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🏎 NASCAR DFS: O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 NASCAR DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel

Phillip Bennetzen

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🏎 Race Preview: NASCAR DFS Instacart 350 at Phoenix International Raceway Breakdown for Draftkings + FanDuel

The field is set for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 235 with Chase Elliott and Michael McDowell on the front row. With just 65 laps on the tab, let’s jump into the top NASCAR DFS picks for this Sunday’s race at the Daytona Road Course.

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NASCAR DFS Picks: O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 | Feb. 19

DraftKings & FanDuel Lineup Construction Post Formula

For the most part, knowing who to play this weekend is easier than how you play them. You can easily look up and down the starting grid, via the Race Sheets, and see we have several drivers with juicy place differential upside. However, do you just play all the place differential drivers? What about dominators, do we need to consider rostering one or multiple lap leaders? How does this lineup equation change for cash rosters versus tournament lineups?

To begin, with just 65 laps in this race, your DraftKings and FanDuel cash rosters should be built off place differential drivers. Thanks to the starting grid being based on what happened at Daytona, we have lots of good to great drivers starting 20th or worse. If your cash team lineup ends up looking like a superspeedway roster with tons of leftover salary cap, don’t sweat it.

For tournaments, you can go with the cash game roster style if you foresee a race where we don’t have a single driver that dominates. The less one particular driver stays in the lead, the more likely it is that place differential drivers will outscore them. However, it’s still a good idea to build your tournament lineups with a single lap leader as the cornerstone of your rosters. We’ve seen dominating performances from some of these drivers at road courses. If you fail to have access to them, you might cash but you won’t come close to nailing the optimal.

Potential Dominators

Due to where drivers are starting, I see only two real options as strict lap-leaders. There are other names riddled in the teens and twenties who could eventually lead some laps. However, in the strictest sense of you’re playing these drivers for their laps led/ fastest lap potential, and nothing else, it’s these drivers.

Chase Elliott, 1st ($14,000 FanDuel, $10,700 DraftKings)

This feels like a slam dunk and it should be. The Series best road racer is starting atop the pole, what else do we think is going to happen. Just like Elliott did in the summer and practically every road race since Watkins Glen of 2018, Elliott should lead the most laps and garner the most fastest laps as well. You know his finishes (4 straight wins) in road courses. You know that he leads the Series in practically every statistical category in road races since 2018. The only question for DFS is how much ownership is too much ownership? For myself, in 20-max lineups, I may be willing to bite the bullet and go 85% or above just to beat the field.

Denny Hamlin, 4th ($12,000 FanDuel, $9,800 DraftKings)

Within the top 15 starting drivers, if you don’t use Elliott as your main dominator, you have to look at Hamlin as option 2. He finished second to Elliott in the Go Bowling 235 less than a year ago leading 16 laps. Truth be told, Hamlin’s road racing career highlights him as a better technical road race ace (Watkins Glen, Sonoma). However, the script has been that if you’re going to a top lap-leader at road courses, you had better start upfront. That is what Hamlin has at his advantage, starting 4th. If he can capitalize on an early mistake or unforced error by Elliott, Hamlin will be the top option to ascend to the lead in the first stage.

NASCAR DFS Tournament Picks

The key to winning road race NASCAR DFS tournaments is not only nailing the top lap-leader but rostering drivers with top-five finishes. Here are a few drivers I’m projecting, who with a top-five finish and their place differential, could be essential to your lineups on Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 235.

Kyle Busch, 14th ($12,500 FanDuel, $10,000 DraftKings)

One factor I left out of this week’s preview was looking back at the Busch Clash results. The confluence of just what the race meant to each individual driver made it really tough for me to consider it as a solid data point. However, if you do want to consider the results of that race, it’s hard not to give Kyle Busch a hard look this week in tournaments. As I warned in the preview, you can’t just take the box score from the Go Bowling 235 and say it’s gospel. If you don’t recall, very early on in that race Kyle Busch took the lead from Denny Hamlin and had three fastest laps as well while on his way to the front.

However, Busch cut down a tire, and had to pit to fix his issue effectively ending his day. Busch spent most of the afternoon riding around trying to get back up front before another issue, with three laps to go, sent the No. 18 team packing. Had the year from hell for Busch not struck early on, perhaps Busch would have been a legitimate threat to win that afternoon. We can say that with some confidence after how well he looked in the Busch Clash. Yes, he won after the drivers in first and second wrecked one another. However, he was in position to capitalize and that’s what matters.

A new season brings new hope for Busch and we want to be on him early should the iron strike hot out of the gate.

Kurt Busch, 17th ($9,000 FanDuel, $8,600 DraftKings)

Kurt Busch is your classic probably not going to win at a road course driver but he’s so consistent he’ll be in the top 10. Since 2018, Busch has finished in the top 20 in every single race. Over that same span, he’s only failed to finish within the top 15 just once. Furthermore, in five of those eight races, he’s brought home top-10finishes. With his 17th starting position, he’ll gain place differential, it’s just a matter of if it takes one or two hands to count it.

The rub on Kurt Busch is his upside. Over those past eight road races, he’s only averaging 1.9 fast laps and 1 lap led per event. In the past summer’s race at the Daytona roval, he went backward from eighth to fourteenth picking up one fastest lap in the process. Thankfully, he should move forward this time. However, counting on him to pick up a scattering of dominator points in the process might be asking for too much.


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NASCAR DFS Cash Game Picks

If you need me to recommend playing Martin Truex Jr. (21st) or road-racing veteran A.J. Allmendinger (34th) then move along. Outside of Elliott, these drivers have the second and third-best odds to win this race, via DraftKings Sportsbook. It might take them both until the second segment to be in the top 10, yet they will be factors late in the race.

William Byron, 22nd ($9,600 FanDuel, $8,800 DraftKings)

The number I want to home in on for Byron is 6.66 — his average finish in his past three “Roval” type races. Of everyone in Sunday’s field not named Chase Elliott or Martin Truex Junior, that average is best in the field with finishes of sixth, eighth and sixth. We know horsepower matters in these road course races utilizing the oval part of the track. It’s this horsepower that Hendrick has reliably given to its four drivers with Elliott’s three wins and Alex Bowman’s finishes of eighth, twelfth, and second. These Daytona “Roval” races were the last reliable place you could roster Jimmie Johnson. Follow the corollary, follow the finishes, follow the place differential.

Erik Jones, 36th ($8,000 FanDuel, $7,800 DraftKings)

Jones’s reward for finishing 39th last week in the Daytona 500 is starting 36th this week. Due to this starting position, Jones has one of the most bankable bases you can roster. It might be a fight for Jones to reach the top 20 by the end of the race. Yet for cash we really don’t need much more from Jones. Although both DraftKings and FanDuel are making you pay for his place differential. In a mid-tier vehicle, he should easily pass the likes of Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman, Anthony Alfredo, Josh Billicki, Cody Ware, Joey Gase, B.J. McLeod, and perhaps even Aric Almirola.

Even if you question the capabilities of the No. 43 team, Bubba Wallace had no finish better than 21st in his tenure at RPM at road races, Jones showed promise in his time at Joe Gibbs with an average finish of 13.5 in the past eight races at road courses. While he is definitely taking a step down in performance, I believe he has enough talent to have a positive day and finish around 15th on the higher end and 23rd on the lower end.


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Phill Bennetzen is a father, husband, and Catholic as well as a self-professed annoying fitness guy. Phill heads up NASCAR content at Awesemo.com. You can contact Phill by emailing support@awesemo.com.

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