After last week’s debacle in just getting a valid race in, let alone finding a winner, we now get to go to Kentucky, where it seems like they have been working very hard on the track to make this a more exciting race than last year’s event. Martin Truex Jr has won the past two races here and is vying for his third in a row. However, there are some top-notch competitors in this field who are set up well for a win.
So without further ado, let’s talk about the top fantasy plays on this slate.
Here at numberFire, we’ve always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about Kentucky, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on recent driver history, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend’s slate.
Kevin Harvick ($12,000) – Harvick is my top driver in the field this week, and he’s one who has a good chance of winning the race. As many of you know, it isn’t poor driving or poor equipment that is holding Harvick back; it is all of the bad luck. Whether it’s on pit road or getting caught up in accidents, the number-4 team can’t seem to put a full race together, especially when they are doing well throughout. Harvick has the best driver rating in the field at 1.5-mile tracks this season (111.4), and he also ran the fastest average practice speed in second practice (179.7 miles per hour). Harvick can rewrite his luck in this one and finally get a win.
Alex Bowman ($11,200) – There are a lot of guys in play when it comes to high-priced place-differential options, but Bowman has the highest fantasy upside amongst that group. Bowman has been one of the hottest drivers in the series when you take out his Daytona race last week. Winning at Chicago, the sky’s the limit for Bowman this season, his second with Hendrick. Bowman, starting in 22nd this week, has a driver rating of 96.4 over his last four non-plate races, indicating that he can move up in this field. He has a solid floor as well as an enticing ceiling.
Ryan Blaney ($10,400) – Blaney sets up well for this race, and he may fly under the radar a tad. When taking into account a lot of the key statistics coming into this one, he is in the top seven in this week’s field in every one aside from his practice speed (12th). His season-long form, recent form, track-type form and track-history form are all at least a 95 or above in terms of his driver ratings. It’s not hard to see Blaney with a top-five finish this week.
William Byron ($9,000) – Starting in 12th, Byron needs to just maintain his position in order to be a worthwhile play this week. Given his recent form and sixth-ranked practice speeds, he’s more than capable of holding his own. His driver rating in his last four non-plate races sits at 90.3, which is a top-10 clip in the field, and his average speed in second practice was 179.2 MPH. If Kentucky was a track that favored more passing, Byron might have the ability to win this race. However, the better bet is that he logs a top-10 finish and is a solid mid-range play tonight.
Daniel Suarez ($8,200) – Starting on the pole, Suarez give himself the ability to get a good chunk of laps led points early on. Some people may be off of Suarez because of an antiquated mindset of “he’s going to get passed in the first few laps.” Sure, that is possible, but it’s just not as likely in the 2019 package at a single-groove racetrack. Let’s take the Texas race for example, because it’s a perfect comparison to the situation we have this week. Jimmie Johnson started on the pole with teammate William Byron in second. With drivers such as Denny Hamlin (the eventual winner) and Joey Logano also starting in the top 10, the 2018 mindset would say that one of the those two drivers would make a pass on Johnson for the lead early on and render Johnson useless in DFS. But in the 2019 package, Byron was able to propel Johnson to lead the first 59 laps of the race, comfortably putting him into the optimal lineup for that week. This is a very comparable situation that we have here with Suarez on the pole and teammate Aric Almirola starting second. If Suarez can finish in the top 10 and lead at least 10 laps, he to can find himself in this week’s optimal lineup.
Ryan Newman ($7,300) – The recent form and season-long form for Newman are solid enough to justify rostering him at this price, and he’s starting in 23rd. But for someone who we might consider a punt, Newman has surprisingly good track history at Kentucky, coming in with an average driver rating of 83.4 in all of his Kentucky races since 2013. He will likely be the less popular play of the two main value drivers people will be on, the other being Chris Buescher, who we will get to in a minute. If you can find the extra $800 in cap space to pivot from Buescher to Newman, it’s not a bad idea to do so in at least in a few lineups. Newman, of course, is a tournament-only play, with Buescher being great for cash.
Chris Buescher ($6,500) – Starting in 26th, Buescher has a little more upside than Newman does, assuming Buescher finishes the race, of course. Buescher is going to be a chalky value play for good reason. By rostering him, you can pretty much go with three expensive drivers and a mid-tier play for the rest of your lineup. Buescher has done well on 1.5-mile tracks, coming into this race with a driver rating of 73.5 on such tracks this season. He is a fine value play, just know that you and a really big chunk — possibly around 30% — of your closest DFS friends will think the same thing, which is what makes Newman an appealing play.
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.