Last week’s race at Daytona International Speedway probably ruined quite a few daily fantasy NASCAR FanDuel rosters with Justin Haley pulling off the upset. But don’t expect another huge upset this week as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400.
Kentucky is a mile-and-a-half in length, which is the type of track that makes up nearly half of the Cup Series schedule. With this being the series’ lone stop in the Bluegrass state, the sample size of data is smaller to pull from than other tracks. So it is important to put drivers who have shown speed at the other mile-and-a-half races back into your lineups.
There will likely not be an underdog winner, as Kentucky has been dominated by a small select of drivers. In its eight years on the Cup schedule, Kentucky has essentially been a battle of Toyota vs. Brad Keselowski. Chevrolet has yet to win at the track. Don’t venture too far out of the range of these concepts when filling out your lineup.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, they allow you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 267-lap race will only have a total of 26.7 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack competitors who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for Saturday night’s race.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kyle Busch ($14,000)
Career at Kentucky: 8 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average Finish at Kentucky: 5.0
Busch is pretty flawless at Kentucky. The 2015 Cup champion has the best average finish all-time at the track, with a worst finish of 12th. He’s finished on the lead lap in all eight Kentucky races and has led more than 100 laps in half of them. In fact, he’s led more laps at the track than any other driver.
More so, Busch is tied for the most wins this season with four. But he’s finished outside the top 10 the past two weeks, so a trip to the Bluegrass State could be just the thing to snap that dry spell.
Brad Keselowski ($12,500)
Career at Kentucky: 8 starts, 3 wins, 4 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average Finish at Kentucky: 11.4
The only driver arguably better at Kentucky than Busch is Keselowski. He’s the only non-Toyota driver to win at the track, and he’s done so three times — the most in track history. With two finishes of 33rd or worse, Keselowski hasn’t been as consistent as Busch, but he’s finished seventh or higher and led laps in each of his six other Kentucky starts. Keselowski is second on the list of total laps led at the track.
Keselowski has been great on the mile-and-a-half speedways this season, finishing in the top five in four of the six races so far, including two wins. Look for Keselowski to bounce back from a bad week at Daytona with a strong showing at one of his best tracks.
Ryan Blaney ($10,400)
Career at Kentucky: 3 starts, 0 wins, 1 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average Finish at Kentucky: 15.7
Given the speed Team Penske has shown on the mile-and-a-halves this year, Blaney is a solid pick. He’s bettered his finishing position each trip to Kentucky and finished second in this race last year. So if he’s going to continue that trend, then Blaney will have to win the race. Blaney is no stranger to Kentucky’s victory lane, having won two NASCAR Xfinity Series races there.
Prior to crashing out of Daytona — like a large number of top drivers did — Blaney had a string of three consecutive top 10s. Another top 10 would be good for the price range he’s at.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
William Byron ($9,000)
Career at Kentucky: 1 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at Kentucky: 20.0
Pay no attention to what Byron did in this race one year ago. That was a different Byron. He’s gotten better almost every week this season, scoring his career-best finish with a second place last week at Daytona. To add to the speed Byron has shown is an ultra consistency. He’s finished in the top 10 in five of the past eight races, and his worst finish is 20th in that span.
Byron has led laps in five of the six mile-and-a-half races in 2019 and has finished in the top 10 in three of them. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman won the most recent intermediate race, coming at Chicagoland Speedway. Byron has a Gander Outdoors Truck Series win to his credit at Kentucky, and, on Saturday night, he could very well continue the current Cup Series streak of first-time winners to three.
Ryan Newman ($7,300)
Career at Kentucky: 8 starts, 0 wins, 3 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average Finish at Kentucky: 15.1
It’s a good week to have drivers named “Ryan” in your lineup. Newman is quietly really good at Kentucky. His three top fives are tied for the most all-time at the track. He finished third twice, and his worst Kentucky finish in the past six years is 22nd.
This season, Newman has the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 running better than it’s been in years. He has six top 10s already this year and has finished in the top 10 in three of the past four races, including a fifth last week at Daytona. What do you get when you combine a track a driver has a knack for, an improving race team and a fairly inexpensive FanDuel price? A great pick for your lineup.