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.
The DraftKings Verizon 200 at the Brickyard slate locks at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Chase Elliott ($11,000) — His stats are impressive, but that’s not the best thing that Elliott has going — he’s angry. Last week, NASCAR confiscated a part, ejected his crew chief and the No. 9 car was forced to start in the back. Elliott overcame the odds and finished a close second, but was he happy? No, he was visibly upset in his post-race interview — he expects to win even when the deck is stacked against him.
2. Kyle Larson ($10,800) — In the moment, it’s hard to truly appreciate excellence. The 2021 battle between Larson and Elliott is shaping up to be legendary and a story that you will tell your kids about some day. That might be a little much, but Larson is the best American driver of the 21st century and he’s driving for the best stock car team in NASCAR history.
3. Martin Truex Jr ($10,400) — For a moment last week, it looked like the old king of road racing was back, but that moment passed. Truex led the most laps at Watkins Glen (34), but he lost the lead to Kyle Larson during the stage 3 green flag pit stops and was never able to regain the lead.
4. Christopher Bell ($9,200) — He was all over Martin Truex for 10 laps to begin stage 3, but he couldn’t wrestle the lead away. Kyle Larson entered the picture, and accidentally spun Bell, his longtime friend and dirt track rival. Larson called Bell a child this week, when Bell refused to accept Larson’s apology phone call. Bell is fired up or petulant, and he could earn his second road course win this weekend or he could take Larson out.
5. Denny Hamlin ($10,000) — In 2020, Hamlin was winning left and right because his car was a smidgen faster than everyone else’s. This season, he’s consistently earning top 5s and finishing just a smidgen behind the Hendrick cars.
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6. Kyle Busch ($10,200) — The JGR Toyotas are not as fast as the Hendrick Chevys. Busch did everything he could last week, but his car was slower than Larson’s No. 5 car and Elliott’s No. 9 car. It’s very possible that this week’s results will be more circumstantial than speed driven based on the volatile nature of roval events.
7. Joey Logano ($9,600) — At Watkins Glen, Logano had a top-5 race car, but once again, he did not have a race-winning race car. His 22nd place finish does not seem like a top-5 car, but during stage 3, his teammate wrecked into him.
8. Chase Briscoe ($7,900) — Not only does he have experience at the Indy road course, but he won the inaugural race. In the 2018 Xfinity Series, Briscoe won the inaugural Charlotte Roval race. He’s been good at roval type tracks and he’s earned three top-10 finishes in Cup Series road races this season.
9. Ross Chastain ($7,700) — There are three big stats this weekend. Practice, current form, and track history. Practice hasn’t happened yet, so that leaves two. Most of the field does not have any reps at this track, so that leaves only current form. Chastain does have experience at the Indy road course (sixth in the 2020 Xfinity race), and he’s finished 12th or better in the last four road races.
10. Kurt Busch ($9,000) — The drivers that figure out the Indy Grand Prix the fastest will be contenders. Kurt Busch has more road racing experience than any other driver in the field and his average finish of 11th at road courses over the last decade is the best in the field. He should be a quick study.
11. AJ Allmendinger ($8,800) — As far as advantages go, no one is in a better spot than Allmendinger. He has a road racing background, experience at the Indy GP and he’s racing for the win —stage points are meaningless to him. His equipment is not the best, but he was able to finish fifth at COTA and seventh at the Daytona Road Course in a Kaulig Racing car.
12. Austin Cindric ($9,400) — Some DFS players are disappointed that he doesn’t win every road course race in the Xfinity series, but to expect perfection from a young driver is ludicrous. Equally ludicrous is expecting Cindric to win a Cup race, but he was battling for the lead at Road America last month before a mechanical failure ended his day.
13. Ryan Blaney ($8,600) — The last couple seasons have been challenging for Blaney at road courses, but throughout, he’s been consistent at the Charlotte Roval (finishes of fifth, eighth and first). Indy is a traditional road course, but it’s also a roval.
14. William Byron ($9,800) — Nothing went wrong for Byron at Watkins Glen, so he finished sixth. His results have been mixed at road courses, but his equipment and talent are top notch. That being said, he’s not Chase Elliott or Kyle Larson.
15. Alex Bowman ($8,400) — The weak link for the Hendrick road course juggernaut is Alex Bowman, but that could change at Indy. Bowman has been markedly better at roval tracks than traditional road courses. His average finish in his five roval races is seventh.
16. Brad Keselowski ($8,200) — At Watkins Glen, Keselowski was given the pole, and to the surprise of few, he squandered the opportunity. Keselowski spun out several times and finished 35th. Watkins Glen is a familiar road course for Keselowski and the aging veteran couldn’t handle it, so a brand new track in Indianapolis does not sound advantageous.
17. Kevin Harvick ($8,000) — A couple months ago, the NASCAR Driver Rankings article posited the idea that Harvick was the 2020 Kyle Busch. Each week, this theory seems to be more factual. Busch practically phoned in the 2020 season due to the absence of practice. Harvick doesn’t have the team or the cars to compete for wins each week.
18. Tyler Reddick ($7,600) — He is a talented young driver and his development is progressing each week. RCR’s engine alliance with Hendrick Motorsports certainly helps, but don’t let that take away from what he has accomplished on the road courses — three top-10 finishes in the last four road races.
19. Michael McDowell ($7,200) — This has not been a good road racing season for McDowell, but legitimate excuses can be made. Watkins Glen is a high speed road course and equipment means just as much as talent. This week’s race will be more technical and volatile, and it will open the door for small team top-10 finishes.
20. Chris Buescher ($7,100) — His average finish at the road courses this season is 15th. That ranks 13th in this field and it’s about where he has always finished in road course races excluding his rookie season.
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