Welcome back for our fourth week of DFS NASCAR! This article will once again focus on the rules of fantasy NASCAR on DraftKings and breakdown what’s important to pay attention to. Following that, we will dive into strategy for this week. Our goal is to pick the drivers who we anticipate will perform strong, regardless of where they finish. Tomorrow we are going to try a #AskDFSReport question time from 12:00 to 1:00 PM EST time before the race tomorrow. Please ask any questions you may have at this time.
What’s important to know:
Final Position: This is the easy one. The higher your driver finishes, the more points you receive. A 1st place finish receives 46 PTS, while 43rd will receive 1 PT.
Fastest Laps: Each time your driver runs the fastest lap, you will receive +0.5 PTS. Your driver, while unlikely, will have the potential to earn a maximum of (0.5) X (# of laps in the race) PTS.
Laps Led: For each lap your driver leads, you will receive +0.25 PTS. It’s as simple as that.
Pass Differential: This one will be a bit tricky. For each pass your driver makes, he/she will receive +0.25 PTS. In turn, for each time your driver loses a position, he/she will lose -0.25 PTS. This will NOT be scored on a lap-by-lap basis but on a pass-by-pass basis. So, if your driver goes back and forth battling for a position multiple times during a lap, the scoring WILL account for that. I don’t see this category having a major impact on which drivers you should select, however, it’s something we have to be aware of.
Place Differential: Place differential will be determined by the difference from where your driver starts, to where he/she finishes. So, if your select driver starts 1st, he/she cannot have a positive place differential. (Example: if your driver qualifies 20th and finishes 10th, he/she will have receive +10 PTS for a positive 10 in the place differential category). Note: If your selected driver has to go to the back at the start of the race for any reason (backup car, engine change) he/she will still maintain the position he/she qualified, for fantasy purposes.
JEFF GORDON 6/1
KEVIN HARVICK 6/1
MARTIN TRUEX JR 6/1
KURT BUSCH 6/1
AJ ALLMENDINGER 8/1
JIMMIE JOHNSON 10/1
CARL EDWARDS 12/1
CLINT BOWYER 15/1
TONY STEWART 18/1
JOEY LOGANO 20/1
KASEY KAHNE 20/1
JAMIE McMURRAY 20/1
KYLE BUSCH 20/1
BRAD KESELOWSKI 30/1
PAUL MENARD 40/1
GREG BIFFLE 40/1
RYAN NEWMAN 40/1
DALE EARNHARDT JR 40/1
MATT KENSETH 60/1
DENNY HAMLIN 60/1
KYLE LARSON 80/1
CASEY MEARS 100/1
AUSTIN DILLON 100/1
DANICA PATRICK 100/1
SAM HORNISH JR 100/1
BORIS SAID 100/1
ARIC ALMIROLA 200/1
DAVID RAGAN 200/1
JUSTIN ALLGAIER 300/1
HUGE shoutout and thanks to my friend, Tyler Salisbury for providing the above statistics on Sonoma and contributing to the article throughout!
Side note: if you’ve never seen a race here, you’re in for a treat.
From here, we will dive into the analysis for this week’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 Drivers will be broken down by:
(1) GREEN FLAG: must play in all formats
(2) YELLOW FLAG: GPP plays, come with some risk)
(3) RED FLAG: avoid these drivers
(4) WHITE FLAG: My extreme value play for the week
(5) CHECKERED FLAG: My pick to win the race.
Jeff Gordon ($11,300): Okay, we’ll get the obvious one out of the way. Jeff Gordon is the most successful driver of ALL TIME at Sonoma Raceway with 5 wins, 14 top 5’s, and an average finish of 7.95 in 22 races. Combine this with the narrative that it’s his last race at Sonoma (which he was quite emotional about by the way) and I think that if you’re planning on winning a GPP this weekend, he HAS to be in your lineups. Yes, he’s likely going to be the highest-owned driver but I think you’d be crazy to fade him–unless you have multiple entries in GPP’s. Of course, there’s always the risk of a spin-out/crash for anyone but those are risks we really can’t factor in when making our picks. Gordon has finished no worse than 6th in the past 5 races, and finished 2nd 3 times in those 5. My thoughts? Jeff Gordon will win the race on Sunday and ride out in style.
Sam Hornish Jr. ($7,600): Hopefully you didn’t stop reading because “oh this guy just recommended the obvious top play — even I can do that” because having success in DFS NASCAR is SO much more than picking the drivers who will finish the highest. There are a couple reasons to be excited about Hornish Jr. right off the bat. #1? He was top 10 in BOTH practices this weekend, placing 3rd quick in the first and 8th in final practice. #2? Place differential: We are always looking for potential for a positive place differential and Hornish Jr. is an an excellent spot for a solid postive (+) differential on Sunday. He’s raced here 3 times with little success but that last start was in 2010. His last two road course starts (both at Watkins Glen) were fruitful with a 14th (Fall 2010) and 5th in his last start (Fall 2012), respectively. His average road course finish in 7 total races is 27.43 but I’m willing to take a small risk at his price point. You will be hard-pressed to find a driver with higher upside than Hornish Jr. ESPECIALLY at this price.
Tony Stewart ($9,400): Let’s start with the positives: Vegas has Stewart as 18/1 odds to WIN the race–the highest we’ve seen him in quite awhile. In 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races at Sonoma, Stewart has 2 wins, 5 top 5’s, and 9 top 10s. Since starting his own team and running his own #14, Stewart has 2 top 5s (two 2nd place finishes), and an additional top 10 in 6 races. Stewart’s got the skill to race here, and trust me, that sort of skill is so important in being successful at road courses. However, I’m extremely weary of his equipment and he was pretty slow in final practice at 26th quickest. I’m torn here. Vegas likes Stewart so I can’t say you’re wrong to pick him. But he’s certainly a GPP-only play as there’s no way to trust him in cash games–especially with his high starting position & increased potential for a negative place differential. Insert Stewart into a few GPP lineups, but I’d certainly limit the exposure to him as he just doesn’t seem to be the same driver he once was.
Kyle Larson ($10,000): You may have seen that Kyle Larson set the lap record during qualifying this weekend at Sonoma during round 1. He was 4th quickest out of 12 in round 2 and will therefore start in the 4th position. Unfortunately, that leaves him with a lot of room for a potential negative place differential. He’s only raced here once, where he finished 28th. Chip Ganassi Racing earned a top 5 last year when Jamie McMurray took 4th. Take away that one race and they haven’t seen much success at all as one of their next highest finish was back in 2011 when McMurray finished 15th. Larson is a very skilled driver and has the potential to surprise some people this week but I think he’s too much of a risk all things considered and I’ll have very limited exposure to the driver of the #42 on Sunday.
Matt Kenseth ($10,900): There is…well…really nothing to like about Kenseth this week. Since he began his career in 1998, his worst track (as far as average finish) is Sonoma. He’s raced here 15 times with only ONE top 10 finish. Yikes. He”ll start 3rd on Sunday which screams negative place differential. I would not recommend Kenseth in ANY format on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin ($11,000): Hamlin pretty much has the same story as Kenseth, except he’s only been in the NSCS circuit since 2005. Sonoma is also his worst track, with an average finish of 23.22 in 9 races. He starts 15th on Sunday and as far as place differential goes: he’s only finished better than 15th 3 times, back in ’06, ’07, and ’09. His best finish since then? 23rd in 2013. There’s better ways to spend $11,000 of your salary. I do not recommend Hamlin in ANY format on Sunday.
Cole Whitt ($7,100): Okay, let me start with this: There are very few “white flag” drivers I like this week, and none that I love. BUT, Cole Whitt is minimum-priced and he has 4 career road course starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2 @ Watkins Glen & 2 @ Road America) where he’s averaged a 12.25 finish including 2 top 10s. Whitt was 17th quickest in final practice and is worth a flier at his price to help you build your team around top drivers.
You already know 🙂 Jeff Gordon wins this Sunday.
DraftKings is paying out almost $175K in guaranteed contests this Sunday including the $10K Lead Lap ($100 entry), $50K Victory Lane ($27 entry), and $60K Slingshot ($3 entry). Oh, and next Sunday? There’s the $250K Pedal to the Metal where $100K will go to first place. So, practice now!!
Best of luck