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Cap Considerations

Draft Kings: Auto Club 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 27, 2020, 7:08 pm ET

NASCAR visits their third track type in 2020 as chaos reigned over the first two races.

Daytona International Speedway is always unpredictable, so there was little surprise when the Daytona 500 erupted into carnage in the final laps. If you checked your lineup with two-to-go … well, you shouldn't have. The chickens had not yet hatched and there were plenty of eggs to break.

The Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway should have been a much more predictable affair. And in a way it was. The only thing is that the predictability did not survive a late-race caution and another omelet was made with ingredients most fantasy players did not order.

Three weeks into the season, the leaderboard looks a little funky, but strength will prevail and eventually the favorites will finish up front. The 2-mile track should provide our first glimpse at who is going to emerge as a favorite to dominate the 2020 season.


Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Brad Keselowski ($10,000)
Last week we profiled Joey Logano as our Group A driver and it was not without a little satisfaction that we saw him win. He could be our favorite again except for one factor: There is an equally strong driver at this level for $900 less. Team Penske has been as strong at Auto Club as Las Vegas. Logano and Keselowski both have top-five streaks of three or more races on this track and top-10 streaks of five races. Keselowski has the advantage in terms of wins with his 2015 triumph and wants to erase last week’s modest performance from fans’ minds.

Group B: (Between $9,800 and $8,600)

Ryan Blaney ($9,400)
Blaney is one of our four drivers to watch this week in no small part because of how well he ran at Las Vegas. He has something to prove as he tries to insure that his name is called as often as his two more experienced teammates. With Joe Gibbs Racing struggling last week on the 1.5-mile course, Team Penske has an opportunity to emerge as the strongest organization, but all three drivers will have to contend for top-fives. Blaney has been almost perfect on 2-mile tracks over the past two years and he enters the weekend with three straight top-10s at Auto Club that includes a fifth in this race last year.  

Chase Elliott ($9,800)
It is possible that we are getting caught up in the hype surrounding Hendrick Motorsports at Vegas. That track has been kinder to them than Auto Club in recent seasons and the aero dynamic challenges faced by the Chevrolets are different on this larger course. They looked so good in the Pennzoil 400, however, and Elliott had the victory in sight. It’s hard to imagine that momentum will not bleed over in this week. Elliott has nine top-10s in 12 races on this track type and rarely stumbles.  

Group C: (Between $8,400 and $7,400)

Austin Dillon ($7,400)
Dillon was a top pick last week in Las Vegas. He capitalized on the late-race caution and earned a top-10. Along with his success at Daytona two weeks ago, that gives him the best points-per-thousand-dollar ratio at this level. That is not why he is featured again. Each track is different and momentum carries a driver only so far. But Auto Club is one of Dillon’s best tracks. He had four results of 11th or 10th in his six-race career there including the last three races. He is equally strong on the other 2-miler of Michigan and has at least 50/50 odds of getting another top-10.

Matt DiBenedetto ($7,600)
For the fraction of the costs of the top two Penske drivers, fantasy players can sign DiBenedetto. They will only get a fraction of the points, but that is okay if it allows you to take one of the Group A drivers. The No. 21 team finished second last week largely because of race strategy. One should not expect them to earn another top-five at Auto Club. But DiBenedetto ran well all afternoon and had the pace to earn a top-10 even before the final caution. It doesn’t hurt that he and Dillon are the two cheapest drivers at this level, which will open a ton of cap room at the top of the order.

Group D: (Between $7,200 and $5,900)

Chris Buescher ($7,200)
Parity can be difficult to deal with. Several of the drivers at this level are capable of scoring top-15 finishes, but it can be extremely hard to figure out who they will be on a given week. When faced with uncertainty, we tend to lean toward the strength of an organization. With Ryan Newman on the bench for the time being, Buescher is the No. 1 driver at Roush Fenway Racing and should get the lion’s share of the resources. He is their best hope of making the playoffs and proved to be capable of earning top-10s on unrestricted, intermediate speedways last year. Equally important, in the head-to-head matchup between Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Buescher is $500 cheaper, which will equate to a better points-per-thousand-dollar ratio.

Ross Chastain ($6,500)
Chastain is cheaper still than either the former or current driver of the No. 17. He is in equipment capable of earning top-10s and last week he took the No. 6 into the lead pack at the end of Stage 1. He ran into trouble with another driver after the midway point and later spun on his own, but that simply means he was fighting for every bit of real estate he could get. It won’t take too long for him to learn to drive within his capabilities. When that happens, he will be one of the best values in Draft Kings as they struggle to get his salary cap to equal his potential.

Group E: (Less than or equal to $6,100)

John Hunter Nemechek ($5,700)
Most experts thought the 2020 Rookie of the Year would come down to three drivers. That bias is reflected in the Draft Kings salary cap with Christopher Bell priced at $7,000, Cole Custer at $6,900, and Tyler Reddick at $6,700. Nemechek is $1,000 cheaper than all of them, but he has shown more maturity in the first two races. Front Row Motorsports might be lagging in resources compared to the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated team, Stewart-Haas Racing, or Richard Childress Racing, but they have a driver whose heart is just as big. His pair of top-25s in the first two races of the season has not been a fluke.

 

Draft Kings Points,
Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group

Kevin Harvick

7.0

114.5

57.3

$11,600

          4.94

A

Joey Logano

19.0

68.0

34.0

$10,900

          3.12

A

Brad Keselowski

24.5

30.5

15.3

$10,000

          1.53

A

Kyle Busch

27.0

23.0

11.5

$11,300

          1.02

A

Martin Truex Jr.

30.5

14.8

7.4

$10,400

          0.71

A

 

Ryan Blaney

7.0

112.3

56.1

$9,400

          5.97

B

Denny Hamlin

14.5

103.8

51.9

$9,200

          5.64

B

Chase Elliott

11.0

87.3

43.6

$9,800

          4.45

B

Kyle Larson

16.0

68.0

34.0

$9,600

          3.54

B

Jimmie Johnson

22.5

40.3

20.1

$9,000

          2.24

B

Alex Bowman

24.0

39.3

19.6

$8,800

          2.23

B

Kurt Busch

32.0

9.5

4.8

$8,600

          0.55

B

 

Austin Dillon

10.5

93.8

46.9

$7,400

          6.33

C

Clint Bowyer

11.5

91.0

45.5

$7,900

          5.76

C

Matt DiBenedetto

11.5

84.5

42.3

$7,600

          5.56

C

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

14.5

83.0

41.5

$7,700

          5.39

C

Erik Jones

23.5

39.5

19.8

$8,100

          2.44

C

Aric Almirola

27.0

24.5

12.3

$8,300

          1.48

C

William Byron

29.0

-3.5

-1.8

$8,400

         (0.21)

C

 

Bubba Wallace

11.0

88.5

44.3

$6,100

          7.25

D

Chris Buescher

10.0

98.5

49.3

$7,200

          6.84

D

Ty Dillon

17.5

61.0

30.5

$5,900

          5.17

D

Tyler Reddick

21.0

46.5

23.3

$6,700

          3.47

D

Daniel Suarez

22.0

20.0

20.0

$6,400

          3.13

D

Ross Chastain

29.5

23.0

11.5

$6,500

          1.77

D

Christopher Bell

29.5

21.5

10.8

$7,000

          1.54

D

Cole Custer

30.0

6.0

3.0

$6,900

          0.43

D

 

Corey LaJoie

7.5

107.8

53.9

$5,400

          9.98

E

JH Nemechek

14.0

74.5

37.3

$5,700

          6.54

E

Brennan Poole

17.0

66.5

33.3

$5,200

          6.39

E

Joey Gase

22.5

48.0

24.0

$4,800

          5.00

E

JJ Yeley

20.0

25.0

25.0

$5,100

          4.90

E

Michael McDowell

23.0

48.3

24.1

$5,600

          4.31

E

Reed Sorenson

25.5

36.0

18.0

$5,000

          3.60

E

Timmy Hill

27.5

31.0

15.5

$5,300

          2.92

E

Garrett Smithley

33.0

8.0

8.0

$4,900

          1.63

E

Quin Houff

31.0

13.0

6.5

$4,700

          1.38

E

Ryan Preece

31.0

9.0

4.5

$5,500

          0.82

E

 

Auto Club Coverage

Fantasy Live: Auto Club
Auto Club 400 Cheat Sheet
Power Rankings after Las Vegas 1
Four to Watch at Auto Club: Ryan Blaney
Four to Watch at Auto Club: Kyle Larson
Four to Watch at Auto Club: Daniel Suarez

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.