DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Talladega playoff 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. Finished 650th of 1,300. Won $0.

Season results: $97 wagered, $104.50 won in 25 contests.

This week’s contest: Due to stupid Alabama law, I cannot submit an entry this week.

Talladega strategy: Don’t look at practice times, just look at qualifying and focus on place differential. In this year’s Daytona 500, the perfect lineup was made up of drivers who all started 30th or lower. Try to find drivers in the back of the field who can make up spots, regardless of how much salary cap money you leave on the table. It’s all about place differential.

Talladega picks: 

— Aric Almirola ($6,300): Since the start of last season, Almirola has the third-best average finish in restrictor-plate races of any driver (11.67, which is behind only Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). That makes him worth including, especially since he starts lower (26th) than other expert plate drivers.

— Michael McDowell ($6,000): He starts 29th in his first plate race since finishing fourth in the Daytona July race. He crashed in the Talladega spring race, but was 15th in the Daytona 500, 16th at Talladega on year ago and 10th in last year’s Daytona July race. Another good value pick.

— David Ragan ($5,800): A past Talladega winner who has finished 10th and sixth in his past two restrictor-plate races — and he starts 33rd? Put him on the team.

— Landon Cassill ($5,600): He starts 30th and his Talladega history in the last three years includes results of fourth and 11th (twice). Even if he gets a top 20, that’s picking up some decent points for you.

— Brendan Gaughan ($5,300): His three restrictor-plate races this season in the Cup Series include finishes of 11th and seventh. Pretty incredible value if he can do it again at Talladega after starting 35th.

— Cole Whitt ($5,000): He starts 38th, but that’s an opportunity. Before blowing an engine in the July Daytona race, Whitt’s previous restrictor-plate finishes were 16th (at Talladega in the spring), 18th (Daytona 500), 11th (July Daytona race last year) and 18th (Talladega spring race last year). So…hello!

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Charlotte playoff 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. Finished 850th of 1,200. Won $0.

Season results: $93 wagered, $104.50 won in 24 contests.

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

Charlotte strategy: Without reliable practice results to use for the race (both practices were washed out on Saturday), I’m relying heavily on position differential to get points. So that’s where most of these picks come from.

Charlotte picks:

— Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900): Picking Truex here this week works two different ways. First of all, he’s the best car every week and gives you a great chance to have fast laps and laps led. Second, he had an uncharacteristically mediocre qualifying spot — 17th — which offers an opportunity for easy place differential points.

— Joey Logano ($9,600): The decision here came down to Logano or Jimmie Johnson ($10,000). I couldn’t afford both. So I picked Logano because he’s $400 cheaper and has a slightly worse starting spot (28th compared to 25th for Johnson).

— Jamie McMurray ($8,800): Making this pick solely based on place differential opportunities compared to similar drivers at this price. McMurray qualified 18th and I figure he might get a top 10, so that’s worth the cost.

— Erik Jones ($7,900): Jones seems like the biggest no-brainer pick of the bunch this week, since he didn’t make a qualifying lap and will start 38th with one of the fastest cars.

— Ty Dillon ($6,700): This pick is just to make my lineup work. I looked for the cheapest driver who starts the furthest back with the most reasonable chance to gain spots. So that fell to Dillon, who starts 27th and is capable of a top-20 (his average finish this season is 20.9).

— Michael McDowell ($5,900): McDowell probably starts too high to make this a smart pick (16th), but the price is tough to beat. And compared to other drivers at this price range, it seems like the safest pick.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Dover

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 $1 Happy Hour contest. Finished 2,500th of 14,700. Won $1.50.

Season results: $89 wagered, $104.50 won in 23 contests.

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

Dover picks:

Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000): How can you leave Truex off your team these days? He piles up the laps led — which will be a big factor at Dover — and starts from the pole on Sunday. Oh, and he’s good here — he led 102 laps in the spring and 187 laps last fall en route to a win. Obviously, the other choice (and just as worthy) is Kyle Busch ($11,000).

Erik Jones ($8,600): I want as many of the top Toyotas on my team as possible, and Jones almost had a top-10 finish here in the spring until a last-lap wreck left him in 15th. I would have liked to pick Dover master Jimmie Johnson ($9,400), but he was too expensive for a No. 2 slot if I pick Truex.

Jamie McMurray ($8,100): McMurray has a favorable starting position for fantasy purposes (26th) and a good car to help you with place differential points. Plus he’s scrambling for a Round 2 playoff spot, so the team is going to be giving it everything they have after being fourth-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice. Another option at this price range is Ryan Blaney ($8,300).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,900): It’s scary to pick Dale Jr. because something always seems to go wrong for him this season, but he has a strong car and is feeling optimistic about a strong run. He starts seventh, which may be too high for fantasy purposes, but he offers a decent value at this spot for someone who could pull a top-10 finish.

Austin Dillon ($7,400): I’m shaky on this pick because Dillon doesn’t seem to have a great car this weekend. He was 24th of 32 drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps in final practice — and this after qualifying 23rd. Still, Dillon is on the cut line for the next round, so I assume he’s going to give it his best shot at a place where he has finished eighth and 13th the last two races.

Daniel Suarez ($6,900): This feels like a steal for another strong Toyota that could get a top-10 finish. Even though he starts too high (fifth) for place differential reasons, you’re not going to find another driver at this price with a better chance of turning in a solid fantasy points day.

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. Finished 185th of 1,200. Won $8.

Season results: $88 wagered, $103 won in 22 contests.

This week’s contest: $1 Happy Hour contest.

New Hampshire picks:

— Kyle Busch ($10,700): I’m pretty much in the habit of picking the polesitter every week now. It seems like the polesitter drives off and leads a large chunk of laps — sometimes the entire first stage — which will really add up with the amount of laps available at New Hampshire.

— Joey Logano ($8,700): Expensive pick, but he starts last and will gain you a lot of points as he works his way up through the field. Even if he finishes 15th, that’s a lot of points from position differential.

— Ryan Blaney ($8,000): Though his starting position is too high (fourth), there’s a chance he could lead a chunk of laps. He had the fastest 10-lap average in final practice — which was closest to race conditions — and has shown good speed all weekend.

— Erik Jones ($7,800): Toyotas still seem fast every week, so I like to try and get them into the lineup however possible. Jones was the second-fastest non-playoff driver in 10-lap averages for final practice (12th overall); his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez was the other one (sixth overall). So I picked both.

— Daniel Suarez ($7,500): See above.

— Austin Dillon ($7,000)I only had $7,300 left, so it was a tough choice here. I would have loved to pick Kasey Kahne ($7,400), since it seems like he is having a good weekend — but I was $100 short. So it was tempting to go with Ryan Newman ($7,200), since he’s had a lot of success at a track where he also runs the Modified race. But Dillon has seemed to have speed lately and was 19th in 10-lap average for final practice, so perhaps he can provide decent value here.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR Picks: Chicago

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. Finished 1,080th of 2,100. Won $0.

Season results: $84 wagered, $95 won in 21 contests.

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

Chicago picks:

— Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700): I expect him to lead laps and have a top-three finish, as he’s done so often this season. There’s no reason to think anything will change now, so Truex is being chosen as a hammer here.

— Kyle Busch ($10,600): Fastest in final practice. Fastest qualifying lap in relation to the rest of the field in years. Second-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice. Busch figures to dominate much of the race, perhaps leading every lap in the first stage, for starters. Take the points.

— Daniel Suarez ($7,800): I’m going with another Toyota, because it’s an intermediate track and there’s no reason to think their performance will suddenly drop off. Suarez is the cheapest top-running Toyota car; qualified 13th and had the 11th-fastest 10-lap average in final practice.

— Kasey Kahne ($7,700): The Hendrick cars don’t look great so far this weekend, and it’s not a good sign to see Kahne qualify 25th. However, that gives you an opportunity for place differential should he move up into the top 15 — which, let’s face it, needs to happen for his continued playoff chances.

— Austin Dillon ($7,300): Dillon is looking strong this weekend. He had the second-fastest single lap in final practice and was sixth in 10-lap average, which makes him a great bargain for this price. He starts a little high for fantasy purposes — ninth — but top-10 finishes at Darlington and Michigan show that he is running better lately.

— Michael McDowell ($5,800): Having Kyle Busch and Truex in the same lineup requires a deep cut somewhere. The good news for picking McDowell here is he qualified 30th, but has an average finish of 21.2 this year. Yes, he was slowest among all drivers in 10-lap average for final practice — NOT GOOD! But there’s a lot of potential positions to be picked up, which makes this a reasonable selection to help you with an expensive lineup.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Richmond

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. Finished 100th of 3,400. Won $15.

Season results: $80 wagered, $95 won in 20 contests.

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

Richmond picks:

— Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400): Oof. This was a tough call, because I ultimately had enough money under the salary cap to pick either Truex or Kyle Busch ($10,700) in this spot. I feel strongly Busch will have a great night (he has the best average finish of any driver at Richmond), but Truex should also run up front. So it’s really a toss-up here. I might even swap them at the last minute, as they were one-two in 10-lap average for final practice. Take your pick.

— Denny Hamlin ($10,000): The Toyotas are going to be strong, and I’m going all-in on that theory. My picks will be screwed if I’m wrong. In that sense, it came down to a decision between Hamlin and polesitter Matt Kenseth ($9,000). My tiebreaker for the slot was 10-lap average in final practice: Hamlin was ninth, Kenseth was 19th. But if you think Team Penske will have another strong Richmond performance, you could also pick Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano here (which was tempting).

— Erik Jones ($8,300): Like I said above, Toyotas figure to have a good night. Jones is one of the drivers who has to race his way into the playoff and will need the performance of his life to do so, but it’s possible. He wasn’t great in final practice and didn’t do 10 consecutive laps (he had a 60-minute penalty), but he was decent in first practice (eighth-fastest single lap).

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,800): My decision at this slot came down to Earnhardt or Kasey Kahne ($7,700), but Earnhardt actually might have a decent car this week (he estimated it was a sixth-to-12th-place car on Friday). He was 13th-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice and is obviously racing for a playoff spot for the final time in his career. Maybe there will be some magic.

— Daniel Suarez ($7,600): Again, it’s all about Toyota for my picks. I just envision them being strong here. If I’m wrong, it’ll cost me. But Suarez was sixth-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice and had the third-fastest single lap, so he may be good.

— David Ragan ($5,500): In order to make this expensive, Toyota-heavy lineup work, I needed a pretty cheap driver. I’m going with Ragan. He was 20th-fastest for 10-lap average in final practice and had the 14th-fastest single lap, which is very respectable. Plus, Ragan has three top-five finishes at Richmond — his best non-plate track.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Darlington Southern 500

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: $76 wagered, $80 won in 19 contests.

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

Darlington picks:

— Kyle Larson ($10,300): As you’ll see with these picks, I’m leaning heavily on 10-lap averages from Darlington practice. Single-lap speed doesn’t tell us much here — since the tires fall off so dramatically — so I want to pick cars that are good on the long run. Even though Larson hits the wall a lot at Darlington, he was fastest in 10-lap average for final practice (out of 26 cars), which I will take as a good sign.

— Denny Hamlin ($9,900): Hamlin was fastest in 10-lap average for the first practice and then dropped to fifth in final practice — but it was notable that his fastest run was from laps 21-30 during that session. That shows his team made positive changes and was getting faster. Hamlin also happens to be excellent at Darlington: His average finish is 6.3, which is the best of any driver and his personal best at any track.

— Jamie McMurray ($8,500): McMurray was eighth-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice and has been a pretty consistent top-10 car all season long. He looks like a solid choice for another good run on Sunday. This was a tough call, as Clint Bowyer ($8,400) also seems like a solid pick at this price range (Bowyer was ninth-fastest in 10-lap average and starts 16th, which is 11 spots further back than McMurray).

— Kurt Busch ($8,200): Aside from winning the Daytona 500, it hasn’t been a very good season for Busch (only two top-five finishes since then). So why would Darlington be any different? Well, Busch had two solid practices — he was third-fastest in 10-lap average for both sessions — before qualifying seventh. That could translate into a good Southern 500 performance.

— Kasey Kahne ($7,500): I’m not sure if I’m talking myself into this one or it’s really true, but the Hendrick Motorsports cars looked pretty decent in practice despite a poor team-wide qualifying effort (the top qualifier was Jimmie Johnson in 18th). So although Kahne starts 23rd, he was the fastest Hendrick car in final practice (ninth in single-lap speed) after being sixth in the first practice. That’s good speed for this price, although Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,600) is another viable option in this range if you’re willing to gamble that his slump will suddenly end.

— David Ragan ($5,600): If you’re looking for a bargain, I’m going with Ragan this week. Ragan’s 10-lap average was 16th of 26 cars in final practice, which puts him just behind Joey Logano and ahead of drivers like Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon. He starts 26th, which is three spots higher than his season average. Compared to other options in this price range, Ragan’s prospects appear pretty decent.