The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver. Note: fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.
1. Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,000) - In the July race, Truex had the best car. He ran the most fast laps and he led the third most laps on his way to a third place finish. Typically, the best car scores more than 73 fantasy points, but at Kansas diverse pit strategies prevent one car from dominating at this race track. (4.4 fppk)
2. Denny Hamlin ($10,600) - All of the lead changes in the July race were the direct result of pit road decisions. Hamlin took the lead on pit road during the Stage 1 and Stage 2 breaks. He regained the lead for the final 12 laps because the cars in front of him were on older tires. (4.9 fppk)
3. Kevin Harvick ($10,400) - Kansas was a bad race for Harvick. He started on the pole, but did not lead a lap until lap 246, and that was because the cars in front of him were on old tires. Nine laps later, Hamlin easily disposed of Harvick. (5.6 fppk)
4. Brad Keselowski ($10,100) - Intermediate tracks have not been great for Keselowski over the last 15 months, but Kansas was an exception. He was great on restarts and he was able to aggressively defend the lead on older tires. (4.5 fppk)
5. Ryan Blaney ($9,700) - The No. 12 car tends to be pretty fast at the intermediate tracks, but this car also tends to have terrible luck. Blaney scored nine fast lap points in the July race, but contact led to an unscheduled pit stop in Stage 3, and he finished off of the lead lap. (4.1 fppk)
6. Chase Elliott ($11,200) - At the beginning of Stage 3 at Kansas, Elliott took two tires and vaulted to the front row. This looked like another typical Elliott race where he does nothing all race, but once in clean air, he’s unstoppable. However, that did not play out. From the non-preferred groove, Elliott was forced to block a dive bomb, and then was side drafted by another driver, and he faded back into irrelevance. (4.3 fppk)
7. Ryan Newman ($6,500) - When Newman starts outside of the top 25, it’s tough to fade him. This hasn’t been a great year for Newman; he nearly died at one point, but he’s still that steady 15th place driver. Newman has finished 15th in the last two intermediate track races. (3.4 fppk)
8. Joey Logano ($9,500) - Before his Stage 3 wreck, Logano was a non-factor in this race. Whatever magic he had earlier this season has disappeared. Logano looked good early in the last intermediate track race at Las Vegas, but an incident kept him off of the lead lap for most of the race. (3.7 fppk)
9. Kyle Busch ($9,900) - After the competition caution, Busch lined up in second place and got a great push. He then cruised to a stage victory. It was impossible to pass the leader at Kansas unless the leader was at a tire disadvantage. When Busch lost the lead, he faded, and made contact with the wall in Stage 3. (3.1 fppk)
10. Erik Jones ($8,400) - In the July race, he quickly guided his JGR car into the top 10. He spent most of the race hanging around the back half of the top 10. On the final run, with several cars hitting the wall and others on old tires, Jones was able to secure an easy fifth place finish. (4.1 fppk)
11. William Byron ($9,000) - At the end of Stage 1, Byron was the last car on the lead lap. He just barely crossed the finish line before getting lapped. In Stage 3, Byron gambled on pit road, and the caution fell at exactly the right time. Byron had a 15th place car, but through luck and strategy led 27 laps in Stage 3. (3.7 fppk)
12. Alex Bowman ($8,600) - His Kansas finish was better than what the car deserved, but not much better. An eighth place finish in a 40 car field isn’t that great of an accomplishment. If a Hendrick car does not make mistakes on pit road or wreck, it should earn a top 10 every week. (3.7 fppk)
13. Jimmie Johnson ($9,200) - Kansas was not a good race for Hendrick. Byron got lucky for a moment, but eventually the race normalized. Johnson had the worst finish of all of the Hendrick cars, but that was because he was caught in a wreck on lap 176. He was running in 13th position at the time. (3.6 fppk)
14. Kurt Busch ($8,200) - A win is a win, so Kurt Busch deserves credit for winning at Las Vegas. As far as analytics go, Busch’s win is meaningless if not a distraction. Busch got lucky, and a debris caution was called during pit cycling. He took the lead, and there weren’t enough green flag laps left for the dominant cars to chase him down. (3.8 fppk)
15. Aric Almirola ($8,000) - SHR cars should earn top-10 finishes. Almirola is starting 16th, and if he finishes sixth just like he did in July, then that’s 50 points. Throw in some fast lap points, and he squeezes into the optimal lineup. (4.2 fppk)
16. Tyler Reddick ($7,800) - Kansas is a progressive banked track. Some drivers can find speed up next to the wall, but most do not dare take that chance. Several years ago, Larson found speed on the wall, and in the July race Reddick rode the wall all race long. This is how he made a name for himself. If there are long green flag runs in this race, then Reddick could come away with a top-5 finish. (4.5 fppk)
17. Clint Bowyer ($8,800) - Kansas is the reason he is calling it quits. This is Bowyer’s home track, but he’s always struggled at the intermediate tracks. With the new high downforce package, his struggles worsened and Bowyer made the correct move to abandon a form of racing that’s not even racing. (3.8 fppk)
18. John Hunter Nemechek ($6,100) - This is not for the faint of heart, but it’s not really that scary. JHN pulled a classic Neme-wreck in the last intermediate track race at Las Vegas. This is when he brings out a caution, but benefits from the caution. He ended up finishing 20th at Las Vegas. A result like that would be optimal this weekend. (4.1 fppk)
19. Austin Dillon ($7,500) - He flamed out in the playoffs, but at least he made it to the second round. His poor performance in the second round wasn’t his fault. A mechanical failure at Las Vegas ruined his chances. Dillon has 10 top-15 finishes in his last 15 races. (4.3 fppk)
20. Christopher Bell ($7,200) - This has been an up and down season for Bell, but mostly down. Bell’s last top-20 finish at a mile and a half track was at Kentucky in early July. He finished seventh in that race, but that track is nothing like Kansas. In the July Kansas race, Bell wrecked in Stage 3 while running in the 10th position. (3.4 fppk)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.