The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
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1. Kyle Larson ($11,800) — If this track races like Dover, then it could be another dominant race by Larson. In that high horsepower race, Larson led 264 laps and his average running position was 1st place. That is a very rare achievement.
2. Denny Hamlin ($10,100) — No one knows what track is the best reference point for Nashville. Richmond is one of the tracks that could be relevant, and Hamlin led 208 laps at Richmond. Dover, Darlington, and Phoenix might be better reference points. When all four tracks are combined, Hamlin has the best average finish.
3. Martin Truex Jr ($10,400) — He has three low downforce, high horsepower wins this season. Truex could have won at Richmond, but a pit penalty under green in stage 3 knocked him out of contention. Miraculously, he managed to stay on the lead lap in that race.
4. Kyle Busch ($9,900) — If he wins the Nashville race, will he smash the trophy (a guitar), again? The last time he did it, he spent the next week apologizing and praising Gibson guitars. Maybe he’ll light a bag of M&M’s on fire while he’s at it. His win a decade ago might not help him much this weekend, but it can’t hurt.
5. Joey Logano ($8,900) — In this racing package last season, Logano averaged the most top 5 laps. He has picked up where he left off last season. His average finish in this package is 6th place. HMS and JGR are the teams to beat, but Logano is right there with them.
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6. Alex Bowman ($9,300) — Will Nashville be like Dover or Richmond? It doesn’t matter because Bowman won both races. He wasn’t the best driver in either, but he was a top 5 driver and closed each race with perfect pit stops and restarts.
7. William Byron ($9,700) — There are four low downforce, high horsepower race tracks that matter this weekend (Richmond, Dover, Darlington, and Phoenix). William Byron has the second-best average finish at those tracks this season.
8. Ryan Blaney ($8,700) — High horsepower tracks have not been Blaney’s strong suit, but he is an expert at managing tire wear. Which strength will matter this weekend? Blaney has not scored more than two hog points in his last three high horsepower races, but he managed his tire wear at Atlanta and won.
9. Chase Elliott ($10,700) — The No. 9 car is not that far off. Elliott finished 12th at Richmond, but that has never been one of his strong tracks. In the other low downforce races this season, Elliott has finishes of 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th. He’s close, but close doesn’t beat Larson, Hamlin, and Truex.
10. Brad Keselowski ($9,500) — Last season, Keselowski was one of the best high horsepower drivers. This season, his average finish in this package at oval tracks is 19th place. His 2021 average finish isn’t that great either (13th). Keselowski’s best days might be in the rear view mirror.
11. Kevin Harvick ($9,100) — This is a lost season, but it might be intentional. SHR might as well start focusing on the Next Gen car and the 2022 season, if they haven’t already. Harvick is the 2020 Kyle Busch. He might sneak away with a win or two this season, but he’s not a lap leader.
12. Christopher Bell ($8,400) — The last Nashville race was in 2011, so no one has any worthwhile race experience. The key word is race; Bell participated in a tire test at Nashville in March. He’s already an above average driver in this package. Those laps make Bell the dark horse contender this weekend.
13. Ross Chastain ($7,600) — Chip Ganassi Racing tested at Nashville and that might give Chastain a little bit of an edge. He doesn’t need much of an edge because he has finished 15th in each of the last three low downforce races (Dover, Darlington, and Richmond).
14. Aric Almirola ($7,700) — The one time Aric Almirola did not light your money on fire was Richmond (6th place finish). There is a very good chance that this race could be similar to Richmond. If Almirola does not get unlucky again, then he’ll likely be in the optimal lineup.
15. Kurt Busch ($8,300) — He’s another driver that participated in the tire test at Nashville. That little bit of knowledge could elevate Busch from a top 15 driver to a top 10 driver.
16. Austin Dillon ($8,100) — Last season, Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing formed an engine alliance. Although it seems that Hendrick is getting the better end of the deal, RCR looks like a different team compared to 2019. Austin Dillon’s average finish in high horsepower races is 14th.
17. Tyler Reddick ($8,600) — The RCR cars have nearly identical stats. Reddick’s average running position at the tracks that matter (Dover, Darlington, Richmond, and Phoenix) is 14th. His teammate Austin Dillon has an average running position of 15th at those tracks.
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,200) — Give or take a spot, Stenhouse has been a 15th place driver this season. At Charlotte, his team had the opportunity to practice and he finished 12th. Practice returns this weekend, so Stenhouse should be a top 15 driver.
19. Chase Briscoe ($6,200) — Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe participated in the tire test, but will that be an advantage? The drivers tested a lot of different tire combinations, but it was still laps. There’s practice this weekend, so everyone is going to get laps. It’s possible that Briscoe has a head start in terms of nailing the setup; it’s worth considering at this price.
20. Daniel Suarez ($6,300) — If he did not have talent, then he would not be around. Winning an Xfinity championship doesn’t mean a lot, but it means something. RCR partnered with Hendrick last season and they improved dramatically, Trackhouse Racing is partnered with RCR and so far the results have been promising (16th at Richmond, 9th at Dover).
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