NASCAR is back at a 1.5-mile circuit for Sunday’s Quaker State 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1) at Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky is a smooth race track that doesn’t produce much tire wear, similar to both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, which have hosted three combined races this season.
With plenty of 1.5-mile data to pull from, we’ll have a better-than-normal grasp of the field despite a lack of practice times. The starting lineup is set, so let’s dive into the top DFS plays of the slate.
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NASCAR at Kentucky DraftKings Dominator DFS Picks
Kyle Busch starts on the pole for today’s race and has an outstanding record at Kentucky. However, he’s struggled in 2020, with his best finishes coming at high tire wear tracks. Kentucky, having been repaved in 2016, is not as abrasive on tires as Atlanta, Auto Club, or Darlington.
While I do think he can lead the early laps by simply starting out front, I don’t expect him to be the best car on the track. I’d look to be underweight on Busch, but still playable in a multi-entry portfolio.
Martin Truex Jr. will also be a popular pick at a modest $9200 price tag. He has two wins since the repave, which will also elevate his ownership. However, I like being underweight on Truex as well. He has struggled a bit in 2020, and while he was tops in average green flag speed at the first Charlotte race and Atlanta, those two races have some caveats.
The first Charlotte race was a night race and Atlanta is a high tire wear track. Truex’s two Kentucky wins were also at night. This is now a day race, so it could hurt him. His day/night splits at 1.5-mile tracks are statistically significant.
Instead, here are some other drivers to look at regarding dominator points.
Chase Elliott ($10,500): Elliott has been the most consistent driver at the 1.5-mile quad- and tri-oval tracks this year. His average green flag speed rank is tops among all drivers. His worst ranking of fifth came at the high tire wear track of Atlanta, so we can discount that one.
Chase starts in eighth, so there’s some place differential potential here too, even if he doesn’t quite dominate.
Ryan Blaney ($9800): Like his friend Elliott, Blaney has also excelled at the 1.5- to 2-mile tri- and quad-ovals. He ranks second in average green flag speed at these tracks, and had potential top-two finishes or even wins taken away at Las Vegas and Auto Club Speedway due to bad luck.
Blaney starts 11th, so he will have a nice DFS day if he finishes in the top five. He has finished top five in three of the four 1.5-mile races, and could have won the other race he didn’t finish in the top five.
Beside the four mentioned above, here are six more drivers who have dominator potential in decreasing order of preference: Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch.
NASCAR at Kentucky DraftKings Value DFS Picks
William Byron ($8600): Byron might be the best play on the slate, but could have slightly dampened ownership with both Erik Jones ($8400) and Tyler Reddick ($8200) cheaper options also starting within five spots of him. Byron had problems at Atlanta, but since it’s the highest tire wear track of the four races we’re considering, we can discount that.
In the other three 1.5-mile races, his average green flag speed is tops among all drivers. He hasn’t had the finishes to show for it, which may also depress his ownership, but speed will eventually translate to results.
Jimmie Johnson ($8800): Johnson will be even lower owned than Byron since he’s more expensive and starts one spot ahead. But he’s been just as impressive as Byron at the non-Homestead 1.5-mile tracks.
His worst finish is 11th and his average green flag speed rank is seventh, which improves to fifth with Atlanta removed. He has top-five finishes at Las Vegas and Charlotte. Another top five would be a massive point haul from his 20th-place starting position.
Austin Dillon ($6500): Dillon is priced as the 24th-highest driver this weekend by DraftKings. However, his average green flag speed at the four 1.5-mile non-Homestead races is 12th. If we remove Atlanta, that improves to 11th, with no single race outside the top 14.
His worst finish on the year at these tracks is 15th. With a 19th-place starting position, Dillon’s ownership won’t be through the roof.