The greatest city in the world is the site of this weekend’s tripleheader of NASCAR races, as Las Vegas Motor Speedway kicks off Round 2 of the Playoffs for the Cup Series on Sunday night. Yes, we’re getting a rare Sunday night race with no holiday the next day; getting up for work on Monday should be fun. This is the second race at Las Vegas this season, with Kyle Larson taking the checkered flag in the first event (big surprise, right?). Kurt Busch won the Playoff race here last season, although it was Denny Hamlin that led the most laps.
Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney will lead the field to the green on Sunday night in Sin City, and for the full starting lineup you can click here. My FanDuel article for this weekend’s race can be viewed by clicking here, and since there’s so much crossover between these two DFS sites, I always recommend checking that out. Now let’s goooo!!!!
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Also, be sure to check out the Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for this race by clicking here!
Speed Report & Loop Data Driver Averages
We’re focusing on “low wear” 1.5-mile tracks this weekend. For this season, that means we’re looking back at the first Las Vegas race, the Kansas race, and the Charlotte race. You can also look into data from the All Star Race at Texas if you’d like. Included in the data tables below is also the 2020 data from “low wear” 1.5-mile tracks. Also included is the data from this year under the 550hp package, as we’re back to running that this weekend. Statistics included in the tables below are:
- ARP = average running position
- DR = driver rating
- FL = fastest laps (total)
- LL = laps led (total)
- T15 = laps ran inside top 15 (total)
- Total Laps = laps completed (total)
2021 Driver Averages At “Low Wear” 1.5-Mile Tracks
|Martin Truex Jr||3||13.7||10.8||90.2||10||6||780||925|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||3||19.0||15.0||74.6||11||23||517||925|
2021 Driver Averages w/ 550hp Package
|Martin Truex Jr||9||10.6||10.3||93.1||77||62||1884||2247|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||9||20.4||17.5||68.7||17||23||997||2136|
2020 Driver Averages At “Low Wear” 1.5-Mile Tracks
|Martin Truex Jr||9||09.4||08.3||105.9||208||257||2170||2603|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||9||21.1||20.6||68.1||20||31||581||2289|
DraftKings Strategy & Dominators for Las Vegas
- With Las Vegas Motor Speedway being a 1.5-mile track, and this race being 400 miles, we’re looking at 267 laps for Sunday night’s race. At this track type we usually see one main dominator and then possibly one or two smaller dominators, but there have been cases where we’ve seen three or four equal dominators. On Sunday night, I think the most likely scenario is one main dominator and then one or two smaller dominators.
- Expect a lot of green flag racing this weekend. I’m estimating 230 of the 267 laps will be ran under green, which means 103.5 DraftKings FPTS for fastest laps. For laps led this week, the math on 267 laps is 66.75 DraftKings FPTS.
- NASCAR is running the 550hp package this weekend. Other tracks where this package has been ran this season are: Homestead, the first Las Vegas race, both Atlanta races, Kansas, Charlotte, both Pocono races, and Michigan.
- Comparable tracks ran at this season would be the first Vegas race (obviously) as well as Kansas and Charlotte. These are the three “low wear” 1.5-mile tracks raced at this year. If you go back to the 2020 season, you can also throw in Texas.
These are the potential dominators for this weekend’s race at Las Vegas, and are listed in the order of likelihood according to my projections:
- Kyle Larson
- William Byron
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Ryan Blaney
- Martin Truex, Jr.
- Chase Elliott
Some “surprise” dominators that could happen on Sunday night include: Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, and Christopher Bell.
Driver-by-Driver Breakdown Video
Now for the video breakdown! Be sure to go here and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already.
Optimal Lineup According to Jordan’s Projections
The optimal DraftKings lineup for Las Vegas Sunday night according to my Projections is:
- Kyle Larson
- Ryan Blaney
- William Byron
- Alex Bowman
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
- Anthony Alfredo
Confidence Rating = 7.8/10. This is definitely a tournament lineup because it’s rolling with the 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place starters on Sunday night, but honestly, I could see it working out. Larson is the favorite to win and dominate, but William Byron is a solid sleeper that should be good for 20+ fastest laps and some laps led. The same goes for Ryan Blaney. With Alex Bowman, you’re just hoping he doesn’t have one of his “off nights”, but he finished 5th at Charlotte and has wound up 9th or better in six of the nine 550hp package races this season.
GPP / Tournament Picks
Denny Hamlin ($10,500) – I hate to say it because I can’t stand the guy, but Denny Hamlin has brought his A game to kick off these 2021 Playoffs. Now, I have no doubt that he’s eventually going to choke away another chance at a Championship, but for the time being, I think it’s worth being overweight on James Dennis Alan Hamlin in DFS. The two obvious plays in this mid-$10,000 price range on DraftKings this weekend are Kyle Busch ($10,800) and Chase Elliott ($10,200), with Denny Hamlin sandwiched in between. As I said in the beginning of this article, though, who led the most laps int he Las Vegas Playoff race last season? Denny Hamlin. Who led 47 laps here at Las Vegas back in March? Denny Hamlin. Who’s projected to finish 2nd by my algorithm this weekend? Denny Hamlin.
William Byron ($8,900) – This price range has so much value in it, and it’s hard to say which drivers are going to get more ownership than the others, but the strongest play here is William Byron. Even though he’s starting up in 3rd, I think DraftKings priced him a little too low for Sunday night’s race, because Willy B can definitely contend in the South Point 400. Looking at similar tracks this year, Byron came home 8th in the first Vegas race, 9th at Kansas, and 4th at Charlotte. He put up 31 fastest laps at Vegas, 17 fastest laps at Kansas, and 51 fastest laps at Charlotte. If he can post his normal amount of dominator points on Sunday night and maybe even lead 20-30 laps, Byron can definitely make it into the optimal lineup with a top 5 finish.
Michael McDowell ($5,900) – Getting off the chalk in the lower-dollar range is always something we need to look at. This week, it’s likely that Anthony Alfredo ($5,700) will be chalk due to his 32nd starting spot, as well as Chase Briscoe ($6,000) because of his recent uptick in performance. You could even throw in Corey LaJoie ($6,200) because he’s been pretty solid this season. For a pivot, though, I’m looking at Michael McDowell. The 550hp package is where McDowell is at his best, and he’s finished inside the top 20 in eight of the nine races in it this season, including a 17th in the first Las Vegas race, a 13th at Kansas, and a 20th at Charlotte. If McDowell can pull off an 18th-place finish on Sunday night, he’ll score 30 DraftKings FPTS. For comparison, Alfredo needs to finish 22nd to hit that mark, Briscoe needs to finish 16th, and LaJoie needs to finish 20th.
BONUS: Austin Dillon ($8,100) – There is a ton of value in this $8,000s to low $9,000s range on DraftKings this weekend, and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the optimal lineup came from stacking drivers in here. And while the “big boys” like Blaney, Byron, Keselowski, and Bell are going to (understandably) get plenty of ownership, a pivot I really like is going down here to Austin Dillon. Here’s the thing: Austin Dillon has been really good in the 550hp package this season, particularly shining at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, which was also run at night. AD finished 12th in the first Vegas race this season, 10th at Kansas, and 6th at Charlotte, and don’t forget that he was a legitimate contender at Michigan in August before getting wrecked (Goodyear is brining the same tire combination this weekend). Austin starts back in 15th on Sunday night and if he can pull off a top 6 finish like he did at Atlanta and Charlotte this year, he could sneak into the optimal. Here at Vegas, he finished 4th in the first race last season and has wound up 13th or better in six of the last nine.
Stacking Dennys Podcast with Jordan & RotoDoc
Cash Core Drivers
Kyle Larson ($11,100) – Just like last weekend at Bristol, it’s hard to make a case against Kyle Larson this weekend. He’s starting on the pole, for one. Also, he’s been dominant at similar tracks this year. Looking at the first Vegas race, he had 57 fastest laps, 103 laps led, and ended up winning. At Kansas, he had 67 fastest laps, 132 laps led, but finished 19th after the wackiness at the end. And then at Charlotte, he had 69 fastest laps (nice), 327 laps led, and won from the pole. It’s hard to imagine Kyle Larson not being one of the highest-scoring DraftKings drivers on Sunday night unless he has mechanical issues or wrecks, both of which I do not try to predict.
Chase Elliott ($10,200) – I debated for quite a while between writing up Kyle Busch ($10,800) or Chase Elliott in this spot, but ultimately ended up landing on Chase because of the price discount. Both drivers are projected to score similarly this weekend, and both have similar upside as well. As far as Las Vegas Motor Speedway goes with Chase Elliott, he has always ran well, but finishing has been a problem. Chase has won three of the last six Stages and has also led 165 laps over the last three races. His finishes during that span? A 13th earlier this year and a 26th- and 22nd-place finishes last season. This #9 Chevrolet should be a legitimate top 5 contender, if not race-winning contender, on Sunday night if nothing goes wrong. Elliott finished 5th at Kansas this season and 2nd at Charlotte, posting 39 fastest laps in the latter race.
Alex Bowman ($8,300) – He may be #DeadToMe, but Alex Bowman priced at $8,300 on DraftKings this weekend is a steal, and while I do hold grudges, I’m not stupid. Bowman is really good at steep tracks. Hendrick Motorsports is really good at intermediate tracks this year. Bowman is starting 8th and has top 5 finishing potential. Need I say more? In the last two Playoff races here at Las Vegas, Bowman The Showman has finished 5th and 6th, and he also put up 20 fastest laps in last year’s event. In this year’s first Vegas race, he had 14 fastest laps but finished 27th after a late tire issue. Still, Bowman has ended up 9th or better in six of the nine 550hp races, four of which were also top 5s.
South Point 400 at Las Vegas DraftKings Driver 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 six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Proj Ownership||Starting Position||Ceiling Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$9,700||51.27||21.68%||4||66.80||04.8||$189|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$6,800||28.85||21.04%||22||34.35||18.5||$236|