DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Quaker State 400
The Sprint Cup Series heads to Sparta, Kentucky for the Quaker State 400, the only stop of the season at the Kentucky Speedway. Hopefully the rain doesn’t cause Saturday’s race to suffer a lengthy delay like we had last weekend at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, but if this week is any indication we might be in for some trouble.
The rains have wreaked havoc in Kentucky this week, and the weather caused NASCAR to cancel qualifying in order to give teams more practice time heading into Saturday night. That was terrible news for Ryan Blaney ($7,500), Travis Kvapil and Michael McDowell ($7,200), who did not get a chance to work their way into the field.
Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski ($12,100) picked up the victory Friday in the Xfinity Series race, showing off his dominance at this stop. The Sprint Cup Series has raced four times at this track, and the Blue Deuce has been to Victory Lane in two of those races. NASCAR’s Loop Data shows Keselowski has led 345 laps at Kentucky, most of any active drive, while he has managed to stay in the Top 15 in 78.7 percent of his laps. After a strong practice session, Keselowski will go off second for Saturday’s night race starting next to pole sitter Kyle Larson ($9,800).
Larson was knocked out of last season’s race, stumbling to a 40th-place finish after a strong qualifying effort. Larson had been humming along rather nicely until being collected in a big one last week, picking up four straight Top 20s and two Top 10s before Daytona. He starts on the pole and could easily add to his Top 10 finish total. Look for plenty of DFS points via laps led (0.25 points each) and fastest laps (0.5 points each).
Larson also has the first pit stall thanks to qualifying, and therefore he will not have anyone in front of him to get in the way and slow him down. In addition, two of the four races at Kentucky have been won by the pole sitter, including one time when the starting lineup was set by owners points thanks to inclement weather. Perhaps lightning, pun totally intended, can strike twice for Larson and the No. 42 team. At a mid-level DFS salary he is going to be a popular selection.
It could be a giant night for Joe Gibbs Racing, as Kyle Busch ($10,800) and Matt Kenseth ($11,300) lead all drivers with a 4.5 Average-Finish Position (AFP). In fact, both drivers have finished inside the Top 10 in all four races at Kentucky, tying Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson ($13,100) and Jeff Gordon ($10,600). Rowdy has stayed inside the Top 15 in a whopping 93.9 percent of his laps at Kentucky, leading all drivers with a ridiculous 124.3 Driver Rating. Regardless of DFS format, Busch should be your top target followed by Keselowski.
J.J. and Gordon aren’t the only Hendrick DFS studs, either. Kasey Kahne ($10,500) checks in fifth in Driver Rating at 98.9, starting on average at the 16th spot, but working his way into an 8.5 AFP. Kahne has quietly had a strong season, posting seven Top 10s in 18 starts. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($11,500) is coming off a win at Kentucky, posting finishes of seventh or better in three straight outings. In fact, he has been 14th or better in 10 straight races, and the fact he has posted as 12.8 AFP in four runs at Kentucky means he’ll likely be 14th or better yet again. Earnhardt will start 10th, and could work his way up to earn value DFS points thanks to passing. Little E was eighth in Friday’s Xfinity Series race.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch ($12,200) has a big price tag, but is also one to watch in Sparta. He starts in the lucky 13th spot, and could work his way up nicely. He ranks eighth among all drivers with a 11.5 AFP, one of nine active drivers to finish inside the Top 20 in each of his stops at Kentucky. Teammate Kevin Harvick ($13,900) has an even higher price tag, but with an 11.0 AFP in four starts he will be a popular pick in cash games. Harvick has actually never led in four starts at Kentucky, but he has run inside the Top 15 in 82.8 percent of his laps there. His Driver Rating of 95.2 ranks seventh among all drivers at the Kentucky stop.
Carl Edwards ($10,400) will run in the No. 19 Toyota with the Minions paint scheme, which will be very popular with the kids. He’ll be popular with DFS players, too, as he has a 15.8 AFP with three Top 20s, and his lowest finish at the track is 21st. There is plenty of like about Cousin Carl for DFS purposes, and not just because of his pop culture paint scheme.
Clint Bowyer ($8,600) will start 30th, and he is in need of a strong finish if he wants to remain in the Chase picture. He has been average at Kentucky in four career starts, posting one Top 5 with two Top 20s, but he also crashed once out to finish 35th. Despite the erratic results, look for Bowyer to be a solid DFS option to help out in both pass and place differential. He’ll work his way up through the field for some big points.
Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola ($7,900) is an outstanding DFS value at this price level, and you’ll want him if you’re playing in a Guaranteed Prize Pool tournament. He had a decent practice session, working his way up to the 12th spot in the starting order. He has three runs at Kentucky under his belt, posting on Top 20, but also posting a DNF. Still, don’t put too much stock into his past performance, and look to his recent outings. He has been a beast in pass differential over the past two races.
Paul Menard ($8,800) will start 14th, looking to build upon his solid sixth-place showing in Friday’s Xfinity Series run. Menard has an AFP of 20.3, and his best finish is 12th. He has three straight finished of 16th or better, and 18th or better in nine of his past 10. Menard is a sharp mid-level DFS play who has a very good chance of a Top 10 finish in Kentucky.
If you’re looking for a deep sleeper, how about Cole Whitt ($7,100) in the Kentucky Fried Chicken No. 35 Ford? Whitt finished 25th at Daytona last weekend, running two fastest laps, but he killed DFS owners in pass differential with a minus-33. Still, Whitt has managed has been 28th or better in six of his past seven outings. He was 28th in his only career start at Kentucky, too. The numbers by Whitt won’t bowl you over, but he comes with a near-minimal DFS salary, and will help you to afford plenty of studs up top.
Brett Moffitt ($6,900) also comes with a DFS minimum price, but there is a lot to like about him. He has just one Top 10 in 14 starts this season, but he starts 38th and should work his way up a few spots to gain DFS points thanks to place differential.