NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Pennzoil 400
It's Vegas, baby! We are now in the third week of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, and that means we will see our first race with full implementation of the new aero package. There were only two practices this week as opposed to the normal three practices in Vegas due to rain early Saturday morning.
If you have gotten the chance to see either or both practices this weekend, you'll notice that drivers were drafting off of one another, but not in the same way that they would at a track like Daytona or Talledega. The difference is that there was a lot of tandem drafting (where cars pair off and draft off of one another), something that we haven't seen a lot of since the 2011 Daytona 500 where NASCAR was experimenting with a different rules package. This could make for very interesting racing. So without further ado, let's talk about top fantasy drivers of the week!
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 ($14,500): Starting on the pole, Kevin Harvick has to be considered one of the safest drivers on the board. He has two wins and five top fives here. Last year, Harvick won this race as the second of what would end up being three straight victories for the 4 car. To me, Harvick is a lock for all formats.
However, if you are someone who lives and dies by the practice numbers, you might think otherwise. Harvick's on-paper practice numbers are not great. It's actually quite the opposite. The concern mainly comes from his second practice numbers, where he had the 29th best single-lap time and 14th-best 10-lap average. You could attribute this to the odd drafting nature of this package, but it's still not good to see a guy you want in all your lineups not have great practice numbers. But I'll still do so under the belief that the drafting effects were exaggerated in practice and will correct once the race begins.
Brad Keselowski ($14,000): Along with Harvick, Brad Keselowski is another driver that I would consider safe in all formats. The high salary might make it a stretch to put both into the same lineup, but I would still try to do so none the less. Starting in 19th, Keselowski has place-differential upside in his favor. He has both track history and practice as reasons to roster him. Since 2014, Keselowski has three wins, four top-fives and six top-10 finishes. As far as practice is concerned, Keselowski did very well for himself, especially in the second practice, notching the fifth-best single-lap speed, and the third-best 10-lap average. Keselowski also ran 21% of his practice laps at 176 mph or faster, which ranks in the 95th percentile of practice speeds. Is this because he drafted well? Potentially. But a lot of it has to do with a fast car that has the ability to post a top-five once again here at Vegas. Roster with confidence.
Others to consider: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch
Aric Almirola ($10,000): Just to note, there are a lot of place-differential guys that can be played in this range. But starting in 25th, there's very good reason to roster Aric Almirola. Every race he's run here since 2015, he's slowly improved on the finish before that, from finishing 26th in 2015 to finishing 6th in the fall race here last season. In second practice, Almirola ranked fourth in both single-lap speeds and 10-lap averages. He also ran 13% of his laps at 176 mph or faster. He'll be in the higher tier of ownership, but I am confident in his ability to perform well enough to get into the optimal lineup and maybe even give himself a shot to win this race.
Kurt Busch ($9,600): A lot of the same reasons as to why I like rostering Almirola in this race can be applied to the elder Busch. The appeal for Busch may be even higher, though, as he starts 28th, which gives him a little more room to move up in the field. The practice numbers are very similar. The only knock against Busch here is that he has had some bad luck with his car. Whether it be due to crashes or technical issues, it would explain why he's finished 20th or worse at Vegas in four of his last five starts. Busch's third-place performance at Atlanta tells me that he is getting very comfortable with his new ride and ready to compete, which is a great sign to see heading into this race.
Ryan Newman ($8,400): Another solid place-differential play in this price range, Ryan Newman (starting in 29th) performed better than I thought he would at Atlanta, finishing 13th with a 14th-place average running position. He's running fairly well in his new 6 car, which can translate into a good performance at Vegas. His practice numbers are up there with the aforementioned Almirola and Busch. Last season, Newman finished 11th and 9th, respectively, in both races here. Newman should be a part of a nice GPP and cash core in lineups.
Others to consider: Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones
William Byron ($7,100): Starting in 20th, you can definitely get some good value out of William Byron. He ran a good chunk of his laps (15.4%) at or above 175.6 mph (90th percentile of practice speeds) in the second practice. His single-lap and 10-lap average speeds were 17th amongst all drivers. Because of the price, he has the ability to be a solid GPP driver, though I would not roster him in cash. But Byron is a guy who I have a gut feeling can perform better here than the numbers might suggest.
Chris Buescher ($6,000): Starting 27th, Chris Buescher will be a driver that I am willing to eat big ownership on. Coming off of a ninth-place finish at Atlanta, Buescher is poised to charge through the field from the back once again. He's coming off of two 15th-place finishes here last season and is poised to do even better with the new package. The practice numbers don't excite me a whole lot, but I feel as if this is a similar situation to Harvick where it can be explained with the weird drafting patterns that have occurred in practice. Buescher has too much skill and too good of equipment not to move up this field from 27. Roster with confidence in all formats.
Ryan Preece ($5,000): The rookie, who starts 24th this week, should be a driver worth rostering after performing well at Atlanta prior to his incident with B.J. Mcleod. He was running 18% of his laps in the top 15 of the field with an average running position of 20th, very high considering he spent 100 laps not being in the race. Preece has been solid through two races in the 47 car, finishing eighth the week prior in Daytona. At a salary this low, he does not have to do all that much to justify it. Preece is another driver that I will be rostering with the utmost of confidence.
Evan Cheney is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Evan Cheney also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username theman90210. 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.