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.
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1. Denny Hamlin ($9,600) - Two teams perfected the no practice setup last season: Harvick’s #4 team and Hamlin’s #11 team. Hamlin had the best long run speed at Homestead and ran away with the race.
2. Chase Elliott ($11,000) - Prior to the Homestead race, Elliott recklessly went for the win at Bristol and took out the leader Joey Logano. At Homestead, Logano repaid the favor. Elliott was leading in stage 3, but when he attempted to put Logano two laps down, Logano blocked him. This allowed Hamlin to take the lead for the rest of the race.
3. Tyler Reddick ($8,500) - Everyone knows Tyler Reddick because he’s the driver that fearlessly surfed the wall at Homestead towards two Xfinity championships. He did the exact same thing in a Cup car last year, but before anyone mashes the lock button, check last year’s race notes closely. Reddick blew a tire running against the wall, but was bailed out by the stage one break.
4. Ryan Blaney ($10,400) - He wasn’t fast at every intermediate track, but several times, his crew chief Todd Gordon built a perfect set up for the #12 car. Blaney ran the third most laps inside the top 5, and earned the 4th most fast lap points at Homestead.
5. Martin Truex Jr. ($11,400) - The 2020 Homestead race was supposed to be during the day on a hot slick race track. After multiple red flags, Homestead was a cool, night race. The #19 team flat out missed the setup. In stage one, Truex pitted for 21 seconds, so the team could make major setup changes.
6. William Byron ($9,100) - Erase the 2020 high downforce races where Byron had a mechanical failure or a wreck. His average finish in the other eleven races is 11th place. That will get the job done from his starting position.
7. Kevin Harvick ($10,100) - His 26th place finish at Homestead is due to an early race pit road wreck and a stage 3 flat tire, but he was never going to be in contention. Harvick is reluctant to run up against the wall, and that is the only way to win this race, if it goes green.
8. Brad Keselowski ($9,900) - The #2 Penske car was one of the best cars in the low downforce package last season. In the high downforce package, it did a whole lot of nothing. Homestead was not any different. A bad pit stop hurt Keselowski, but he had nothing for Hamlin and Elliott.
9. Joey Logano ($9,300) - The red flags and short runs in stage one allowed most of the field to stay on the lead lap at Homestead, and during an early race caution, pit road was a messy place. Several cars sustained damage in the traffic on pit lane, and Logano’s damage ruined his chances.
10. Kyle Busch ($11,800) - Early in the Homestead race, Busch hated his car. This was a common theme last year. Busch needs practice to get the setup correct, so the first half of races often served as an extended practice. By the end, Busch finished 6th, but he only ran four laps inside the top 5.
11. Aric Almirola ($7,900) - Homestead was the first of six top 10 finishes in seven high downforce packages for Almirola. His team should have strong notes to build on this season, and a fifth to tenth place finish seems completely reasonable.
12. Kyle Larson ($10,700) - The expectations are too high. Larson was great in low downforce cars at Homestead, but in one high downforce race, he didn’t look quite the same. He looked good before his engine expired in that race, but he did not look great.
13. Alex Bowman ($8,300) - The #88 team missed the setup at Homestead. Bowman was okay for most of the race, but faded during the long run in stage three. If the team can guess correctly with the setup, then this is a track type that plays to Bowman’s strengths.
14. Chase Briscoe ($7,200) - Homestead is a race track where Chase Briscoe should be good. In theory, dirt racers are comfortable running near the wall, but Briscoe never accomplished much at Homestead in the Xfinity Series against strong fields. Last year, every caution was perfectly timed for Briscoe, so it’s hard to get a read on his true ability.
15. Bubba Wallace ($7,000) - Last year, Bubba scored a top 15 finish at Homestead in inferior equipment. This weekend will be the first time that Bubba can show off his new equipment. It might be a breakout weekend.
16. Erik Jones ($6,900) - Ignore his fast laps in last year’s race, those were the product of an unscheduled pit stop and having fresh tires while the rest of the field was on ancient tires. The best point of reference for Jones is the performance of the #43 car in the 2020 Homestead race. Bubba Wallace finished 13th in this car last year.
17. Matt DiBenedetto ($8,800) - Despite suffering significant damage during an early race pit road incident, DiBenedetto rebounded for a 14th place finish at Homestead in 2020. DiBenedetto chalk did not work out last week, but scared money does not make money.
18. Austin Dillon ($7,700) - RCR brought really good cars to several intermediate tracks last season. Austin Dillon’s #3 car was fast enough to overcome a pit road penalty.
19. Ross Chastain ($7,400) - In the Cup Series, Chastain has not shown much other than his ability to wreck. If he can stay off the wall, the #42 CGR car should be good enough for a top 20 finish.
20. Kurt Busch ($8,100) - This is a contrarian play, but it can work. If Kurt maintains track position and scores a handful of fast laps while running up front, then he might be able to sneak into the optimal lineup.
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