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. John H. Nemechek ($10,900) - Throw out the dirt race and COTA. In the other seven races this season, Nemechek has earned the No. 1 driver rating three times, the No. 2 driver rating three times, and he had the 4th best driver rating at Daytona.
2. Sheldon Creed ($10,700) - John Hunter Nemechek and his crew chief Eric Phillips are the best combo in the Truck Series, but Creed and his crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz disagree. It’s not a coincidence that as soon as Kyle Busch stopped racing trucks, Creed won at Darlington. Busch is not racing this weekend.
3. Austin Hill ($10,400) - It’s common for the best drivers in the Truck Series to start the season slowly because Kyle Busch runs most of the races early in the season. Now is the time where the contenders emerge. Austin Hill has been the best intermediate track driver in the Truck Series for the last two seasons.
4. Ben Rhodes ($10,100) - Rich Lushes took over as the crew chief for the #99 truck this season, and Rhodes is having the best season of his career. His Daytona and Daytona Road Course wins might have been lucky, but he’s been good in every race since Daytona. Rhodes has the best average running position in the Truck Series.
5. Drew Dollar ($6,900) - This price is a mistake. Normally, a low price on the #51 KBM truck can be justified, if it’s a young driver without any experience. While that’s true this weekend, there is a big difference. Dollar will get valuable reps in practice this weekend.
6. Chandler Smith ($8,100) - Once upon a time, Smith was a part time driver for KBM and he got to practice before races. In the mythical era of 2019, Smith was a phenom destined for greatness. This weekend, practice returns and Chandler Smith might once again look like that rising superstar.
7. Zane Smith ($9,500) - Last season, Smith looked like he was going to be a breakout star in the Truck Series. He still looks good, but GMS is struggling. Ankrum is not improving, Moffitt is gone, and Chase Purdy has been terrible. Smith’s lackluster start could be organizational or it could be that the competition has stepped up their game.
8. Matt Crafton ($9,900) - He very rarely wins anymore (two wins in the last five seasons), but he deserves credit for consistently finishing near the front. At 44 years old, he earned 15 top 10 finishes last season. Crafton only has four top 10s in nine races in 2021, but he finished outside of the top 10 at a plate track, a road course, and a dirt track.
9. Ty Majeski ($7,900) - It’s possible that Majeski is one of the unluckiest drivers in NASCAR history. Before Majeski lost his ride at Niece, he spent time driving the infamous #60 Roush Xfinity car. Majeski is a legendary iRacer and an elite late model racer, but in NASCAR his luck has been terrible.
10. Carson Hocevar ($6,100) - Here’s a shocker, Hocevar has the 9th best average finish in the Truck Series. Is the Truck Series this bad or is Hocevar good? Both can be true and both can be false. Hocevar’s calling card is that he’s been pretty good at challenging tracks. That might not help him much at Charlotte, but that is a good developmental sign.
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11. Austin Wayne Self ($6,000) - He has the 14th best average finish in the Truck Series. His results and his price should make him popular. Normally, based on his results, Self starts too close to the front. With qualifying taking place at Charlotte, Self might start a little further from the front.
12. Stewart Friesen ($9,000) - This is a steep price to pay for a driver that hasn’t completely proven that he’s back to his 2019 form. Differing pit strategies are common in this series and hairy restarts can result in lead laps for the trucks that aren’t the best. Friesen has a shot at working, but it won’t be easy leading laps ahead of Creed, Nemechek, and Hill.
13. Todd Gilliland ($8,400) - Momentum is on his side after his win last week, but it’s the weakest momentum a driver could have. Winning a road course is about as meaningful as winning a plate race. Last week’s success does not imply that the team is any better at setting up the truck for ovals or that Gilliland is any better at racing ovals.
14. Tanner Gray ($7,300) - Last season, his average finish was 16th. This season it’s 23rd. Gray isn’t a worse driver and David Gilliland Crosley Racing is not falling apart as a team. However, the team did decide to change crew chiefs at Richmond. Since then, his average finish is 27th.
15. Hailie Deegan ($6,400) - Over the last six races, Deegan’s average finish is 17th. It’s hard for her to develop any faster without practice. She is doing everything that is expected given the circumstances. With the temporary return of practice, she could be a top 15 driver, if she avoids the restart mayhem.
16. Grant Enfinger ($9,700) - He’s driving the Rohrbaugh truck again this week. It didn’t hold him back last week, but that was a funky road course race. Enfinger earned a top 10 at Las Vegas in this truck, but that race was a wreckfest. At Kansas, Enfinger finished 17th in this truck.
17. Johnny Sauter ($8,200) - His truck should be fast enough to run inside the top 10. If the cautions fall at the right time and Sauter doesn’t wreck on a restart, then he could squeeze into an optimal lineup if he doesn’t have a starting position inside the top 10.
18. Christian Eckes ($8,600) - Compared to the price tags on his ThorSport teammates, Eckes is a steal. Matt Crafton isn’t that much better than Eckes, but he’s $1,300 more expensive. Eckes didn’t have a 4th place truck at Kansas, but that is where he finished. He just needs to run upfront and nail the last restart.
19. Bret Holmes ($5,900) - This truck finished 9th at Richmond, so that shouldn’t be a problem. The issue is that Holmes is an ARCA driver with very little truck series experience. At least he’ll get some laps in practice this weekend.
20. Jack Wood ($5,700) - It’s a $5,700 GMS truck. When has that ever happened? Wood is about as inexperienced as they come, but he finished 4th in an ARCA race at Kansas earlier this month. The cheap driver in good equipment play has not been very successful over the last season, but this is the one time that the inexperienced drivers get to practice.
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