Nothing matters on restrictor-plate, superspeedways, and that includes salary caps. Paul Menard at $6,500 has an almost equal chance of earning a top-10 as Kevin Harvick with his salary cap of $10,500.
This week, create a couple of rosters. Anchor them with two or three drivers most likely to run in the top five for the majority of their unstricken existence, and spread the rest of the money around.
In years past, there would be several drivers at the very back of the field without a chance of scoring a top-15. Their cars would barely have the speed to make the show and would mostly run in a pack of their own half a lap down to the leaders. Their number has dwindled and more drivers than ever have shot at finishing in the front half of the field.
To win the big contests this week, players are going to have to get lucky and select a six-man roster that all finished inside the top-10. To win smaller contests, top-15s will be acceptable.
With the addition of Todd Parrott to the No. 95 team, Michael McDowell has been one of the best values in recent weeks. He is a solid plate racer with top-15s in both Daytona International Speedway events this year and a 21st at Talladega SuperSpeedway. His odds of finishing that well again this week are at least as good as anyone else’s and his price tag of $6,400 opens up a lot of options throughout the grid.
Freeing up cap room is even more impactful when McDowell gets paired with David Gilliland. Front Row Motorsports has earned some solid finishes in recent seasons. They have a strong enough plate program that they are confident rolling out a third car on the two big tracks and Gilliland climbs behind the wheel when that happens. He failed to transfer into the 500 this year, but NASCAR’s new charter program made that an incredibly difficult task. Gilliland then finished 17th at Talladega and 19th at Daytona, which means he was in the lead pack and capable of moving forward if his drafting line had surged.
With those two in the lineup, a player can shift his attention to the top of the salary cap ranking. Kyle Busch is one of two drivers who have swept the top 10 on plate tracks this year. In fact, he swept the top five with a third in the Daytona 500 and back-to-back runner-up results. He only needs a solid top-10 to advance to the next round of the Chase this week and that will hopefully keep him from making a mistake that places him in jeopardy.
Austin Dillon is the other driver with a sweep of the top 10. In three plate races this year, his worst result was ninth and his best was third. That third-place finish came at Talladega. He needs to outrun Joey Logano this week as his most likely avenue to advance to the next round and that should spur both of them onto strong runs. NASCAR has a way of getting good storylines.
After that, it really doesn’t matter much who one picks for the final slots. Chase Elliott finished fifth in the spring Talladega race and could be part of the transfer story. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are also capable of running well, so roll the dice and pick a driver.
The same rules apply to the RaceDayScore game as Draft Kings. Possibly in recognition of that, 24 of the drivers are below the midline. Typically that number is closer to the 50/50 mark.
Brad Keselowski is the most expensive driver in this game with a price tag of $11,500, which is partly attributable to his ‘Dega victory this May and at Daytona in July. He came into the 2014 edition of this race needing to win in order to advance. He got a bit of an assist from teammate Logano who blocked a surging draft line and won. Last week he dug a hole for this team that he must climb out of again.
There is a greater recognition of Gilliland’s potential in this game since he has a price of $9,200 that is only $800 below this midline. Bobby Labonte is also priced at $9,200, so neither of these drivers create enough opportunity at the top. McDowell is as good a value in this game as Draft Kings, so he becomes one of the first selections at $8,000.
Nine drivers are priced below $9,000, so one has to make some very difficult decisions. When confronted with an even proposition players most often want to let experience be the tiebreaker. Clint Bowyer has been consistently strong on plate tracks with 10 top-10s in his last 13 attempts. This is a new team and driver combination that lacks the same depth of pockets as Bowyer’s previous organizations, but two of his strong runs came his season with a seventh in the Geico 500 and a ninth in the Coke Zero 400.
These two drivers make the average available for the next four selections $10,725 per. Only five drivers are more expensive than that this week, which opens up options. Logano helped his teammate win two years ago. He won this race last year, and now he would be the safest in regard to advancement if he can win again.
Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only drivers in the field with nothing except a racecar to lose this week. They can take almost any kind of risk they want to try and secure a top-five finish as long as they do not trigger a "Big One" crash with their Chase-eligible teammate behind them. Will that work in their favor or against it? As with most things on the plate tracks, the odds are 50 percent.
|Driver||Avg. Fin Last 6 Races||Avg. Points Draft Kings||Avg. Points RaceDayScore|
|Martin Truex Jr||6.00||7.17||44.92|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||19.50||21.00||24.83|