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. Kyle Busch ($15,000) — Put the calculator away. It’s important to know how many points Busch needs to score in order to be an optimal place. The problem with this theoretical equation is it assumes every driver has a ceiling day. If other truck drivers have average scoring days, which is the norm, then Busch does not have to reach 5X value to be in the winning lineup.
2. John H. Nemechek ($11,000) — Last week, Nemechek looked human, but don’t overreact. His disappointing performance was likely due to his poor track position in a race where passing was incredibly difficult.
3. Todd Gilliland ($10,300) — For the last month, Gilliland has been one of the fastest drivers in the series. NASCAR was suspicious of his sudden speed and forced Gilly to make changes before the Nashville race, but it didn’t stop him. If anyone is going to compete with the Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks, then it’s going to be the DGR-Crosley Fords.
4. Zane Smith ($9,300) — It’s easy to write off Smith because he hasn’t won this season, but a deep analysis of his stats reveals he is the second-best driver in this series. Since Las Vegas, his driver rating has never been lower than the 10th-best, and he averages the seventh-best rating. Nemechek has the wins, but his average is only one spot better.
5. Sheldon Creed ($10,500) — He led the most laps at Pocono last season, but Brandon Jones outdrove him and passed him on the final lap. Just think about that for a second. The 2020 Truck Series champ was cleanly passed by Brandon Jones on the last lap.
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6. Austin Hill ($10,000) — He did not lead a lap in the last Pocono race, and he only earned three fast laps, but Hill was a part of the three-way battle for the win on the last lap. Hill ran the third-most laps inside the top five in that race (78%).
7. Ryan Preece ($9,800) — The DGR-Crosley Fords were hooked up last week. When two of the three trucks were busted pre-race with illegal setups, most DFS knew the Fords were going to be fast in the race. Sure enough, they were the class of the field.
8. Tyler Ankrum ($6,300) — At Richmond, his salary was $11,000. Starting position played a role in that price, but $6,300 is way too low. Ankrum has been inconsistent this season, but this is disrespectful. Chase Purdy is a $6K-range GMS truck, but Ankrum is at least an $8K GMS truck.
9. Chandler Smith ($7,800) — Going into Nashville, Smith had finished sixth in back-to-back races. At Nashville, he finished 13th, but he had the fifth-best driver rating. If Smith finishes fifth this weekend, then there is a good chance that he is optimal at this price.
10. Johnny Sauter ($7,300) — If Sauter can advance his position by four spots, then he has a good shot at being in the winning lineup. All he has to do is drive from 12th to eighth at this price. It seems easy, but this is Johnny Sauter that we’re talking about.
11. Stewart Friesen ($8,200) — Does Friesen have to win in order to be in the winning lineup? His price tag leaves a little bit of wiggle room, but it all comes down to the place differential plays. If cheap drivers do not score double-digit place differential points, then Friesen can be in the winning lineup with a third-place finish.
12. Matt Crafton ($8,000) — This price does not match his ability, but makes sense based on his starting position. Crafton does not lead laps, and the only way a driver starting inside the top 10 earns a spot in the optimal lineup is by leading laps.
13. Ben Rhodes ($9,100) — If Rhodes controls stage one, then he can be optimal. He’s starting third, so it doesn’t sound far fetched. However, it is a stretch based on the drivers around him. Todd Gilliland, Zane Smith and Austin Hill are all better than Rhodes, and they have a much better shot at controlling stage one.
14. Christian Eckes ($9,000) — Pocono marks a turning point in Eckes’ career. He was leading this race last season before blowing a tire in stage three. Several months later, his days with KBM came to an end. Now, he’s a part-time driver for ThorSport. Eckes has more upside than Matt Crafton or Stewart Friesen, but why not pick Tyler Ankrum at nearly $3,000 less?
15. Bayley Currey ($8,700) — The Niece trucks are 15th-place trucks, and Currey has averaged a 19th-place finish in his four races with this team. Last season, Currey finished 16th for Niece at Pocono.
16. Jack Wood ($6,000) — His teammate, Tyler Ankrum, is starting deeper in the field and is only $300 more. Wood’s price is right based on his GMS truck and his performance last week — seventh-best driver rating.
17. Derek Kraus ($6,500) — He has two top-10 finishes in 12 races this season. Kraus earned 13 top-10 finishes in 23 races last season. This could be a sophomore slump, but all is not lost. Kraus looked like the 2020 version of himself for most of last week’s race.
18. Ty Majeski ($7,100) — He had a race-winning truck and was driving to the front at Pocono last season, but Grant Enfinger intentionally wrecked him. Enfinger got mad that he was getting passed. Give credit to Enfinger for admitting fault, but it’s a shame there weren’t consequences for his actions. Majeski never got another chance in a Niece truck.
19. Grant Enfinger ($9,600) — This is a Rohrbaugh week with a ThorSport price. Enfinger made it work in a similar situation at Las Vegas, but half the field had to wreck for that to happen.
20. Ryan Truex ($6,100) — Last season, the Tricky Triangle was renamed the WRECK-tangle by fans due to the sloppy racing in the lower series. Racing Pocono without practice is a bold move, and it will likely lead to volatility that could benefit value picks like Truex — as long as he’s not the volatility.
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