NASCAR heads to its second straight intermediate track for 400 miles at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Today’s Pennzoil 400 is the first race of the year where teams have had practice prior to the race, which gives us some extra data to work with.
Because of that, I think there could be some sneaky pivot plays in tournament formats as people overreact to practice data, so that’s where I’ll focus.
As usual, any cash-game play is perfectly fine to use in tournaments, just remember they will be on the chalky side.
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 Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Las Vegas DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
William Byron ($9100): I’m actually going to go against my model here, simply because I think it’s underrating Byron’s dominator potential.
Byron is cheaper than Joey Logano, and he had the better five- and 10-lap average in practice. He also had a smaller dropoff in time between the two averages, suggesting his tire wear isn’t as great as Logano’s. Lock him in as your cash-game dominator pick.
Tyler Reddick ($8800): Reddick is always solid at the intermediate tracks, especially ones with higher tire wear, and Vegas has trended in that direction in recent years as the track ages.
Reddick also did not complete a qualiyfing lap thanks to an engine change prior to practice, which means he’ll start 34th of the 36 cars. That makes him an automatic cash-game lock with a high floor and high ceiling.
Aric Almirola ($6400): Almirola was fast in practice, and had just 0.09 seconds of tire falloff between his five- and 10-lap average times. His qualifying lap left a bit to be desired, but he has a good car, as does teammate Kevin Harvick. Almirola should easily move up from his 21st place starting position at a nice cheap price.
Harrison Burton ($5600): By virtue of Burton’s wreck in practice, he becomes a pretty solid punt option in cash games. He should be faster than a few cars in front of him, which provides him with a nice floor. If this race happens to get a little crazy, then he has plenty of place differential potential. I also like how he opens up salary to grab another higher-priced option, compared to Ryan Preece ($7200) who starts 31st but didn’t show a ton of speed in practice. I’d rather go with the cheaper option here.
Las Vegas DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Christopher Bell ($9300): Bell had the smallest falloff between five- and 10-lap average times, which is especially appealing to me at a track that has shown it’s starting to pivot to high tire wear.
He probably won’t be high on anyone’s radar given his 10th-place starting position and his 19th-best 10-lap average. But that falloff of just 0.051 seconds is miniscule in comparison to polesitter Joey Logano, who lost 0.227 seconds over the extra five laps. Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney was much in the same boat, so I can’t chalk it up to just one bad lap. It seems like the Toyotas are more consistent, and Bell should fly under the radar.
The Toyotas were the dominant manufacturer at Las Vegas and Kansas last year. That was particularly true over the long run. I’m seeing much of the same here based off lap time falloff.
If you like Bell for tournaments, his PrizePicks line for Fantasy Score is set at 40.5 points.
Ross Chastain ($10,300): I fully expect people to be all over Logano, Byron, and Blaney, as well as last week’s winner Kyle Busch. Kyle Larson should also draw plenty of usage, while Bell, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex, Jr. all start farther back than Chastain.
That’s a great spot to once again get him at lower usage than expected. If you remember, I recommended him last week. Well, he came in at 9% and ended up in the winning lineup.
Chastain led more laps than any driver at both Vegas races last year, and he was on the lower end when looking at tire falloff, coming in just behind Byron among the Chevys.
Chris Buescher ($6900): Buescher’s starting position is in that perfect range for a driver under $8k where he’s not starting far back enough to feel comfortable with him being a safe play, but he’s still far back enough that he’s not a monstrous risk.
With Almirola, Preece, A.J. Allmendinger, Daniel Suarez, and Chase Briscoe all in his price range and starting behind him in solid equipment, Buescher should go underutilized in tournament formats.
I also like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in this price range, so it’s certainly possible to mix and match Buescher and Stenhouse in a multi-entry portfolio as contrarian plays in the $6-8k range.
Las Vegas DraftKings DFS Paul Menard Pick of the Week
My super low-owned play this week that I love this week is Bubba Wallace ($8300).
In this price range, Reddick starts in the rear so he will clearly be chalky. Alex Bowman has drawn a lot of plaudits for his performance at Las Vegas and Kansas last year, and is the defending Pennzoil 400 winner. Harvick was super fast in practice and starts one spot behind Wallace in the lineup. Austin Dillon has always been strong at Vegas and starts 26th, giving him plenty of safety that tournament players like, as it’s comfortable, but probably not as much upside. Josh Berry starts 32nd in Chase Elliott’s car, and Erik Jones starts 22nd.
All those drivers are within $500 of Wallace and have reasons that DFS players may gravitate toward them.
Meanwhile, Wallace was the fastest Toyota over five laps in practice, but did not make a 10-lap run in the session. If we judge his tire falloff in comparison to fellow Toyota drivers Bell or Ty Gibbs, it’s likely Bubba should be in the same boat.
Wallace won the Kansas playoff race last year, and he was the top-running Toyota before his now-infamous run-in with Kyle Larson at last year’s Vegas playoff race.
If Toyota is as strong as last year, he’ll be a contender for the top five, and maybe even a win, at a nice price tag.