2019 Daytona 500 starting lineup and what it means for DraftKings

Brad Keselowski is the most expensive driver heading into Sunday’s Daytona 500 — and he’ll start almost at the back of the field.

Is he worth the pick for your DraftKings lineups, given his upside for position differential? Well, you’d think he would be highly owned — given fantasy owners often don’t need to max out their salary cap to get a winning lineup at a restrictor-plate race. But at $10,600, your money might be better spent elsewhere if you’re looking for someone to fade.

The same could be said for Kyle Busch ($9,600), who is the seventh-most expensive driver. He’ll start below 30th, so he seems likely to gain a ton of spots in position differential. But you might need to fade him as well, depending on where you fall on strategy.

One thing to think about is this could be a Daytona 500 where one driver leads a ton of laps. Even though there aren’t many points available compared to a typical race in terms of laps led, there could potentially be a dominant driver if the race stays single file against the wall like it did in the Clash and both Duels. You’d think that driver would be one of the Fords — either from Penske or Stewart-Haas — but that doesn’t exactly narrow it down since so many of them start toward the front.

As for value picks? Brendan Gaughan ($6,000) isn’t bad, but people have caught on to his restrictor-plate prowess and he’s actually more expensive than 12 other drivers in the field.

Ty Dillon (10th in his Duel) seems to have a fast car and Matt DiBenedetto (fourth in his Duel) are both cheaper than Gaughan — but they’re starting too close to the front to capitalize on position differential. A real bargain could be Parker Kligerman, who is tied for the cheapest driver in the field at $4,500 — yet is a good plate racer and has potential to gain a ton of spots.

Here’s a look at the Daytona 500 starting lineup, with each driver’s DraftKings price in parentheses:

1. William Byron ($6,800)

2. Alex Bowman ($8,000)

3. Kevin Harvick ($10,200)

4. Joey Logano ($10,400)

5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($9,800)

6. Clint Bowyer ($9,900)

7. Paul Menard ($7,400)

8. Aric Almirola ($9,200)

9. Matt DiBenedetto ($5,900)

10. Denny Hamlin ($10,000)

11. Martin Truex Jr. ($8,800)

12. Kurt Busch ($8,700)

13. Bubba Wallace ($7,200)

14. Ryan Blaney ($9,000)

15. Chris Buescher ($6,300)

16. Jamie McMurray ($7,500)

17. Jimmie Johnson ($8,500)

18. Chase Elliott ($9,400)

19. Ryan Newman ($7,000)

20. Austin Dillon ($7,600)

21. Ryan Preece ($6,500)

22. Ty Dillon ($5,600)

23. Daniel Suarez ($8,400)

24. David Ragan ($6,200)

25. Parker Kligerman ($4,500)

26. Kyle Larson ($7,800)

27. Landon Cassill ($5,200)

28. Erik Jones ($8,200)

29. Daniel Hemric ($6,600)

30. Brendan Gaughan ($6,000)

31. Kyle Busch ($9,600)

32. Corey LaJoie ($4,900)

33. Matt Tifft ($5,000)

34. Michael McDowell ($5,900)

35. Brad Keselowski ($10,600)

36. Ross Chastain ($4,800)

37. Cody Shane Ware ($4,500)

38. BJ McLeod ($4,600)

39. Tyler Reddick ($5,100)

40. Casey Mears ($5,400).

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Martinsville

If you haven’t heard, DraftKings has extended the deadline for its Martinsville contest an extra 24 hours to reflect the race being postponed due to snow.

That means it’s not too late to make your picks. Here’s my team heading into Monday’s race:


— Kyle Busch ($11,000): The key for Martinsville is to have all the drivers who lead the majority of the laps on your team (because there are 500 available laps to lead, vs. 200 at a place like Fontana where position differential matters more). If you think Busch will be among the top lap leaders, pick him. But you’ll need two others in that category, too.

— Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700): He starts on the pole, so I can picture him leading much of the first stage. Truex may lose some spots in position differential later in the day, but I’m predicting he’ll make up for it in laps led. So he’s on the team.

— Brad Keselowski ($10,100): The third driver in my predicted trio of lap leaders is Keselowski. He had the fastest 10-lap average in final practice, followed by Busch and Truex. All three of those drivers start in the top four, giving them favorable track position to start the day. That’s why they’re in my lineup. It’s really up to you which three drivers will be your predicted lap leaders, though (and this is an expensive trio).


— AJ Allmendinger ($6,400): Now it gets harder. Because my lineup is so top-heavy, I need three cheap drivers to fill out the roster without losing too many spots. I’m picking Allmendinger because he ranks 10th in average finish among drivers with five or more Martinsville starts. Prior to a crash last fall, Allmendinger had four straight finishes of 11th or better there.

— Bubba Wallace ($6,200): Admittedly, this is a gut pick more than a statistical one. Wallace is making his first Cup start at Martinsville and was only 28th out of 35 drivers in 10-lap average for final practice (he was 26th in the first practice). So those aren’t great numbers. However, his four starts in the Truck Series at Martinsville were stellar: Fifth, first, second, first (in that order). Could his confidence there carry him to a surprising result on Monday?

— Ty Dillon ($5,600): This seems like a steal based on his practice speed. He was 15th-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice and seventh-fastest in the same category for first practice. However, he starts 32nd — which puts him in danger of getting lapped early. Perhaps there will be a competition caution in the first stage that would help the cause.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR Picks: Fontana

Here are some options to consider for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in California:

— Kevin Harvick ($11,500): He’s sooooo expensive. But can you afford to not take him? He’s been the fastest car all weekend, has won three races in a row and could easily dominate the race under the right circumstances Sunday. The question is whether you can build a solid lineup once he puts a major hit on your salary cap.

— Kyle Busch ($10,300): If you’re looking for an alternative to Harvick and think he might not lead 90% percent of the laps, Busch or Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800) are going to be your best options. It really comes down to whether you think a single driver will be able to crush the competition, because your lineup likely won’t have room for both of these guys.

— Jimmie Johnson ($9,000): This is a simple play. Johnson starts 33rd thanks to his failure to get on track for qualifying, so you’re hoping he can get you position differential points en route to a top 10 if you go with this option. Chase Elliott ($9,700) is a good alternative for the same reason if you can afford him over Johnson (likely comes down to whether you picked Harvick or Busch).

— Austin Dillon ($7,400): Dillon has been fast all weekend and this is a good price. He doesn’t have much of a ceiling because he starts fifth, but it’s a better bargain than taking Erik Jones ($8,200), who starts fourth. Dillon was fifth-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice (Jones was sixth).

— Daniel Suarez ($7,000): He starts 30th in a fast car (albeit a backup after crashing in practice on Friday), which is another chance for a good position differential play.

— Paul Menard ($6,800): The best bargain of the season seemingly every week so far is Menard, who comes at a cheap price but was 12th-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice. That’s a good deal at this range.

— Kasey Kahne ($6,100): I don’t feel great about Kahne’s chances this weekend, as the team has struggled throughout and he was only 23rd in 10-lap average for final practice. That said, he’s a patient veteran who should have the chance to get you a top-25 finish — which means some decent points for this price level after he starts 34th.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Las Vegas

DraftKings isn’t accessible from Nevada, where the casinos make sure you play there instead of online.

But even though I can’t play this week, that doesn’t mean you can’t. Here are some picks to consider when making your lineup:

— Kevin Harvick ($10,300): After winning Atlanta, Harvick looks fast again this week at Vegas. He had the second-fastest 10-lap average in final practice and had the fastest 15- and 20-lap average in numbers tweeted out by FOX Sports’ Darrell Waltrip.

— Kyle Larson ($9,800): Fastest in the January test session, where he and his team worked on their Vegas setup for two days. Then he put together the fastest 10-lap average for final practice. Larson is my pick to win the race and yet he’s only the fourth-most expensive driver.

— Denny Hamlin ($9,100) or Erik Jones ($8,300): Not sure who to go with here. Hamlin starts 19th, so you have position differential possibilities there (he was ninth-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice and fifth-fastest of eight drivers who made 20-lap runs). But Jones seems faster — he was eighth-fastest in 10-lap average and sixth in 15-lap average. The downside in picking Jones is he doesn’t always close out races and he starts 10 spots higher than Hamlin.

— Clint Bowyer ($8,100): Bowyer looked good at Atlanta, qualified 11th and had the 10th-fastest 10-lap average in final practice. He also comes at a very decent price.

— Ryan Newman ($7,100): Newman participated in the Vegas test session in January and was 11th-fastest in 10-lap average for final practice. His car seems better on short runs (he had the fifth-fastest single-lap speed Saturday) but the price is quite good here for a potential top-10 driver who starts 25th.

— Michael McDowell ($5,500): The new Front Row Motorsports driver showed up with speed this weekend. He had the ninth-fastest single lap in the first practice session Saturday, which is obviously far above what the team typically does. It makes me a little nervous to see him start 15th, because that could potentially cost you points if he doesn’t have a good race. But at this price, it’s hard to pass him up.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR advice for 2018 season

I’ve made my picks for Sunday’s free, $10,000-in-prizes DraftKings contest (the link to enter is here), but I’m certainly not an expert.

Actually, most of the tips I’ve picked up over the last year of playing fantasy racing comes from DraftKings expert Pearce Dietrich.

So I hopped on the phone with Dietrich again this weekend to get some more advice that I could pass along to you guys — not just for the 500, but for the season as a whole.

A few pointers:

When everyone else zigs, you zag. Don’t pick all of the obvious drivers for a couple reasons: 1) It’s unlikely to be the right lineup at a plate race and 2) Your lineup is going to be the same as everyone else’s.

For example: In the Duels on Thursday, 87 percent of DraftKings players picked Brad Keselowski. And then he wrecked.

“At the plate races, no one is safe,” Dietrich said. “Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson are going to be heavily owned in the 500. So you don’t want them in every lineup, because then all those lineups are dead if something happens.”

Look at the ceiling. The winning lineups at plate tracks need to have drivers who average 55 points for you. So a driver who starts in the top 11? Unless they lead a bunch of laps, it’s not worth it.

“Look at a guy like Darrell Wallace Jr.,” Dietrich said. “He’s a great story and might have a great race, but even if he finishes second, that’s not going to be enough points for you.”

It really comes down to position differential, which is why it’s more important than ever to pick drivers outside the top 30 at plate tracks.

“Gray Gaulding scored the second-most points at Talladega!” Dietrich said. “That is unbelievable. But only 12 cars finished on the lead lap. If it’s going to be a mess, play people in the back and hope they avoid the wrecks.”

If you think you have a great lineup, you’re probably not going to win.

“Your lineup should make you sick to your stomach,” Dietrich said. “It should not make you feel good.”

To wit: Last year’s best possible lineup for the 500 was Ryan Blaney, AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Brendan Gaughan and Michael Waltrip.

Some logical picks, to be sure. But would you have felt good about the lineup as a whole?

How about last fall’s Talladega race? The best lineup had Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, yes — but it also had Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, David Ragan and Gaulding.

“You may need to take a Corey LaJoie and a Gray Gaulding,” Dietrich said. “If they can just stay away from Ricky Stenhouse, maybe they can make it happen.”

For intermediate tracks, fast cars are fast. Most of the time, Dietrich said a fast car on a long run in practice is going to be the same in the race. It’s rare to see a guy practice in the middle of the pack and then get you points leading laps and running fast laps.

“Starting position doesn’t necessarily correlate as much, but practice speed does,” he said.

If two drivers are going to dominate the race and lead the most laps, you’ll need both of them in the lineup. If it’s three drivers, you need all three. Because if you don’t, someone else will. So you’ve got to predict correctly on that part.

Beyond the fastest cars, try to get a decent return out of every person. If you sacrifice too much — even for one spot by going with a super-cheap driver — it’s probably not going to be a winning lineup.

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.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Daytona 500

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.

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: 2018 Daytona Clash

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. Note: I am not an employee of
DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information…these are just my personal picks.

Last season’s results: $110 wagered, $104.50 won in 27 contests.

This week’s contest: $3 Hot Rod game (three entry max)

Clash strategy: With so few laps, there’s a premium on drivers who start toward the back of the 17-driver field. Go for position differential. That’s why most of my picks start outside the top 10.

Clash picks: 

— Brad Keselowski ($9,500): Maybe the best plate racer in the field AND he starts last? Yes, please.

— Kyle Busch ($8,800): Starts 13th and should finish in the top five if all goes well.

— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,400): A bit of a risk starting so high (eighth), but he clearly knows what he’s doing on plate tracks (won the July race here as well as Talladega spring race) and the Fords draft well.

— Ryan Blaney ($7,100): Again, the Fords draft well and he starts 15th out of 17 drivers. Easy call.

— Kurt Busch ($6,400): Defending Daytona 500 winners starts 14th and should move up. Take those positions for the points.

— Jamie McMurray ($6,200): Starts second-to-last and has four career plate wins (two at Daytona). Take him!