NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Last week, the wild, wreck-filled Daytona 500 was a smashing start to NASCAR's 2019 season. Denny Hamlin held off a charge from teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones to bring home the trophy for Joe Gibbs Racing.
With the Great American Race behind us, the worn-out, slick Atlanta Motor Speedway plays host to NASCAR's best. The 1.5-mile track will be a different track to handle this year because of the new downforce package implemented in this race. The goal of the package is to make the racing more exciting, but obviously, the unknown of it will make things more difficult on our end.
There are several different possible approaches to embracing this unknown, and we'll aim to cover many of them in this piece.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about this track, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on drivers' recent history here and elsewhere, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kevin Harvick ($14,000): It seems crazy to even entertain the idea of fading Harvick at Atlanta, but the new downforce package absolutely presents the argument to do so. Let's start with why Happy is chalk -- he's led 473 of a possible 650 laps at the track the last two years, he was consistently the best driver in NASCAR throughout last year, and he's starting 18th today, which creates tremendous pass-differential upside for someone who could dominate the race. So what is the downside? Well, Harvick was as slow as molasses in practice this week, failing to crack the top 20 in either session. That's not ideal for the most expensive guy in the driver pool. But there are also plenty of reasons to lock in Harvick and build from there. With the downforce package, speeds are reduced. It could make the racing similar to NASCAR's Xfinity Series, and Harvick already dominated the Xfinity race here a year ago. The closest package to this one that we have seen to this point was at last year's All-Star Race, and Harvick pulled away late to win that event.
Joey Logano ($13,200): Speaking of not overthinking it, in a weak 37-car field, rostering the defending champion who is starting 27th is just about a no-brainer. The good news is JoLo appears to have found some speed, posting a seventh-place showing in final practice. With the package being an unknown, we can look more toward car and driver talent, and both boxes are checked here with Logano. He carries a hefty price tag and will be popular -- maybe more popular than Harvick -- but he is well worth it, especially in cash formats. Via his starting spot, Logano also offers crazy upside, so he's firmly in play in GPPs, as well.
Chase Elliott ($12,200): The new year looks like more of the same for Hendrick Motorsports -- at least for this weekend. They have been down on speed in qualifying and practice so far, but many of their drivers last year were popular week-to-week DFS plays because they tended to race better than they qualified, which led to high pass-differential potential. Elliott was by far the fastest of the Hendrick brigade in 2018, posting the most wins (3), top 5s (11), and top 10s (21). Starting from 22nd, Elliott can climb through the field today, and if he does, he would be a solid compliment to a Harvick or Logano.
Clint Bowyer ($10,800): The new downforce package has some in the NASCAR DFS community wondering if dominator points will be a thing of the past. The All-Star Race saw plenty of lead changes, and therefore most of the winning lineups contained drivers from the back of the field, as no dominator was present. In that race, Harvick had the best car but led only 26 of 80 laps before the final segment. There will likely be two distinct strategies for this pivotal race. One could be described as the "classic" approach, which includes prioritizing high-potential lap leaders with bargain pass-differential plays. The other strategy -- let's call it the "new" approach -- is similar to how many DFS players approach restrictor plate tracks. This involves playing many drivers at the back, such as the three mentioned thus far, to increase your lineup's floor while not having to worry about ceiling if no one can lead 200 laps in this race. If the "classic" school of thought is applied, Bowyer appears to be a tremendous fit. He was fastest in both practice sessions and starts third. He could find the front quickly, but the question remains, even with a dominant car, can he stay there?
Ryan Blaney ($10,500): We can apply the same logic to Blaney that we did with his Penske teammate, Logano. Blaney is on a fast team with great equipment, and he's an excellent young driver. And just like Logano, he offers pretty great upside due to starting 26th. Blaney will be popular at only $10,500, but he is a must in cash games as he finished in the top five last year five times on 1.5-mile tracks.
Daniel Hemric ($5,000): Hemric was a popular play at Daytona, and like many, he crashed out in the late going. Still, it is hard to wrap your brain around the pricing here. Hemric is driving for Richard Childress Racing, which features Austin Dillon, as well. Hemric actually outran his teammate in many Xfinity Series races they shared last year, so the natural talent appears to be around the same, and the equipment is identical. Hemric, though, is only $5,000 while Dillon is $7,300. This price feels extremely low for a driver and team of this caliber, and they have flashed speed this weekend, coming in ninth in the final practice. Hemric starts 28th, which gives him a tremendous floor as well as plenty of upside, and this may prove to be one of the better values we come across all season.
Chris Buescher ($6,000): Given the cost of the drivers mentioned so far, we need some bargain plays to offset the guys at the top. Enter Buescher, who made a mistake in qualifying. This JTG Daugherty Racing team has made a huge investment into a full alliance with Hendrick Motorsports to improve their performance over past years. Buescher was top 20 in both practices, so he appears to have much better speed than his starting spot, which is 30th. If not for Hemric, Buescher would likely be a chalky value play.
Michael McDowell ($5,000): McDowell is the feel good story of 2019 thus far. He actually found himself at the center of a controversy this week for not assisting fellow Ford driver Joey Logano in the closing laps of the Daytona 500, where he posted an astonishing fifth-place showing for his small team. That hasn't stopped McDowell this weekend as he made the final round of qualifying and finished fourth in final practice. McDowell has always been a talented dude, and maybe the downforce package is the great equalizer for him to truly compete in NASCAR's top series without top-shelf equipment. McDowell is a little dicey starting 12th, and as with any small team, the chances of a fatal part failure or mistake are always higher. But he appears to have legitimate top-10 speed, and at this price tag, he could smash value if things go his way.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.