It’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway time! NASCAR is motoring into the Sin City after an extremely newsworthy Speedweeks. And now that Daytona is in the rearview mirror, we’ve now come to what many in the garage refer to as the first true race of the season.
Nobody really seems to know what anybody has so far. Because of that, it’s smart not to load up on any one team or manufacturer. The team below consists of five drivers from five race teams, featuring two Fords, two Chevrolets and one Toyota. And it’s a simple explanation as to why: It would be stupid to put three or more like-situation drivers on a team only for the Toyotas to struggle, or problems for Roush-Yates Engines doom the Fords, or for the Chevrolets … to continue running like they’ve been for the last few years. It’s about as smart as going all-in before even getting to the flop in hold ’em.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, it allows 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 have a total of 26 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’s my team for Sunday afternoon’s race.
(Due to scheduling, this team was constructed prior to Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying sessions. Due to this, the price of these drivers may vary while setting a new lineup following these sessions.)
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Joey Logano ($13,000)
Career at Las Vegas: 13 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 9 top 10s
Average Finish at Las Vegas: 8.5
In the last five races at Las Vegas, just three drivers have five top-10 finishes, and one of them is the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion.
Logano is also tied with his teammate, Brad Keselowski, for best average finish (an incredible 3.4) in that time span. I’m going with Logano over his teammate, however, simply because Logano has more momentum on his side. And while we don’t really know yet what everybody has, having the confidence of at least being better than your teammates and knowing you were good enough to win a Duel last week works wonders for a driver.
That said, one driver has actually gained more points than Logano in said five-race span, and he’s the next member of the team.
Martin Truex Jr. ($11,500)
Career at Las Vegas: 16 starts, 2 wins, 5 top fives, 8 top 10s
Average Finish at Las Vegas: 10.9
Truex has been the best overall driver at Las Vegas the last few years. Although Logano and Keselowski have better average finishes in the past five Cup races, Truex has the leg up in points due to how clutch he has been winning stages in that time frame.
Although FanDuel doesn’t reward points for winning stages, they do reward points for leading laps. And while it’s written at the top of this article every week not to focus on dominators, it’s definitely a plus that Truex and Logano have led over 250 laps at Las Vegas since 2017. The only driver better than both is Kevin Harvick, and he struggles with consistency compared with the two, having an average finish of just 16.8. And he’s not worth that price at that average finish.
Chase Elliott ($11,000)
Career at Las Vegas: 6 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average Finish at Las Vegas: 20.7
You could put a number of different drivers here: Harvick, Keselowski, Kyle Busch. But I’m going with Elliott instead for a few reasons.
Like was written in the intro, it’s smart not to put all of your eggs in one basket for this race. Chevrolet could struggle compared to the Ford and Toyota drivers in the field, no doubt. But they could also end up becoming a big deal fairly quickly with this new aerodynamic nose.
What’s more is that there’s no reason for Hendrick Motorsport’s rising stock at mile-and-a-half racetracks to die down this season. Some of Hendrick’s best results came on the “cookie-cutter” type tracks, with Alex Bowman’s breakthrough win at Chicagoland coming to mind.
Finally, there’s Elliott himself. The only three times Elliott hasn’t finished in the top 10 in Sin City, he ended up wrecking. Otherwise, he has almost always been a contender for a win. While it’s smart to focus on reliability and consistency instead of individual race results, sometimes you have to just throw the dice at Las Vegas and hope for the best.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
Ross Chastain ($6,500)
Career at Las Vegas: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at Las Vegas: 28.2
It’s clear why to go with this pick. Chastain is the substitute for Ryan Newman, a bit of a surprise considering his relationship with the team’s rival, Chip Ganassi Racing, but he was also the absolute best possible choice. I would argue that outside of Kyle Busch, Chastain is the best driver in NASCAR, something I’ve argued now for almost a year. While Roush Fenway Racing isn’t exactly the best team on the grid anymore, it’s also by far the best equipment Chastain has climbed into at the Cup level.
He also has a pretty fast Ford this week even with the RFR disadvantage. Chastain was fifth overall in final practice, but more importantly was second in 20 consecutive lap averages. At that speed, and at this price, why aren’t you looking at the watermelon farmer this week?
BARGAIN TIER: $5,999 and below
Bubba Wallace ($5,000)
Career at Las Vegas: 8 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at Las Vegas: 27.0
Due to just how smart this team has been constructed (humble brag), we still have plenty of money remaining. Because of that, I have my pick of the litter here at this tier, and it’s going be Bubba Wallace this week.
Compared to everybody else at this tier, Wallace is probably the safest option to go with. He’s not going to wow, but he is going to complete plenty of laps and compete at the end for a solid top-20 finish. And at this tier, that’s all you can really ask for.