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 NextEra Energy 250 slate locks at 7:40 p.m. ET on Friday.
1. Sheldon Creed ($10,600) - In three of his four plate races, Creed has finished 12th or better. His 2020 season opener at Daytona was more on the timid side, he ran around ninth place and finished in ninth. In the second plate race of the season at Talladega, Creed had become a favorite to win the championship and was more aggressive. He recorded the most laps inside the top five.
2. Austin Hill ($10,200) - Since becoming a full-time truck driver, Hill has finished 11th or better in five of his six plate races. He won the season opener at Daytona in 2019. The truck is a winner, and he is a winner. If he avoids the wrecks, then Hill is a favorite to win this race.
3. Grant Enfinger ($9,600) - It’s hard to believe that Grant Enfiger lost his truck ride, but that’s how the financial system of NASCAR works. He was the 2019 regular season points champion and a multiple-race winner in 2020. There is a large chip on his shoulder, and Enfinger wants to prove that he deserves a full-time ride by winning his third plate race.
4. Brett Moffitt ($9,400) - Another year, another team. This will be Moffitt’s third different team in four seasons — it’s not performance based or sponsorship based. Moffitt is running full-time in the Xfinity series. The new team this season is Niece Motorsports. If Natalie Decker can earn a top-five finish at Daytona in a Niece truck, then Moffitt will be fine.
5. Johnny Sauter ($8,200) - The last two seasons have been rough for Sauter, but he’s been fine at the plate tracks. Sauter has four plate race wins, and he almost won the last two races at Talladega.
6. John Hunter Nemechek ($10,400) - Would you rather be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond. Nemechek chose the latter and he’s set to dominate the Truck Series in his KBM equipment. It’s been years since a talented full-time driver was behind the wheel for KBM. William Byron won seven races for KBM in 2016.
7. Chandler Smith ($8,100) - The revolving door at Kyle Busch Motorpsrots is poised to spit out another young driver. Smith looked phenomenal in the ARCA series and in limited truck races in 2019, but 2020 was a disaster. Smith has to turn things around and win multiple races. Plate racing shouldn’t be one of his strengths, but he finished third in his only plate race.
8. Matt Crafton ($10,000) - This is Crafton’s 20th full-time season in the Truck Series. Over the last 20 years, Crafton has recorded zero plate-track wins. There’s a lot of luck involved in plate racing — but after 20 years, if he hasn’t gotten lucky by now, then it’s never going to happen.
9. Zane Smith ($9,100) - In 2019, Zane Smith was a great part-time driver in the Xfinity Series. Last year, he was one of the best drivers in the Truck Series. The only place where Smith struggled was the plate tracks; he wrecked in both races.
10. Raphael Lessard ($7,600) - With his back against the wall last season, Lessard pulled out the victory at Talladega and proved that he belonged. Kyle Busch wasn’t impressed by the plate track win and dumped Lessard. Here we go again. Lessard’s career is on the line. He has the right equipment and he has the right attitude. As a part-time driver, it’s checkers or wreckers for the kid trying to make a name for himself.
11. Tyler Ankrum ($8,600) - By the middle of the 2020 season, everyone in the Truck Series knew that it was Gallagher Motorsports’ world and the rest of us just lived in it. At Talladega, they demonstrated their excellence. Ankrum, Moffit, and Creed spent most of the race inside the top 10.
12. Jordan Anderson ($6,700) - Anything can happen at a plate track. The small teams have a chance. Anderson has a top-10 finish in four of the last six plate races. He almost won at Daytona last season.
13. Parker Kligerman ($7,700) - The Henderson Motorsports truck is decent and Kligerman is an underrated racer. His average finish last season was 16th, which is pretty good considering he always started in the back. Kligerman won the Talladega race in 2017 driving part-time for Henderson Motorsports.
14. Derek Kraus ($7,300) - His plate-racing stats are limited, but they’re good. Kraus tore up the K&N West scene before running full-time in the Truck Series last year. Nothing on the K&N West circuit prepares drivers for plate racing, but Kraus knew what he was doing. He finished fourth at Daytona and 10th at Talladega.
15. Ben Rhodes ($9,800) - Statistically, Rhodes has been average at the restrictor plate tracks, but it’s hard to compare drivers because the sample sizes range from one plate race to ten races over the last five seasons. At the very least, Rhodes is one of the most experienced plate racers in the field.
16. Codie Rohrbaugh ($5,300) - For the casual fan, it’s ro-bah; the middle R is silent. This is important to know because when you are screaming at your TV in ecstasy or agony, you’ll want to make sure you’re saying his name correctly. If the race unfolds anything like last season, then you’ll be screaming Rohrbaugh with pure joy. Last season, he finished third at Daytona and fifth at Talladega.
17. Ryan Truex ($7,500) - Martin’s little brother has been unable to establish himself in stock car racing. It appeared that he had run out of chances, but now he is being given one last chance at Niece Motorsports. The Niece trucks struggled last season, but they were fine at the plate tracks. Truex has two top five finishes in his four truck races at Daytona.
18. Hailie Deegan ($6,400) - There is a lot of hype surrounding Deegan, and she likely won’t live up to the sky-high expectations. The reality is that a DGR-Crosley truck does not have a great chance at the short tracks and intermediate tracks, but at a plate track she has a chance. Last season, she finished second in the ARCA race at Daytona.
19. Stewart Friesen ($8,800) - It’s not over until it’s over. Friesen led 13 laps and was in seventh place with three laps to go in the 2020 Daytona race. When the race was actually over, he finished 21st despite running the fifth-most laps inside the top five.
20. David Gilliland ($9,300) - Other than Sauter, no driver in the field has more plate racing experience and skill than David Gilliland. The question is how aggressive will Gilliland drive? He’s the owner, but he’s not a wealthy fat cat that swims in a pool of gold coins. In his last plate race, he played it safe, but wrecked one lap before the white flag.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.