,600) is also a Fantasy force at the desert tri-oval, posting an impressive 12.2 AFP in 11 career starts with two wins, five Top 5s and nine Top 20s while never failing to finish. Matt Kenseth ($9,900) is even better, leading all drivers with an 11.4 AFP in 16 career starts, including three celebratory burnouts, six Top 5s and only two finishes outside of the Top 20 while leading a total of 516 laps, more than any other driver past or present. The No. 11 of Denny Hamlin ($9,300) cannot be ignored, either. While he has never won in 10 tries in Vegas, he has finished inside the Top 20 all but once, averaging a 20.7 start but improving to a 12.2 AFP. He goes off ninth Sunday, and you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be matriculating up through the pack and into the Top 5 in rather short order.
Penske Racing’s Joey Logano ($10,000) and Brad Keselowski ($9,700) did extremely well in qualifying and practice, and they go off second and fourth in the starting grid. Logano is worth a spot as one of your top two DFS options, while Kes is one you’ll want to avoid. Logano has never won Vegas, and has just one Top 5, but he has finished inside the Top 20 in all but one of his races, and his worst finish is still a respectable 23rd. His AFP of 12.0 is third-best behind only Kenseth and J.J. Keselowski, well it has been a struggle for the Blue Deuce. He has seven career starts under his belt, and he hit it big with a win in 2014. However, he also has four starts where he has been outside the Top 20.
Lastly, Martin Truex Jr. ($9,100) has a 104.2 Driver Rating over the past five starts at Vegas, third among all drivers while posting a 9.4 AFP. What’s truly remarkable is the fact he leads all Cup drivers running a whopping 97.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 during the span. While he has only led six laps at the track over the past five years, he has 10 career starts and nine finishes inside the Top 20, so he is dependable if nothing else.
ON THE DOWN LOW
Paul Menard ($6,500) is a Fantasy option you’re going to want to roll with as your No. 5 or 6 driver. He checks in 10th in NASCAR’s Loop Data with a 93.2 Driver Rating while running inside the Top 15 in 78.3 percent of his laps turned. In addition, he has an Average-Finish Position of 8.8 over the past five stats, second-best only to Dale Jr. during the span. At this price level he is a low-risk, high-reward, and is the kind of driver who will win GPPs or cash games for you, not the higher-priced talent. He goes off 15th and will be able to gain valuable points in the Place Differential category.
Keep your eye on Austin Dillon ($6,700), too. He goes off fifth in Sunday’s grid, and he looked sharp in practice and qualifying. Dillon has had a measure of success at the track in his brief dealings, posting two Top 20 finishes in three outings. He has never been higher than 16th, but never lower than 21st, so he is a safe play as a No. 5 or 6 driver, especially due to his strong starting position.
Ryan Blaney ($6,600) will be another popular low-priced option due to his favorable starting spot. He is in the 14th starting spot, starting on Row 7 with fellow rookie Chase Elliott ($8,200). Blaney has just one Cup run under his belt at Vegas, posting a 19th-place finish, and he is familiar with the place from his time on the Xfinity Series, too.
Another driver not many are talking about is Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola ($6,800). He has been starting low, and improving his position dramatically. At Daytona, he started 34th, finished 12th. In Atlanta, he started 27th, finished 15th. He has also turned nine fastest laps over the past two weeks, totaling 100 Fantasy points. Despite that success, his salary has dropped for the Vegas race. This week he starts from a favorable position of seventh, and he has a chance to really make some noise while serving as a nice contrarian pick because he doesn’t have the sexy name as the other higher-priced drivers.