The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
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1. Kyle Larson ($11,700) — Last week was Larson’s third 550 package win of the season (not counting the All-Star Race), but it should have been his fifth. Restart madness cost him the win in the first Kansas race and poor pit strategy gave away the win in the fall Las Vegas race. Fade him at your own peril.
2. William Byron ($9,500) — The Best Bets article had William Byron as the second-best pick to win behind Kyle Larson last week. Sure enough, Byron finished second to Larson and ran in second for nearly the entire race. Crew chief Rudy Fugle has done an excellent job setting up high downforce cars this season, but this shouldn’t be a surprise after setting up high downforce trucks for years.
3. Denny Hamlin ($11,000) — When Kyle Larson does not win, Hamlin is usually the next in line. He nearly won the first Kansas race, but he wrecked late as he was passed by Kyle Larson. At Las Vegas several weeks ago, Larson blew the race by running long in stage 2 and Hamlin stepped up and secured the bag.
4. Kyle Busch ($10,700) — He won the first Kansas race. It was a lucky win, but Kyle Busch had a fast car and got everything out of his car. When Kyle Larson got taken out during the series of restarts at the end, Kyle Busch gladly accepted the trophy.
5. Ryan Blaney ($9,300) — Similar to the Hendrick cars, Blaney got trapped a lap down in stage 2 at Las Vegas. He took the wave around and was able to race his way through the field during the long green flag runs and finished fifth. In the first Kansas race, he was the driver that wrecked Kyle Larson while battling for the lead on the final restart.
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6. Brad Keselowski ($9,100) — No one is beating Kyle Larson straight up, but they might not have to outrace the eight-time race winner. This is NASCAR, and it’s NASCAR in the 550 package. There’s at least a 50% chance that this race will end with a series of cautions, and Keselowski has been fast enough in this package to make a push at the end. He nearly won last week and in the first Kansas race.
7. Chase Elliott ($10,000) — At Las Vegas, Elliott was able to overcome terrible pit strategy in stage 2 and run down the leader at the end of the race. He wasn’t able to pass Hamlin, but he had a fast car. Aside from the road courses, Elliott’s other strength this season has been the 550 package.
8. Kevin Harvick ($8,900) — In dirty air, Harvick was terrible last week at a track that he had owned previously. After the major wreck in stage 1 took out several contenders, Harvick made his way to the front and stuck around for the rest of the race, but there are still major concerns surrounding this driver and this team.
9. Martin Truex Jr ($10,400) — In the first 550 package race of the season at Homestead, Truex earned 22 hog points (fast laps and laps led points). Since that race, he has not earned more than 10 hog points in the other seven 550 package races.
10. Tyler Reddick ($8,400) — At Las Vegas, Reddick ran the third-most laps inside the top 10 and sixth-most laps inside the top 5. At Kansas, Reddick ran the ninth-most laps inside the top 10 and eighth-most laps inside the top 5.
11. Christopher Bell ($8,000) — Oklahoma is his home state, so is Texas his home track or Kansas? Last week, Bell finished third at Texas. In the first Kansas race, Bell was running inside the top 10 late in the race until restart madness took him out at the end.
12. Joey Logano ($8,700) — The No. 22 Penske Ford has been very disappointing in the 550 package this season. The car is not terrible, but by Joey Logano’s standards, it has been. The car has been around a 10th place car, but it’s been finishing around 20th at the intermediate tracks.
13. Matt DiBenedetto ($6,800) — If NASCAR can control itself, then DiBenedetto will be lucky to finish inside the top 15, but we know better. NASCAR has an itchy caution finger, especially in stage 3. When the dust settled after the late race restarts in the first Kansas race, DiBenedetto finished fourth.
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($7,000) — It’s not surprising to see Stenhouse wreck, but it is surprising to see him wreck when it’s not his fault. Stenhouse could have been a top-15 driver last week at Texas, but we’ll never know because Bubba Wallace took out half of the field in stage 1.
15. Alex Bowman ($9,800) — There is a reason why Bowman is starting 25th. This hasn’t been his year, but he’s still driving a Hendrick Chevy and his talent did not disappear overnight. However, with this price tag, he’ll need to suddenly find what he’s been missing and earn a top-5 finish.
16. Chris Buescher ($6,300) — “You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.” Buescher is starting outside of the top 20 and he’s priced under $7,000. He’s been a top-15 driver in the 550 package this season.
17. Kurt Busch ($8,500) — It’s not impossible for Kurt to win or to earn a top-5 finish, but CGR has not been building great 550 package cars this season. When they have been successful, it was at worn-out race tracks where equipment didn’t matter as much as skill. Kansas is not that worn out.
18. Ryan Newman ($7,300) — Let’s try this again. Newman is starting in the back and has a legit shot at a 15th place finish, and at the very least a top-20 finish. That is if he’s not collected in a massive restart wreck following the competition caution.
19. Bubba Wallace ($7,400) — Forget about his win at Talladega or his second place finish at Daytona, and forget about the wreck last week, too. Let’s look at the recent and more typical outcomes for Wallace. He finished 14th at the Roval, 16th at Las Vegas and 16th at Bristol — those will work.
20. Ryan Preece ($5,700) — If restart madness occurs — when restart madness occurs — and Preece does not lose his mind, then a top-20 finish is within reach. Preece will likely lose a lap at some point, but when cars start wrecking out and lucky dogs are being handed out, Preece could land in the optimal lineup.
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