I’m trying something new this week, so let me know what you think of it! We’re going to go through all 38 drivers in the field for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race and what I think of them in terms of DraftKings playability. Now, keep in mind that I am purely a GPP / tournament player, and a risky one at that. When I’m confident about a driver, I go super heavy, and when I see an opportunity to go against the crowd favorite that isn’t a “sure bet” in my head, I’ll do it. So just keep that in mind when reading these thoughts, and thank you for reading!
We’re at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend for the Dixie Vodka 400. Now, Homestead is a 1.5-mile race track, so you would think it would compare to venues like Las Vegas and Charlotte (which we’ve raced at in 2020), as well as Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, and others that make up the majority of the Cup Series schedule. But really Homestead is a big different: it’s not shaped like a “cookie cutter” track, and it’s one of those high wear tracks as well. So think Atlanta, where we raced at last Sunday–which is also a 1.5-mile venue–as well as Darlington and Fontana that we visited earlier this year. The other high wear track is Chicagoland (also a 1.5-mile).
Also click here to see my DraftKings projections for this race.
Homestead Dixie Vodka 400 Driver-by-Driver Breakdown
- Denny Hamlin ($10,400)
– There’s no doubt that Denny Hamlin will challenge for a top 5 finish on Sunday, since his results at the high wear tracks this season have been 6th, 5th, 5th, and 1st. But with DraftKings having him priced at $10,400, Hamlin is going to have to dominate a portion of this race, and I’m not sure I see that happening. Denny has a grand total of 19 dominator FPTS on the high wear tracks this season, which is a total of four races. Here at Homestead, Hamlin has started on the pole in five of the last six races now, and has 43 total laps led over the last five–41 of which came in the 2018 race. I’ll be underweight on Hamlin this weekend.
- Joey Logano ($10,700)
– I’m not going to go crazy with Joey Logano ownership this weekend, but I’ll probably overweight on the field with 15-20%. Joey is currently on a five-race streak of top 6 finishes here at Homestead, and in two of those five races he’s led 70+ laps. He’s also coming off of a race at Atlanta where he posted 23 fastest laps, and Logano is averaging the 5th-most fastest laps per race over the last four years here at Homestead. If Hamlin struggles from the beginning, which is what I expect will happen, Logano is in prime position to capitalize.
- Brad Keselowski ($9,500)
– Brad Keselowski is worth 10-15% of exposure this weekend, at least in my book. On the high wear tracks this season, he’s put up a total of 55 dominator FPTS over the four races, and he finished top 5 at both Fontana and at Darlington 2. What I don’t particularly like about Keselowski this weekend is the fact that he has just three top 5s in twelve career starts at Homestead, and a grand total of 107 laps led. I think he’ll run between 3rd and 8th for most of the day on Sunday, though, but it’s going to take some dominator points for Kez to make it into the optimal lineup with his salary what it is (although it is low).
- Kyle Busch ($10,100)
– Another guy under-priced on DraftKings this week is Kyle Busch, who is the most recent winner here and hasn’t finished worse than 6th since the 2014 season. Also, over the last five races here, Rowdy has led 226 total laps. With that being said, we haven’t quite seen the typical Kyle Busch domination at similar tracks this year, as he’s averaging just 4.2 total dominator FPTS per race over the seven events at high wear and 1.5-mile venues this year. The good news? Busch posted 13.75 dominator points at Atlanta last week, and has finished 2nd in three of the four high wear races this season. Harvick and Truex are my two most likely dominators on Sunday and both have plenty of exposure in my lineups, but Kyle Busch is close as well. As far as being over- or underweight in GPPS, I’m really not sure what to expect ownership percentage wise. His price is low enough that I could see it hitting 50%, but I wouldn’t go higher than 35-40%.
- Chase Elliott ($11,000)
– I like Chase Elliott as an overall Fantasy NASCAR pick on Sunday, but don’t love him in DraftKings. Here’s the thing: he hasn’t shown dominator potential on the high wear tracks this year, and he was a big disappointment starting on the pole at Atlanta last Sunday, only scoring 11.5 dominator FPTS. A price point of $11,000 and starting 5th makes dominator points a necessity when rolling with Elliott. He won’t be on many lineups for me.
- Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,400)
– Before Martin Truex, Jr got into elite equipment, Homestead-Miami Speedway was always his top track. And while he stumbled here a bit in his first few starts with Furniture Row Racing, Truex has now finishes 1st or 2nd in the last three Homestead races and led a total of 201 laps through those three events as well. As far as this weekend goes, this #19 team is coming off of their first win of the season, and Truex has always been streaky in his career. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won again on Sunday. Also, looking back at Atlanta last week, Martin actually had the best green flag speed, and he put up 42.75 dominator FPTS as well. Truex will likely be my highest-owned driver on this slate this weekend. I love that he has the first pit stall.
- Kevin Harvick ($11,800)
– It’s hard to envision this race ending on Sunday with Kevin Harvick not having a big score in DraftKings. He has six straight top 5 finishes at Homestead and has led at least 40 laps in five of those races. On the high wear tracks this season, he’s been dominant, averaging 34.9 dominator points per race and 83.4 DraftKings FPTS total per race. He’s the highest-priced driver on the slate but will also garner a high ownership percentage. There’s a strategy play there to go underweight on Harvick but I wouldn’t recommend it, although I’m sure there will be Single Entry contests that I exclude him.
- Alex Bowman (8,400)
– Bowman is listed as one of my favorite GPP plays this weekend, but I’m not going super overweight on him. Looking at similar tracks this season, he notched 60.5 dominator FPTS at Fontana, 34.25 at Darlington, 67 at Charlotte, and 26.75 at Charlotte 2. With Bowman starting 8th, he’s going to need to get up front and lead, though, because a simple top 5 finish isn’t going to get it done at this salary with so many place differential plays possible.
- Jimmie Johnson ($9,800)
– Jimmie Johnson is a sneaky play this weekend that could end up in the optimal lineup if he can grab some dominator points and lead a good portion of this race. His $9,800 price tag makes it a little difficult to comfortably fit Johnson into a lineup and think, “wow, this is good,” but he’s a decent pivot off of Kyle Busch or even Brad Keselowski. On the high wear and 1.5-mile tracks this year, Johnson has finished 8th or better in five of the seven races, and don’t forget he was leading at Darlington before basically wrecking himself. Personally, I won’t have much Johnson in my lineups this weekend, but if you have a good hunch about him, I can’t argue there. I wouldn’t go above 12-15% exposure, though.
- Kurt Busch (8,600)
– I wrote Kurt up in my projections (click here) article, and when I got done with my lineups I ended up with about 15% exposure. Like I said, I wouldn’t go crazy here. But I do think Busch is worth being in some lineups on Sunday considering he’s finished 6th or better in three of the four high wear races this season. This team is also rattling off single-digit finishes week in and week out right now.
- Ryan Blaney ($8,800)
– I wrote up Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman in my projections (click here) article this week but Ryan Blaney is still going to be my main play in this price range. Now, Blaney’s record here at Homestead isn’t great–his best finish so far is 11th–but momentum-wise, he has four top 5 finishes in the last five Cup Series races, and the only exception was Bristol, where he wrecked while running 2nd. Blaney recently finished 4th at Atlanta (another high wear track) and had one of the best cars at Fontana (also high wear) earlier this year before a late tire issue. I like having about 30-35% Blaney exposure on Sunday.
- Clint Bowyer ($9,000)
– Add Clint Bowyer to the drivers I don’t mind being overweight on here at Homestead on Sunday. Not only does he have finished of 6th, 8th, and 12th here over the last three races, but the #14 Ford has been really strong on the high wear tracks this season, including 29.5 dominator points last week at Atlanta and 41.75 dominator points at Darlington 2. With that being said, actually finishing races has been a struggle for Bowyer this season, so I’m not going to go crazy with my ownership.
- Chris Buescher (5,500)
– I have some Buescher exposure for Sunday’s race, but nothing crazy. Basically just lineups where I didn’t want to blindly roll with McDowell, and had enough cap space to get up to Buescher. Last November, Buescher had his best career finish here at Homestead (16th) and in the Fontana race this year, Buescher also came home 16th. I wouldn’t go more than 5% or so on Buescher ownership.
- Ryan Newman ($6,900)
– I’m so heavy on the next guy in line, as well as on a couple of others a little higher in the pricing structure, that it only makes since that I have extremely low Ryan Newman exposure for Sunday’s race at Homestead. With that being said, if I do end up making more lineups, I’m going to purposely include The Rocketman at about 10% or so. “Solid” is about the best word. to describe Newman since coming back, as he’s finished between 12th and 15th in five of the seven races, with the only exceptions being the two races at Charlotte. Now, Newman starts a little higher than I’d like on Sunday, but his price point is decent if he can pull off a top 10 finish. He wound up 7th here last November, for what it’s worth…
- Erik Jones ($6,500)
– My man! Like I said in my projections (click here) article, I love Erik Jones this weekend, and I’m typically overweight on him at most tracks. He came home 3rd here at Homestead last November and ranked 8th and 9th in Green Flag Speed during the two Darlington races this year. I’d be surprised if the #20 Toyota doesn’t challenge for a top 10 finish on Sunday, although you never know how this team will shoot themselves in the foot!
- Austin Dillon ($6,200)
– Here’s a pivot I love if you don’t want to go with Erik Jones (or Aric Almirola). Over the last five Homestead races, Austin Dillon hasn’t finished worse than 14th, and he came home with a career-best result of 8th here last November. Momentum-wise, Dillon had his issues at Martinsville, but he still has three finishes of 11th or better in the last four races. Looking at the recent high wear tracks, Austin finished 11th at Atlanta and then 11th and 20th at Darlington. I have about the same exposure of Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola heading into Sunday, for what that’s worth.
- Bubba Wallace ($7,600)
– We’ll see how much recency bias comes into play here since Bubba Wallace had such a great run at Martinsville on Wednesday night. As far as Homestead, though, I can’t see him being in the optimal lineup with a $7,600 price tag and starting up in 17th. At high wear tracks this season, Bubba finished 27th at Fontana, 21st at Atlanta, and then 21st and 16th at Darlington. Wallace might be able to come home with a top 20 finish on Sunday here at Homestead but that won’t be worth it in DraftKings. I have zero Bubba Wallace exposure with my lineups.
- John Hunter Nemechek ($5,300)
– If you’re looking to pivot off of Michael McDowell, a decent option is John Hunter Nemechek. With that being said, I wouldn’t go crazy. Nemechek finished 9th at Darlington, but his other high wear track races have ended with him in 25th, 23rd, and 35th. I’d be okay with about 5-10% JHN exposure on Sunday.
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,100)
– Hello pivot off of Reddick! Stenhouse is always a wildcard play and I’m going to put him on a handful of lineups (mid-teens ownership). Looking at similar tracks this year, Stenhouse came home 3rd at Las Vegas, 4th in the second Charlotte race, and 13th most recently at Atlanta. Here at Homestead, he’s finished 19th, 16th, and 15th in his last three attempts.
- Matt Kenseth ($8,200)
– Matt Kenseth deserves some exposure this week, and it should be pretty easy to go overweight on him–although I wouldn’t go crazy. He’s over-priced, but he’s in that same car that Kyle Larson has dominated Homestead with in the past, and Kenseth recently finished 15th at Atlanta and 10th at Darlington (other high wear tracks). Kenseth has finished 9th or better in eight of his last nine starts at Homestead.
- Aric Almirola ($6,300)
– My projections (click here) love Aric Almirola this weekend, probably in big part due to the fact that he has top 12 finishes at three of the four high wear races this season–8th at Fontana, 12th at Darlington, and 7th at Darlington 2. However, don’t forget that Almirola also started up front in those races. He pulled the 21st spot in qualifying for this race and should be able to contend for a top 15.
- William Byron ($7,800)
– William Byron has the potential to challenge for a top 10 this weekend and he starts back in 22nd, so he could very well end up in the winning lineup, but it’s just so hard to trust him. This year, he hasn’t finished better than 8th, but he has five results of 12th or better. On the flip side, he also has three finishes of 33rd or better. Looking at similar tracks, Byron finished 12th in the second races at Darlington and Charlotte and 15th at Fontana. I’ll have a little Byron exposure on Sunday but probably be underweight.
- Matt DiBenedetto ($8,000)
– Matt DiBenedetto should finish top 15 on Sunday at Homestead, but with his price tag this weekend, it’s going to take a top 10 run for him to make it into the optimal lineup. Is that possible? Absolutely, as we almost saw him do that at Atlanta last Sunday. Looking at similar tracks this year, DiBenedetto has finishes of 13th at Fontana, 14th and 9th at Darlington, 18th and 15th at Charlotte, and 2nd at Las Vegas. Just because of his price tag, I’ll have less than 10% DiBenedetto exposure on Sunday.
- Tyler Reddick ($7,300)
– This guy is going to be one of the highest-owned on the slate, so take that for what it’s worth. He’s starting back in 24th and should be able to pick up at least 10 spots by the checkered flag, as Reddick is averaging a finish of 12.6 on the 1.5-mile and high wear tracks this season. His best result in those races was a 7th in the first Darlington race. I’ll have a good amount of Reddick exposure but the contrarian in me will keep it low enough that I’ll be underweight compared to the field.
- JJ Yeley ($4,500)
– Complete fade. This car hasn’t finished better than 30th except once, and it was at Darlington where five legitimate teams had problems.
- Corey LaJoie ($5,800)
– I’d like LaJoie as a pivot more if there weren’t so many options down in this price range. When you pivot to someone like LaJoie, you’re kind of banking on those “better” picks to have some issues. With LaJoie this week, you’d be banking on Custer AND Preece to have issues, not to mention guys like Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola. As far as results at similar tracks, this #32 Ford has ran better at the 1.5-mile tracks this year (16th at Las Vegas, 19th at Charlotte 2) than at the high wear tracks (best finish of 24th at Darlington 2). There have been plenty of times this season that I’ve been overweight on LaJoie but it won’t be here on Sunday. I’ll have very minimal ownership.
- Josh Bilicki ($4,600)
– Complete fade. This car has an average finish of 34.2 this year. Even a ton of wrecks aren’t going to make Bilicki a good pick.
- Brennan Poole ($4,700)
– Complete fade. Poole has a car that is a step above the back markers, but he starts 28th and will finish around 30th or worse. Still not worth the risk with the cheap price tag.
- Joey Gase ($4,800)
– Complete fade. Gase ran 29th and 30th in this car in the two Darlington races earlier this year but still not worth it with him starting 29th on Sunday.
- Michael McDowell ($5,200)
– I’m actually a little worried that Michael McDowell’s performance at Martinsville on Wednesday night will give his ownership on Sunday at Homestead a significant bump. For some reason DraftKings continues to price McDowell at an extremely low level, and he continues to be one of my higher owned drivers week in and week out. That’s the case this week, too (he’s my 5th-highest-owned on the slate). Since returning from the COVID hiatus, McDowell has no finish worse than 25th and an average result of 19.3. If he can just come home in the top 24 on Sunday, he’ll be worth it for this price in DraftKings.
- Quin Houff ($4,900)
– Complete fade. Houff is kind of in the middle between a back marker and an under-funded team. Maybe next week at Talladega!
- Ty Dillon ($6,700)
– I’m interested to see what Ty Dillon’s ownership looks like on Sunday. He’s obviously in a great starting position for his normal race of picking up place differential points, and don’t forget that Ty finished 19th in both Darlington races this year. Also, he’s finished between 22nd and 26th in four of his five career Cup starts here at Homestead. With as heavy as I am on Erik Jones, though, Ty Dillon just didn’t make it into too many lineups for me, so I’ll be underweight.
- Ryan Preece ($5,700)
– I’ve been overweight on Preece in most race slates this season, and that will be the case here at Homestead as well. Preece ranks 24th in average Green Flag Speed ranking this season, and he should be able to pick up 8 or more spots from the green to checkered here on Sunday. In the Homestead race last November, Preece started 26th and finished 25th. He also has just one finish worse than 26th since we got back from the COVID hiatus, and that was at the second Darlington race and due to an engine issue.
- BJ McLeod ($5,000)
– Complete fade. McLeod is in the #77 car this weekend, which is a step up from his self-owned #78 car, but he’s going to finish 30th at best.
- Cole Custer ($6,000)
– Chalk, chalk, chalk. I don’t know what the hell DraftKings was thinking with pricing Cole Custer at $6,000 this week, but he starts 35th so really he probably only needs to not wreck for the pick to pay off. Looking at similar tracks this season, Custer has finishes of 18th at Fontana, 19th at Atlanta, and 22nd at Darlington, not to mention his top 20s in both races at Charlotte and at Las Vegas. You can go underweight on him as a strategy play on Sunday and hope he wrecks–Custer should be the highest-owned driver on the slate–or just roll with him and try to beat everyone else with your other five drivers. I’ll be employing the second strategy.
- Christopher Bell ($9,300)
– On the flip side, DraftKings has Christopher Bell priced about $1,000 too high, so it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of ownership percentage he garners on Sunday. And unless it’s really low, I’m probably going to be underweight. I just liked the other drivers in the mid-$8,000 range more to pay up for Christopher Bell in most lineups. I don’t mind playing him at 15-20% in mass enter contests.
- Daniel Suarez ($7,500)
– Complete fade. I’m not sure why Daniel Suarez is priced the highest he has been all season, but even with him starting 37th I’m not paying up for that. Suarez hasn’t finished better than 25th at any track over 1 mile in length this year.
- Timmy Hill ($5,600)
– Complete fade. Hill has finished 33rd in all but two races this year. He’s also over-priced in DraftKings.