The first two races at Darlington went off without any major hitches, and that allowed DFS players to dip their toes into a bit of a time crunch with the quick turnaround between races. Hopefully you enjoyed that rush because this weekend at Charlotte is going to be even worse.

If you’ve played DraftKings for any amount of time, you know how important starting positions are when building your lineups, as place differential is a major factor in the scoring of these Fantasy NASCAR contests. Well, this weekend, the Cup Series is actually going to qualify the cars, but it’s not going to happen until 2:00 pm ET on Sunday. The scheduled lock for DraftKings is 6:00 pm ET. So by the time qualifying is overwith, we’ll probably have about 2.5 hours to get lineups done. Let the fun begin.

Click here for the starting lineup for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on Sunday evening.

The Fastest Cars in 2020 + at Other 1.5-Mile Tracks

Chase Elliott Ryan Blaney 2019 Fantasy NASCAR
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

If you’ve paid attention over the years, you know that when it comes to the early races in a season, the organizations that have an advantage in speed typically keep that advantage until we have about 10-12 races complete. I see no reason why that wouldn’t be the case this weekend, too, even though this schedule is a bit screwy with the coronavirus stuff going on.

We now have five races down since Daytona, so let’s take a look at the top speed rankings since then. We’re going off of green flag speed here and just averaging each driver’s rank from the following races: Las Vegas, Fontana, Phoenix, Darlington, and Darlington 2.

  1. Chase Elliott (3.6)
  2. Kevin Harvick (6.2)
  3. Alex Bowman (6.4)
  4. Brad Keselowski (7.0)
  5. Martin Truex, Jr. (7.0)
  6. Joey Logano (7.8)
  7. Aric Almirola (9.0)
  8. Kurt Busch (11.6)
  9. Clint Bowyer (11.8)
  10. Kyle Busch (12.2)

A couple notables not on that top 10 list are Jimmie Johnson (13.0 average) and Denny Hamlin (13.2 average). Johnson has had fast race cars but has had bad luck at times, and Denny Hamlin ranked 3rd- and 4th-fastest in green flag speed in the two Darlington races, so that #11 team is trending upward (as is Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole).

We can also look at the drivers who had the best green flag speed at Las Vegas earlier this year, as that is a 1.5-mile track similar to Charlotte. I have included their finishing positions in parenthesis after:

  1. Ryan Blaney (finished 11th)
  2. William Byron (finished 22nd)
  3. Joey Logano (finished 1st)
  4. Chase Elliott (finished 26th)
  5. Kevin Harvick (finished 8th)
  6. Alex Bowman (finished 13th)
  7. Jimmie Johnson (finished 5th)
  8. Martin Truex, Jr. (finished 20th)
  9. Kyle Larson (finished 9th)
  10. Brad Keselowski (finished 7th)

Remember, the Las Vegas race was the one with that late caution that screwed everything up and stole a victory away from Ryan Blaney. If you want to view the full green flag speed chart from that race, you can do so by clicking here. Another statistic to consider from that race is Fastest Drivers Late In A Run, which saw William Byron on top of that chart with Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Jimmie Johnson rounding out the top 5. Click here for that full chart.

The final statistic I like to consider for a race like Charlotte is how drivers perform on 1.5-mile tracks in general. The current 1.5-mile tracks are: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicagoland, Homestead, Kansas, Kentucky, Las Vegas, and Texas. Looking at the average finishes on that track type in 2019 plus the first Las Vegas race this year, the top finishers are:

  1. Kevin Harvick (8.3 average finish)
  2. Joey Logano (8.7 average finish)
  3. Martin Truex, Jr. (8.8 average finish)
  4. Alex Bowman (9.6 average finish)
  5. Kyle Busch (10.1 average finish)
  6. Denny Hamlin (12.2 average finish)
  7. Chase Elliott (12.8 average finish)
  8. Clint Bowyer (12.9 average finish)
  9. Aric Almirola (13.0 average finish)
  10. Erik Jones (13.0 average finish)

DraftKings Strategy for Charlotte on Sunday

This is a 600-mile race–the longest of the NASCAR season–that we have to run on Sunday night, which means having the main dominator in your lineup is going to be very important. At a track like Charlotte, 600 miles equals 400 laps, which means there’s probably going to be one or two drivers that are out front for 100+ laps. We can kind of guess who that is most likely to be based on early season speed, but having a starting lineup definitely helps narrow the drivers down.

If you’re a believer in patterns, we’re due for a complete domination in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 2018, Kyle Busch led 377 of the 400 laps, while his now teammate, Martin Truex, Jr., did the same thing in 2016, leading 392 of 400 laps. Both of them started on the pole and ended up in victory lane. Last year, we had a mix of dominators, with Truex (116 laps led) and Kyle Busch (79 laps led) leading the way, and in 2017 it was Truex (233 laps led) and Kyle Busch (63 laps led) who were out front the most. Sensing a pattern here?

Still, the top strategy in a long race like this is to get at least two potential dominators in your lineup, if not three. There are some great value plays in DraftKings this week, particularly in the sub-$10,000 range.

Drivers Most Likely to Dominate

The Hendrick Chevrolets starting out front have to be the favorites to dominate this race on Sunday. I give a slight nod to Jimmie Johnson ($9,200) because he starts 2nd, but Chase Elliott ($9,700) is starting in 3rd. Remember, Elliott had the dominant car at Las Vegas earlier this year but ran into mechanical issues. The guy that could throw a wrench into all of this, though, is the pole sitter, Kurt Busch ($8,700), who was surprised by his pole run after qualifying. I just don’t see Kurt dominating this race, and I think once he loses the lead, he won’t see it again.

Other than the Hendrick Chevrolets, there’s a decent chance that Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,600) could dominate on Sunday night. He’s a three-time winner at Charlotte and has led 90+ laps in five of the last eight races here.

GPP / Tournament Plays I Love for the Charlotte Coca-Cola 600

Ryan Newman 2019 Fantasy NASCAR Acorns
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Ryan Blaney ($8,100) – Tonight is a great night for pivots. With Aric Almirola ($7,500) and Matt DiBenedetto ($7,200) having such awful performances in qualifying, they’re the chalk picks for the night. So what I like to do in this situation is, instead of going with both of the “no-brainer” picks, I like to pivot to a different driver for one of them and hope that the high-owned driver has issues. Blaney is priced higher than both Almirola and DiBenedetto and because of that should garner a lower ownership percentage. If you remember back to Las Vegas, Blaney had the fastest car there but lost the race due to a late caution. Hopefully he can find that speed back under the lights tonight.

Ryan Newman ($6,500) – I like Newman as a pivot off of the chalk in this price range. He posted top 15 finishes in both Darlington races–the first ones since his horrific wreck at Daytona–and here at Charlotte, “The Rocketman” has five top 10 finishes in the last nine races. Getting a potential top 10 finish out of a driver in this price range is pretty solid for DraftKings. In terms of green flag speed at Las Vegas, Ross Chastain was in this #6 Ford for that race, and ranked 15th-fastest in that category.

Charlotte Coca-Cola 600 DraftKings Projections

The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems. Also included are projected laps led for each driver. This doesn’t take into account fastest laps. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverStarting PositionDraftKings SalaryAvg Proj FPTSAvg. Projected FinishProj Laps LedDollar Per FPT
Kevin Harvick22$11,20069.403.436$161
Alex Bowman12$9,40057.804.644$163
Chase Elliott3$9,70054.705.270$177
Aric Almirola40$7,50054.414.80$138
Kyle Busch11$11,50052.506.441$219
Jimmie Johnson2$9,20051.408.688$179
Martin Truex Jr8$10,60049.504.425$214
Ryan Blaney26$8,10047.411.60$171
Joey Logano7$10,00046.004.012$217
Denny Hamlin13$10,80043.407.23$249
Matt DiBenedetto33$7,20040.218.40$179
Brad Keselowski9$10,30039.907.810$258
William Byron10$9,00038.310.622$235
Clint Bowyer20$8,30037.613.20$221
Kurt Busch1$8,70035.908.834$242
Erik Jones14$8,50034.112.22$249
Ryan Newman18$6,50028.816.60$226
Chris Buescher19$6,70027.817.60$241
Cole Custer28$6,40026.822.60$239
Matt Kenseth4$7,70026.411.88$292
Daniel Suarez37$6,10025.427.80$240
Ricky Stenhouse Jr17$7,40022.619.20$327
Ryan Preece29$6,00022.225.40$270
Tyler Reddick5$7,90019.515.45$406
Ross Chastain21$6,90019.422.80$356
Bubba Wallace23$5,90019.024.00$311
Christopher Bell15$6,60017.420.80$379
John H. Nemechek25$6,30017.425.80$362
Michael McDowell27$5,60016.627.20$337
Joey Gase39$4,80015.034.00$320
Brennan Poole35$5,30014.632.20$363
Austin Dillon6$7,00014.018.00$500
JJ Yeley34$4,70013.232.40$356
Corey Lajoie24$5,40012.028.00$450
Quin Houff30$4,60012.031.00$383
Ty Dillon16$5,70011.224.40$509
Garrett Smithley38$4,90010.036.00$490
Gray Gaulding31$4,50005.834.60$776
BJ McLeod36$5,00005.637.20$893
Timmy Hill32$5,10004.435.80$1,159
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.