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 the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race slate locks at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
1. Austin Cindric ($11,000) — It’s hard to pick anyone else on Saturday night. Cindric’s talent can always be debated, but not in comparison to his inferior competition in inferior equipment. More importantly, Cindric has won the last two races at Phoenix
2. John Hunter Nemechek ($10,800) — There is one scenario where this race is not won by the Championship Four: Nemechek wins. Not only is Nemechek fired up (Texas Xfinity Series win and Martinsville Truck Series wreck), but the No. 54 JGR Toyota is racing for the Owner Championship. Also, JHN will get a ton of Phoenix reps running in the Truck race and both practices.
3. Justin Allgaier ($10,600) — Every year is supposed to be Allgaier’s year. The Xfinity competition gets weaker every season, but Allgaier gets weaker with it. This series is more watered-down than the Vodka in your parents’ liquor cabinet. Phoenix is one of Allgaier’s best tracks, but he is respectful of this series and will not battle with the championship contenders.
4. Noah Gragson ($10,400) — It’s true that Gragson is a silver spoon kid that’s been given the best equipment during his career and often has acted like a spoiled brat. However, he has become more humble, and has matured over the last year and a half, but most important of all, he wins races. When he needs to step up, he steps up.
5. Daniel Hemric ($10,000) — Martinsville might have been the worst choke job of his career. After moments like that, it’s easy to imagine Hemric’s career winless streak extending from 200 races to 300 races. That is if some poor sucker is willing to hire this fraud.
6. AJ Allmendinger ($10,200) — Phoenix should be a good track for Allmendinger because it’s a flat track. His stats in lackluster equipment at Phoenix in the Cup Series are not bad, and would lead one to believe that he could win this race in a Kaulig car. There is just one problem: the PJ1/resin. The racing has completely changed at Phoenix — not for the better — and Allmendinger struggled with the new groove.
7. Harrison Burton ($9,700) — The No. 20 JGR Toyota will be doing what it’s always doing — just out there turning laps. Burton’s time with JGR is done. They don’t want him to ruin a car or ruin anyone else’s race, so Burton should be even more passive and irrelevant than usual.
8. Sam Mayer ($8,600) — For about 20% of every race, Mayer looks great. After 17 races, Mayer seems to have figured it out the other 80%. He earned his best finish of the season at Martinsville with a fourth place finish and that followed an eighth place finish at Texas.
9. Brandon Jones ($9,300) — In the spring of 2020, Brandon Jones passed Kyle Busch on a long run and shocked the world with a win at Phoenix. Before getting wrecked, Jones had a race winning car in the spring 2021 Phoenix race.
10. Riley Herbst ($7,800) — What could have been if Riley Herbst were allowed to practice? He nearly won the Fontana 2020 race, then NASCAR shutdown and opened back up without practice. The young driver never stood a chance.
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11. Ryan Vargas ($4,500) — A JD Motorsports car is never a minimum priced car. I haven’t played iRacing in over a year, and I wouldn’t deserve the minimum price at DraftKings in a JD car. As long as Vargas doesn’t qualify inside the top 15, he’ll be a popular punt.
12. Joe Graf, Jr. ($4,900) — He was optimal last week after being terrible in his previous races at Martinsville, so there is hope that he can do it again. Maybe it’s a reward or a demotion, but he’ll be in the No. 17 Rick Ware car this weekend — we’ll find out soon enough.
13. Kyle Sieg ($5,100) — His first race with his brother/father’s Xfinity operation did not end well (wreck at Dover). It would feel a lot better if Sieg were pulling double duty between the ARCA and Xfinity Series, but maybe that’s what hurt him at Dover. All he has to do is keep the car off of the wall and away from the other cars.
14. Landon Cassill ($6,100) — This price is way too low based on the driver’s talent and this price is too low based on his JD Motorsports car. There’s a reason his average salary this season is $6,700, and he is coming off a 12th place finish at Martinsville. He should cost at least $6,700.
15. Sage Karam ($7,200) — The Jordan Anderson No. 31 car won’t be starting in its customary spot in the back, so Karam has not been saddled with a heavy price tag. Karam ran well at the Roval (10th best driver rating), but finished in 20th. However, he was exceptional in his first oval Xfinity race, finishing 16th at Bristol.
16. Brandon Brown ($7,300) — The Internet Meme finished third at Phoenix in the spring. Rest assured, if he earns another improbable top-5 finish, NBC reporters will not be rushing to interview him after the race. Even before the wild caution filled finish in the spring race, Brown looked good — eighth best driver rating.
17. Sheldon Creed ($8,000) — If this is a normal BJ McLeod clown car, then this price tag is way too expensive. It doesn’t seem that McLeod has any deals in place with Creed’s future employer, RCR. The BJ McLeod cars were breaking down all over the place in the spring race at Phoenix. Practice will answer this question on Friday.
18. JJ Yeley ($6,200) — Phoenix is Yeley’s home track and aside from some start and parks and a mechanical failure, he’s been decent in the desert. He finished 13th at Phoenix in the spring race.
19. David Starr ($4,800) — Without a starting grid to lean on, DraftKings has dropped the ball a little with pricing. They’re hedging with Starr’s price and are clearly trying to keep as many drivers in the player pool that they can. As bad as a Carl Long car can be, they’re better than this price.
20. Dylan Lupton ($6,800) — This is the week to buy low on Dylan Lupton. He’s destroyed DFS lineups as he has destroyed real life cars over the last month. Does he have any talent left? Is his Sam Hunt Racing car held together by Bondo? We will find out in practice.
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