The field is set with Chase Elliott and Joey Logano on the front row. Let’s jump in this week’s top NASCAR DFS plays for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
Chase Elliott Deserves His Own Section
Via his victory at Charlotte, Chase Elliott finds himself on the pole at Kansas. If you’ll hearken back to my preview from earlier this week, whoever starts first has notoriously run well at Kansas during the Generation-Six era. Even with poor outings during the 2015 season, as well as the last two races, the polesitter is averaging over 86 laps led and 42 fastest laps per race with four wins and an average finish of seventh. The only question is can Elliott replicate, or even improve upon, these numbers from the holeshot?
The last time Elliott was on the pole was back in Phoenix, a race he led 93 of 316 laps. Although Phoenix and Kansas aren’t comparable at all, it’s worth noting that Elliott was a dominator in his last position as the pole sitter. However, the case for Elliott definitely goes beyond where he’s starting from. In this race two years ago, Elliott led 44 laps en route to his third career victory. Since then his finishes at Kansas have gone fourth, second, and 12th.
Furthermore, this weekend’s tire package incorporates the left-side tires used at Charlotte (two times) and Kansas as well as the right-side tires used at Las Vegas. In those back to back Charlotte races, Elliott finished second and first. At Kansas, Elliott got stuck in traffic and at Vegas, he led 73 laps before finishing 22nd. There may be concern about how those two Charlotte night races, plus the Kansas night race translate into a day Kansas race. However, cool temperatures combined with an extra grippy tire package should play into Elliott’s wheelhouse.
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Other Potential Dominators
To be frank, I can make a case for every driver starting second through ninth. Save for Kurt Busch, every single one of these drivers has led on average 12 laps or more over the past seven Kansas races. Considering the tire package, you can’t discount Kurt Busch either after he won at Las Vegas. Our last seven Kansas winners all come from the top eight starting positions.
So, who stands out in this gaggle? Our attention turns first to the June-Kansas winner Denny Hamlin starting seventh. Not only did Hamlin win that race after leading 57 laps, but he also won this same race last year after leading 153 laps. As far as our four track corollary, Hamlin is the only driver with three top-five finishes in those four races with laps led totals of 121 at Vegas and the previously mentioned 57 at Kansas.
After Hamlin, it’s really a toss-up over which direction to go. I can make a compelling case for either Brad Keselowski or Martin Truex Jr. as former Kansas winners. Both drivers are tied with an average finishing position of 5.8 in our four corollary races, but Keselowski holds the advantage with a win in the Coke 600. On the other hand, Truex has led more laps but those came in just the first Charlotte race and Kansas.
If you’re looking for a DraftKings specific dart throw, going down to Alex Bowman at $8,600 makes a lot of sense. Over his past five Kansas races, his average finish sits just under 10 and that includes 15.2 laps led per race. Furthermore, in our four similar races, Bowman has led the most laps (226) but doesn’t have the finishes to show for his work.
Tournament Place Differential Picks
Erik Jones 11th ($8,400 DraftKings) – Jones is specific to DraftKings this week as his $10,200 price tag on FanDuel only makes his viable if you think he’s going to lead laps. As we continue to wait on Silly Season news for Jones and his 2021 plans, Jones keeps knocking down top-10 finishes much to the chagrin of Joe Gibbs. His third-place finish at the Roval marked his fifth top-10 finish in his past six races. Now he returns to a track where his worst finish in the past five races is seventh.
Cole Custer 13th ($8,000 FanDuel, $7,000 DraftKings) – Starting in a position where few will want to touch Custer, the driver of the No. 41 makes an interesting pivot off the chalkier Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Custer’s average finish in our four similar races is 13.5 and that’s capped by a seventh-place finish at Kansas in June. Custer’s average running position in that race was 16 suggesting Custer took advantage of some late-race pit strategy. Regardless, the race notes are there and hopefully, this race stays green making it more likely the chalkier place differential drivers perhaps get lapped and stuck in the 20s.
Others; William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola
Cash Place Differential
John Hunter Nemechek, 32nd ($5,500 FanDuel, $6,100 DraftKings) – Only eight drivers have finished in the top-20 in our four corollary races. Surprisingly, Nemechek is part of that crew with finishes of 16th and 13th at Charlotte, 19th at Kansas, and 20th at Las Vegas. Yeah, barely scraping the barrel of what we need but he’s hitting those marks regardless. When it’s a driver in the 30s priced just above the $6,000 mark on DraftKings and below it on FanDuel — that’s a superb play for cash game formats.
Kyle Busch, 20th ($11,200 FanDuel, $9,900 DraftKings) – It’s never a good feeling when every time I tout Kyle Busch, half of the content feels based on narrative. Let’s start there before we get to something substantive. Rowdy has four races to get a win and keep his streak of at least one win per season going – currently at 15 straight. After being eliminated from the playoffs, Busch has literally nothing more to race for than a win. That’s some real motivation I can get behind.
Outside of his desire for a win, the numbers lineup for Busch to be a pick in all formats – especially in DraftKings cash. In back to back fall Kansas races, Busch has finishes of third and second. In the June-Kansas race, Busch led 52 laps. So now we get the return of Busch to a track where he’s got positive race notes and nothing left to lose.
Furthermore, on DraftKings, Busch is underpriced. With a finish in the top-10, Busch is going to make 5x value.
Others; Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell
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