The second drafting race of the NASCAR Cup Series season fires off later Sunday’s afternoon.
The Ambetter 400 will have plenty of unknowns, as teams and drivers adapt to the second year at the new Atlanta Motor Speedway.
For cash games, the ideal strategy at these tracks is always to take the good cars starting in the back. Some examples this week would be Ty Gibbs, A.J. Allmendinger, and Martin Truex, Jr. Cash-game drivers all make fine tournament plays, they’ll just be on the chalky side.
In addition, for tournament purposes, all the big names are in play this week, as the draft is the great equalizer and the bigger names and cars certainly have a chance to lead, and win.
As such, I’ll just give my low-percentage tournament picks this week. Drafting races, which have a large degree of uncertainty, present the perfect opportunity to get contrarian, which is why I’ll just be focusing on the lower-owned plays for tournament picks.
Before we jump into my picks, don’t forget all my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running 10,000 race simulations.
Here are my NASCAR DFS picks for Sunday’s Ambetter 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Atlanta DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Ryan Preece ($6800): Preece is flying under the radar this week after a slow start to the season. But the draft is the great equalizer, and Preece is a solid drafter.
Preece has five top-10 finishes in 12 career drafting-track starts, including two top-five results. And those came when he was with JTG Daugherty Racing, which doesn’t have nearly the level of equipment as Stewart-Haas Racing.
My model projects him for 14% ownership, but I think he’ll be even lower played than that. Optimally, he ends up in the winning lineup 17% of the time, and even more when you factor in other non-winning, but still-cashing lineups in the big tournaments.
Noah Gragson ($5500): Gragson will probably be overlooked for more-heralded drafting drivers in his price range either starting just in front of him (Justin Haley) or behind him (Ricky Stenhouse, A.J. Allmendinger, Corey LaJoie).
But Gragson is a solid drafter as well, and he’s driving for a team that led at both Atlanta races last year. Teammate Erik Jones had one of the better drafting cars last year, and with the amount of uncertainty this race presents, I’m happy to take a flier on a very talented driver who should be under 10% rostered.
Daniel Suarez ($7800): Suarez has become a better and better superspeedway driver, and was my Paul Menard Pick of the Week for the last drafting race, the Daytona 500. In that race, he ended up in the million-dollar tournament lineup.
So I’ll go back to the well here with Suarez, who I’m projecting for slightly lower usage than his Perfect%.
Atlanta DraftKings DFS Paul Menard Pick of the Week
Chris Buescher gets the PMPOTW treatment this week.
Buescher should not be rostered in a ton of your lineups, but I certainly don’t mind if you play him about 12-15% in a multi-entry portfolio.
Buescher and teammate Brad Keselowski were very strong at Daytona, combining to lead 84 laps with each over 30.
In addition, it’s always possible Buescher goes slightly under-rostered thanks to the struggles he and Keselowski had last year at this track. Neither driver had an average running position better than 15th in either race, and the best driver rating either achieved was just 74.7 out of a possible 150.
However, the Fords clearly have speed this weekend thanks to their 1-8 effort in qualifying. We’ll need Buescher to lead some laps and finish in the top five, but it’s not impossible.
If you believe in Buescher this week, PrizePicks has his fantasy score line set at 29.5 this week.