If you haven’t heard, DraftKings is running a free contest for the 500 this weekend. Yes, FREE — but with $10,000 in prizes (the top prize is $500).
Obviously, I’m going to play along with all of you. Here’s the link to the contest, if you’re interested.
Below are my picks. FYI: I get a commission from DraftKings, but I’m not an employee of DraftKings and don’t have any access to non-public info. These are just my personal picks.
Drivers to consider:
— Brad Keselowski ($10,400): Yeah, he’s expensive. And yeah, everyone else is going to pick him, too. But here’s the thing: Given how back he starts (31st), you can’t afford to pass him up if he gets 20-plus points through position differential. Anything can happen, but Keselowski’s plate-racing prowess makes him the anchor of any lineup.
— Kyle Larson ($9,300): The fourth-year driver’s name has been thrown around as one of those who is starting to figure out plate racing. Yes, he caused the crash in the Clash and then crashed again in the Duels. But given his starting spot (38th), there’s a lot of points to be gained there.
— Jimmie Johnson ($9,100): He seems to have trouble finishing plate races at times, so it’s worth making this pick with caution. But due to his 35th-place starting spot, it’s difficult to pass him up for another driver with a lower potential ceiling for points.
— Aric Almirola ($7,700): There was a lot to like about picking Almirola even before he crashed in the Duel and thus made for an attractive starting position (37th). He’s a good plate racer (and has won a Cup race here before) who will be driving the best car of his career on Sunday. And if your salary cap is tight for some reason (it shouldn’t be for a plate race, since picking the top drivers is ill-advised unless they have bad starting spots), the price is right for Almirola.
— Matt DiBenedetto ($5,400): The guy finished ninth in this race last year after starting 25th. It’s a new package, but he’s shown he can avoid trouble in a long race and survive. The fact he’s starting 36th after crashing in the Duel isn’t a bad thing for your lineup.
— Other potential big movers outside the top 25 include David Gilliland ($5,100, starts 39th) and Danica Patrick ($5,600, starts 28th). Or you could take a chance on William Byron ($7,300, starts 33rd) if you think the future star can make it through 500 miles of his first career Cup race unscathed.
Disclaimer: I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jeff_gluck) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.