DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Bristol Night Race

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission.

Last race’s results: Played $4 Brake Pad contest. Won $0.

Season results: $72 wagered, $80 won in 18 contests.

This week’s contest: $4 Brake Pad game (single entry).

Thoughts on Bristol strategy: There are 500 laps available to lead tonight, so I’m guessing the winning entries are going to contain the two drivers who have the most laps led plus another few drivers with solid finishes. I’m not worried as much about position differential this week.

Bristol picks:

— Kyle Busch ($10,800): Busch has been dominating Bristol this weekend and he’s on a mission to complete the Bristol Sweep again. I’m not going to be against him, at least in terms of dominating the race and leading a ton of laps.

— Kyle Larson ($10,500): He’s going to put his car where the other drivers aren’t and run in the top five for most of the night if all goes well. Like Busch, I’m not going to bet against his chances.

— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,700): Stenhouse has sky-high expectations for this race, and rightfully so — his average finish here is second among active drivers and he finished second in the 2016 night race. I like his chances of contending for the win.

— Austin Dillon ($7,500): Dillon knows how to get around Bristol quite well and has the seventh-best average finish here among active drivers (15th). He finished fourth in this race last season.

— Ryan Newman ($7,200): I was going to pick Kasey Kahne here because he qualified third and looks to have a good car, but his team made an unapproved adjustment (fixed a flat tire) and he has to drop to the rear. So my replacement is Newman because his career results here are pretty decent overall (16.3 average finish).

— Chris Buescher ($6,000): He crashed in the spring race, but Buescher was fifth in this race last year and has shown speed all weekend (he qualified 15th). For this price, you’re not going to find a better bargain.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Watkins Glen

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission.

Last race’s results: Played $4 Brake Pad contest and finished 285th out of 2,900. Won $8.

Season results: $68 wagered, $80 won in 17 contests.

This week’s contest: $4 Brake Pad game (single entry).

Watkins Glen picks:

— Kevin Harvick ($10,000): He starts 20th at a place where his average finish is 13.2. Place differential is EVERYTHING today, so that’s where you need to look.

— Kurt Busch ($9,600): This beast on road courses starts 18th today, which provides a good opportunity for picking up some positions. Yeah, he’s expensive, but you can probably afford it because you won’t be spending all of your salary cap anyway.

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($8,000): The No. 88 team has been off all weekend and Earnhardt has been glum about it. But surely Earnhardt can improve from starting 28th, right? So you can hope Greg Ives throws some pit strategy into the mix and Earnhardt stays out of trouble in the meantime.

Michael McDowell ($7,100): DraftKings caught on to McDowell’s potential this weekend and made him more expensive than most weeks. But he’s still worth it, especially after he didn’t have the best qualifying run and will start 14th (I would have passed on him if he started in the top 10). He could win the race if everything goes right.

— Chris Buescher ($6,900): He’s been decently fast this weekend, which offers opportunities to move up from the 17th starting spot. Maybe he’s learned something from teammate AJ Allmendinger and will get a good finish for your team.

— Danica Patrick ($5,900): She should finish better than 25th, which is where she qualified. It’s a pretty cheap option to a possible 10- or 15-spot gain in place differential.

NOTE: I’m leaving $2,500 on the table in terms of salary cap this week, but I feel like these are the best options to get me good finishes in relation to their starting spot, which is why I went this route.

Other tempting options: Trevor Bayne (starts 30th), Austin Dillon (starts 27th), Ryan Newman (starts 23rd).

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Pocono

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission.

Last race’s results: Played $9 Brake Pad contest and finished 17,400th out of 50,400. Won $0.

Season results: $64 wagered, $72 won in 16 contests.

This week’s contest: $4 Brake Pad game (single entry).

Pocono picks:

— Kyle Busch ($10,700): The polesitter seems to have the fastest car in Pennsylvania. He’s going to lead a bunch of laps early in the race and could be your hammer overall.

— Matt Kenseth ($9,200): With the Toyotas looking fast at Pocono, why not go with a guy who starts 15th and could pick up some positions en route to a top-five finish?

— Kurt Busch ($8,500): He starts 18th and should finish better than that. Again, I’m going heavy on position differential here because there aren’t many laps available to lead at Pocono, so it could make a big impact.

— Ryan Newman ($7,600): Once more, I’m looking for value picks who can offer upside in position differential. Newman fits the bill because he starts 20th but may be the best of the Richard Childress Racing group today.

— Daniel Suarez ($7,200): This is the riskiest pick of the bunch, and it came down to Suarez or Kasey Kahne. The reason I went with Suarez is the Toyotas look to be strong today, although it makes me nervous he qualified so high (eighth) and doesn’t have much of a high ceiling. Kahne qualified 12th, if you’re thinking of going that direction.

— Ty Dillon ($6,600): Dillon’s average finish this year is 20th. He starts 30th. Take the potential gain from position differential at an affordable price and don’t tell anyone.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Indianapolis

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission.

Last race’s results: Played $4 Brake Pad contest and finished 1,560th out of 5,400. Won $8.

Season results: $55 wagered, $72 won in 15 contests.

This week’s contest: $9 Track Record game ($400k in total payout).

Indianapolis picks:

Kyle Busch ($10,500): The polesitter and two-time defending champion is likely going to lead a bunch of laps. It’s hard to go against his hammer possibilities, even though he’ll lose points in place differential if he doesn’t win.

— Kyle Larson ($10,200): Larson struggled on Saturday by his standards and had his worst qualifying effort of the season, so he’ll start 25th. The thing is, you know his cars have speed (look at the team’s usual performance, along with teammate Jamie McMurray qualifying third) — which means Larson will probably still get a top-10 out of it and get you a bunch of place differential points along the way.

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($8,200): Earnhardt seemed to have a car better than the 13th-fastest qualifier, which means he could pick up some positions. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a top five at Indy given the Hendrick speed overall, and he’s relatively affordable for someone with that potential.

Kasey Kahne ($7,900): It’s scary to pick Kahne these days, because something always seems to go wrong and screw up his race. But he seems to have a fast car at Indy — he had the sixth-fastest average of the 12 cars who did at least 10 laps in final practice — so it might be worth taking a chance on a guy who starts 19th and could pick up some place differential points.

— AJ Allmendinger ($6,900): It doesn’t look like he has a very good car this weekend, but he qualified 40th. So if he gets a top-25 finish at all, that’s 15 points right there in place differential — which is a way better deal than you’re going to get with other drivers in this price range.

— Paul Menard ($6,300): Here’s a former Brickyard 400 winner who starts 17th and is available for a good price. Menard has consistently made good runs at Indy — he has six top-15 finishes in his last seven Indy races.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: New Hampshire

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission.

Last race’s results: Played $4 Brake Pad contest and finished 1,400th out of 2,900. Won $0.

Season results: $51 wagered, $64 won in 14 contests.

This week’s contest: $4 Brake Pad game (single entry).

New Hampshire picks:

— Martin Truex Jr. ($10,300): It’s always dangerous to take the polesitter because of a potential big drop in position differential, but Truex had the fastest 10-lap average in final practice — so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him lead a ton of laps early in the race. And with 301 laps available to lead, that will be a major factor in fantasy this week.

— Kyle Larson ($9,700): I mean, duh. Larson has been one of the fastest cars all weekend and starts 39th after having his pole-winning time disallowed. Even though Larson will be on everyone’s team, that doesn’t mean you should pass on him.

— Matt Kenseth ($9,300): I needed another driver who could lead a bunch of laps, and the decision at this price range was between Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. Kenseth qualified third and was seventh-fastest in 10-lap final practice average; Hamlin qualified eighth and was fifth-fastest in 10-lap average. So it’s a hard decision, but Kenseth has the best overall driver rating in the last two years here (and costs $500 less), so I decided to let that break the tie.

— Daniel Suarez ($7,500): He’s relatively underpriced considering the potential here. You just have to take a risk that he won’t make a rookie mistake. Suarez qualified 14th but was sixth-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice, ahead of drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick. If he puts together a solid race, it could be a nice top 10 for the price. My alternate pick here was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,600).

— Ryan Newman ($7,300): Newman loves New Hampshire (he ran two Modified races here this weekend) and should be able to rally despite starting 24th. In the last three July races at this track, Newman has started 24th, 26th and 25th — and finished fifth, 11th and seventh, respectively. The downside is all of Richard Childress Racing has struggled this weekend.

— Cole Whitt ($5,700): This is an extremely tough call and I really agonized over how to handle this slot. It was tempting to take Matt DiBenedetto, who is only $5,000, because he qualified 16th. But that’s the very reason you shouldn’t take him, because if he finishes 30th, you’re going to lose 14 points right there. Plus, DiBenedetto was slowest of the 32 drivers in 10-lap average for final practice. So I settled for Whitt, who starts 33rd. I mainly just need him to not lose points; a top-25 would be great.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Kentucky

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission. Disclosure No. 2: I might be America’s worst daily fantasy player.

Last race’s results: Played $9 Firecracker contest and finished 9,770th out of 45,800; won $15.

Season results: $47 wagered, $64 won in 13 contests.

This week’s contest: $4 Brake Pad game (single entry).

Kentucky picks:

— Kyle Busch ($10,200): A very expensive choice and it’s scary to pick the polesitter, but I envision him getting the lead at the start of the race and leading a chunk of laps early en route to a solid finish. I need a hammer, and I’m banking on Busch for that.

— Kyle Larson ($10,000): Duh, right? Everyone will pick Larson because he starts 40th (didn’t qualify) and has a huge upside for position differential. However, that doesn’t mean he’s the wrong pick just because everyone else will have him, too.

— Clint Bowyer ($8,400): He starts 16th and could easily get a top-10 finish, so that’s a positive. The price point isn’t terrible, and I needed a driver who wasn’t super expensive but still capable of a very good race.

— Kurt Busch ($8,100): Of the 15 drivers who ran 10 or more consecutive laps in final practice, Busch was ninth. While that’s not amazing, he was ahead of similar drivers at this range (like Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and starts 15th, so there’s some room for position gains there.

— Ryan Newman ($7,300): This pick is MAJORLY sketchy because Newman will drop to the rear due to an engine change (and you won’t get credit for him starting there). However, he technically starts 29th and I think he can rally for a top-15 finish even after starting in the rear. I need those points if so.

— Michael McDowell ($5,900): I don’t feel great about this one at all, but the price was right. Maybe McDowell (starting 21st) can pull out a top-15 finish and make the gamble pay off with my top-heavy lineup.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR Advice For Daytona Coke Zero 400

Restrictor-plate races are so freaking hard to predict, which makes them fun to watch but agonizing when there’s money on the line.

So for those playing DraftKings this weekend — and there’s a $350,000 total payout contest, so that includes me — a bit of extra strategy is needed. I hopped on the phone with DraftKings’ Pearce Dietrich on Friday morning to go over some lineup ideas for the race.

“What I’m going to suggest is going to make people throw up a little bit,” Dietrich said. “Don’t even worry about the drivers or track history. If you look at the past leaderboards, you just pick guys from the back. It sounds crazy, stupid, ridiculous, but the best starting position on the optimal lineup in the Daytona 500 was 26th.

“You’ve got to take the guys at the back. It happens at every plate race. But no one wants to do it.”

Dietrich is right: It’s not exactly appetizing, but the best bet is to rely heavily on place differential. DraftKings scoring is plus or minus one point for every position gained, and laps led (0.25 points) and fast laps (0.5 points) just aren’t going to matter as much at Daytona. So it’s banking on drivers who qualify poorly but end up surviving the wrecks and finishing well.

The best possible lineup in the Daytona 500 was Ryan Blaney, AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Michael Waltrip, Brendan Gaughan and Kasey Kahne. At last summer’s Daytona race, it was Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Trevor Bayne.

Those lineups involved leaving lots of salary cap money on the table ($10,000 for the 500), but it doesn’t matter. Dietrich said to resist the urge to take drivers who start in the top half of the field.

“It’s like, ‘Yeah, right, you’re crazy, I’m picking Denny Hamlin because he’s good at the plate tracks,'” Dietrich said. “But that’s not going to win you $50,000.”

That’s why my lineup for Daytona is Landon Cassill, Ty Dillon, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler, Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Whitt — all of whom start 25th or worse. And even that might be a little too high in the lineup.

My lineup of Daytona drivers was $11,900 under the salary cap — which seems nuts, but that’s supposedly the right call.

“Even when people read this, it’s still going to be hard to leave money on the table,” Dietrich said. “But the facts are there. This is how you win. Do this for just one week only and go back to the normal strategy next week.”

 

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I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission. Disclosure No. 2: I might be America’s worst daily fantasy player.

Last race’s results: Played $8 MEGA Beast and finished 9,600th out of 47,000; won $12.

Season results: $38 wagered, $49 won in 12 contests.

This week’s contest: $9 Firecracker ($350,000 total payout).