Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) is the site of Sunday’s fourth race of the season. LVMS is a 1.5-mile trioval, where tires won’t degrade as quickly as other 1.5-mile tracks like Atlanta or Homestead.
In 2021, several tracks used tired that were identical to the tires being brought to the track this year. We can rely on 2020 data that came from these tracks, as well as 2019 data from LVMS itself because the rules package was similar.
Las Vegas is traditionally a difficult track to pass the leader, and with only 267 laps, expect a two-dominator affair. Of course, nothing in NASCAR is 100 percent predictable. There is some chance this is a one- or three-dominator race, but two should be the expectation.
NASCAR at Las Vegas DraftKings DFS Dominator Strategy
As we talked about last week at Homestead, picking the dominators is of utmost importance to a successful DFS lineup. Homestead did throw us a bit of a wrench, with Chris Buescher dominating the early portion of the race. However, the cream rose to the top and the vast majority was still dominated by drivers from NASCAR’s biggest teams.
My model gives six drivers the bulk of the opportunity to dominate. A good rule to add to your optimizer is to guarantee we use at least one of the top six drivers in raw points upside. That group includes Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. Personally, I’d also add Alex Bowman to that list given his results on this tire combination in late 2020 (the second race at each of Kansas, Texas, and Las Vegas used this tire combination). P.J. Walsh is even betting on Bowman to win at very generous odds. That upside is why I’m adding him to my dominator pool, despite my model’s giving him slightly less upside than other top-tier drivers.
Brad Keselowski is another driver to consider. The 2012 series champion has wins in 2014, 2016 and 2018 at LVMS. However, 2016 and 2018 were under lower downforce rules. In those years, Keselowski averaged 47 laps led per race and an average of 37 fastest laps. However, using the current package he’s averaged less than five laps led per race and less than 10 laps led per race. I don’t mind throwing him in your dominator pool, but he probably shouldn’t be as highly owned as the industry thinks.
Las Vegas typically has two domintaors per race, so you’ll definitely need at least two top dogs. However, I have no problem using a driver outside the group of seven listed above as a second dominator. That means drivers like Keselowksi, William Byron, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch are most certainly in play as drivers you can use in your overall dominator pool. Just make sure to focus on the six drivers with the most raw upside per my model.
NASCAR at Las Vegas DraftKings DFS Picks
Cash Games: Today’s top cash game play is a driver that has burned a lot of DFS players so far in 2021. Erik Jones has plenty of safety built into a 29th-place starting position, while being priced at $7,100. My statistical model shows he has the seventh-highest median projection, which jump up to the second-highest projection when we consider drivers under $9000.
However, as Homestead showed, the Richard Petty Motorsports team is a big step down for Jones, which caps his upside. He’s purely a cash game play, and I do like being underweight on him in tournaments. His projected ownership of 29.5% far exceeds the probability that he ends up in the perfect lineup. My model gives him a Perfect% of only 18.7 percent.
Tournaments: If we look at only 1.5-mile tri- or quad-ovals from the 2020 season, Cole Custer stands out as a driver that is severely underpriced at only $6,500. He had only one finish worse than 19th (a DNF at the first Texas race) and three finishes inside the top 12 in 10 races. That upside includes a win at Kentucky, plus a seventh-place finish at in Kansas — LVMS’s closest comparable track.
Custer starts in the 20th position and doesn’t come with exorbitant ownership expectations. My model probably is a bit too low on his expected ownership, expecting him to be used in about 17% of lineups. That said, it’s probably not extremely far off as DFS players will also consider Jones, Corey LaJoie, Daniel Suarez, Anthony Alfredo, Chase Briscoe, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain and Buescher for their lineups, with each priced under $7,500.
Fade: Kurt Busch ended up in last week’s winning lineup in a very fluky manner. The Chip Ganassi driver had to pit late in the race for a loose wheel, which allowed him to grab 31 total fastest laps. Those 31 fastest laps netted him nearly 14 DraftKings points, which was enough to add to a solid but unspectacular eighth-place finish. Yes, Busch won the most recent trip to his hometown track, but that was definitely an exception to the rule for him.
Busch barely cracked a driver rating of 100 in a winning effort, which shows he was mediocre most of the race, as his 13th-place average running position demonstrates. If DFS players look at his win, and his result from last week, they will be misled.
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Pictured above: Kevin Harvick
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