DraftKings Nascar Preview: Joe Gibbs Racing will continue to roll at New Hampshire
By Scott Engel
This week’s DFS NASCAR event will be held at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, site of the 23rd annual 5-Hour Energy 301. With over 300 laps in the event and not a heavy amount of passing expected, there will be a high emphasis on the laps led and fastest laps categories. So, starting track position is essential in many cases.
Predicting a winner at the site won’t be easy, as there have been 24 different winners in 40 races at NHMS since 1993, including 11 in the last 11. A total of 33 races have been recorded with electronic scoring, and in 17 of them, the margin of victory is less than a second. If recent history and momentum from this year are clear indicators, though, Kyle Busch will be a very strong contender after his win at Kentucky last week.
Kyle Busch is the fifth-highest driver on DraftKings at $11,800, and he can anchor your lineup as a featured selection from Joe Gibbs Racing, a team that can really continue to boost your DFS fortunes this week. He has double-digit laps led figures in four of the past six races at Loudon, and he has finished second in three of the past four races at the site. He ran fourth in the final practice session with the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average, a good practice stat to gauge possible success for the race itself. He starts fourth and should challenge for a top spot right away.
Carl Edwards may be the best value in the field at $10,200 this week, and can easily be combined with Kyle Busch in your lineup because of the salary structure. Edwards took the pole and finished first in the final practice with the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. He is coming off a fourth-place finish at Kentucky and he has 158 laps led at NHMS. His past history at Roush Racing at Loudon was just respectable, but he has really started to thrive at JGR and should run up front for awhile.
Denny Hamlin is the other JGR driver to strongly consider at $11,100, as he has often dominated at Loudon. In 18 career races at the site, he has 11 Top 10s, seven Top 5s and a pair of wins. He finished in the Top 4 in both races at NHMS last year and was fifth in the final practice with the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. His Driver Rating of 103.2 is third-best among all active competitors.
At $11,200, Matt Kenseth is another JGR standout to consider, as he did lead for 106 laps in a 2013 win at Loudon, but the other Gibbs drivers just seem to have more momentum right now. If you’re going to spend outside the JGR group, the pair of superstars from Stewart-Haas Racing are worth their prices. Kevin Harvick looked to have a very fast car in practices and could offer the most attractive upside in terms of pass and place differential, as he starts 12th. However, he is also the most expensive driver at a very hefty $14,200 and may only deserve consideration if you are going multi-entry in a GPP and don’t mind one of your lineups having less balance. Kurt Busch is much friendlier at $11,600 and has similar equipment, plus he is having a terrific overall season. He has 187 of the Fastest Laps run at NHMS, second-best among all drivers during the electronic scoring era.
Tony Stewart has not been doing as well as his two standout drivers at SHR, but is drawing some interest this week because he has won three times at Loudon and finished seventh in this event last year. His disappointing season has led to a $8,800 price tag this week. But Stewart starts 25th and doesn’t offer much promise to move up in the field; he is strictly a tournament play if you are feeling daring and running out multiple entries.
David Ragan starts third and has run well in practices and is just $7,800. He may be a widely owned pick this week, but does come with some significant risk. He simply doesn’t have the equipment and talent to hang with some of the better drivers for a healthy portion of the race and could drop a few spots or more in the field very quickly. Ryan Blaney is 300 dollars less and starts 16th. He has shown well in practices to the point where he should be able to hang in the Top 15 to 20 range for much of the event. He was third-fastest in the final practice session and appears to be the best pick among the lower cost drivers to give you a quality finish while not losing much at all in place differential.
Kyle Larson is $10,000 and starts right behind Blaney, and he does offer a lot of potential to move up at a track where he could be a difference-maker in DFS this week. He finished second and third at NHMS last year as a rookie, and led 14 laps and had 14 of the Fastest Laps Run. He was eighth in the final practice and was fastest in an earlier session and should at least push his way into the Top 10.
Brad Keselowski is at $12,800 and is the defending champion of this week’s event, having led 138 laps at NHMS last July. But after he had a great history at Kentucky and could not pull off the win last week, I’m not quite as high on him as some of Gibbs’ guys. Jimmie Johnson ($12,700) ranks fourth in DR at Loudon and has five Top 10s in his past six Loudon races. Jamie McMurray ($9,800) could move up some from 11th and Ryan Newman ($9,200) offers some place differential possibilities as he starts 26th. Aric Almirola ($7,700) had a sixth-place finish at NHMS last year and should move up from 29th. Justin Allgaier is at $7,400 and may not hurt you as he hangs near his starting position of 30th. Landon Cassill ($7,300 ) starts 13th but is due to fall fast. Michael Annett ($6,800) and Cole Whitt ($6,700) are better punt options, and I am slightly leaning to the latter.
Sean Engel (@seanman247 on Twitter) contributed to this preview.