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 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube slate locks at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Denny Hamlin ($9,200) - A penalty sent Hamlin to the back at the start of the spring race where JGR typically struggles. The fall race was different; Hamlin had complete control of the race, and almost overcame a caution at the absolute worst time, but still finished 3rd.
2. Chase Elliott ($10,600) - He had the best car in the spring, but a busted valve stem ended his day. His car was the second fastest at Las Vegas in the fall, but after the horribly timed cautions, he lined up in 9th place for the OT restart. Elliott went high and no one went with him, and he finished outside of the top 20.
3. Joey Logano ($10,000) - The first high downforce 1.5 mile track race in 2020 (Las Vegas) was a win for Logano and the second to last 1.5 mile track race (Kansas) was a win. He wasn’t great in between, and he wasn’t the best in either of those races.
4. Ryan Blaney ($10,800) - Homestead was great for Blaney last year, but that was a night race with a lot of grip. This year, the Homestead race was during the day and the hot, worn out surface did not suit Blaney. Las Vegas is not a worn out race track and the temperature should be cooler than last week.
5. Kevin Harvick ($9,700) - In the spring daytime race, Harvick had a top 3 car. In the day-night race in the fall, in his words, he was terrible. Harvick said that his team was 50-50 in guessing the setup at the lower grip race tracks last season (note: most drivers disagree with Las Vegas being considering a low grip track).
6. William Byron ($8,300) - Dive deep in the weeds. Byron earned 18 fast laps points in the 2020 spring Las Vegas race. This was not due to a tire advantage. Byron wasn’t even leading. He was earning these points running in the backend of the top 10. There is some speed here.
7. Martin Truex Jr ($11,100) - Through the first two stages of the spring race, Truex’s average running position was 2.8. A penalty during the stage three break buried Truex in the field, and he suffered damage on a restart. In the fall, Truex had a top 3 car, but was missing that little bit of extra speed in order to lead.
8. Kyle Larson ($9,400) - The Hendrick cars were strong at Las Vegas last season. They didn’t get the results that they deserved, but they were the best team over the course of the race. In Larson’s return to intermediate track racing last week, he didn’t look like he missed a beat.
9. Alex Bowman ($8,800) - The #88 car came to life late in the first Las Vegas race and nearly ran down the leader. In the fall race, Bowman had a top 3 car in stage three, and cycled ahead of the leader before a poorly timed caution changed the entire complexion of the race.
10. Brad Keselowski ($10,300) - The list of top intermediate track drivers in 2020 should include Brad Keselowski. His low downforce cars were better than his high downforce cars, but he still topped 10 hog points in six high downforce races and earned six top 5 finishes last season.
11. Cole Custer ($6,500) - With two laps remaining in the Homestead race, Custer was in 8th place. He cut a tire and finished 23rd. The #41 SHR team nailed the setup for stage three. Why can’t they nail the stage three setup again this week?
12. Chris Buescher ($6,400) - Why is Buescher this cheap? He was in the optimal lineup last week. Sure, his car struggled in stage three, but the team nailed the setup for half of the race. Typically, a $6000 driver’s team misses the setup for the entire race.
13. Kyle Busch ($11,400) - Here is how this will go. Busch hates the car for the first three stages, and then it’s close half way through stage three. That happened last week; that happened last year at Las Vegas.
14. Kurt Busch ($8,100) - It took Busch two decades to do it, but he finally won at his hometown track in Las Vegas last year. He needed a perfectly timed caution, a racing package that prevents passing, and a pack of cars blocking fast cars to do it, but he did it.
15. Erik Jones ($7,100) - The fears about his RPM equipment became real at Homestead. Jones ran one lap inside the top 20 last week. Homestead is a terrible track for Jones, and it was smart to avoid him in DFS, but was his poor performance track based or equipment based?
16. Aric Almirola ($8,600) - Last week’s wreck heavily influences Almirola’s starting position. He’s better than a 28th place car, but before the wreck, Almirola was not having a great race. He struggled in stage one, but climbed to 10th in stage two. In stage three he was stuck in the teens before he wrecked.
17. Matt DiBenedetto ($9,000) - Who is a glutton for punishment? This week will be the fourth week where DiBenedetto starts near the back and is popular in DFS. Will this be the fourth week that he fails? He finished second in both Las Vegas races last year, but both of those finishes were directly the result of cautions happening at the perfect time for DiBenedetto.
18. Tyler Reddick ($7,900) - There is a high groove at Las Vegas, but it’s not comparable to Homestead. His fall Las Vegas race was eventful. He had a loose wheel in stage one. Clint Bowyer drove him into the wall in stage two. After a green flag pit stop from the Bowyer damage, Reddick drove himself into the wall.
19. Ryan Newman ($6,700) - He was optimal once last season. He’s already been optimal once this season. NASCAR implemented a one year parts development freeze, but due to COVID-19, NASCAR has extended that parts freeze an additional year. The smaller teams have closed the performance gap.
20. Michael McDowell ($6,000) - We’re going to see who has diamond hands this week. Did you buy GME north of $200? McDowell is hot, but is this real? A plate race, a road course that was virtually a plate race, and Homestead are not standard measures of achievement. Playing McD could mean all of the tendies or that you’ve wasted your stimmy check.
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