DFS NASCAR Picks for Cup Series


The NASCAR Cup Series will race at Iowa Speedway for the first time Sunday night. Iowa was the replacement for Auto Club on the 2024 schedule. It doesn’t look like Auto Club will be ready for a return next year, so it will be interesting to see if Iowa is on the 2025 schedule. The Cup Series could make the decision easier for NASCAR if they put on a good show this weekend. The stands are going to be packed and the atmosphere is will be electric. It will be fun to see which driver can win the Iowa Corn 350 Sunday night.



The Cup Series had the same schedule for the race at Iowa that they had last week at Sonoma. Iowa is a new track so NASCAR gave the teams 50-minutes to dial in their cars during a practice session Friday. Most of the teams were able to make some long runs in practice, so we have plenty of data to work with this weekend.

Many of the teams had issues with their tires exploding after 20-laps. It will be very important for the crew chiefs to inflate the tires enough to generate speed, but do not run them so low that they explode. It is tough to tell which crew chiefs will gamble and which will play it safe, but the Toyota’s had the most issues in Friday’s practice.

Here are the practice speeds for the Iowa Corn 350





It is nice to see new tracks added to the schedule, but it makes handicapping the race a bit difficult. We do not have any data to work with this week from previous races at Iowa, so we will have to focus on what had at the tracks similar to Iowa Speedway.

Iowa is a 7/8- mile, short, flat track. It is similar in size and shape to Richmond. We can also use the data from the race at Richmond and the races at Phoenix and North Wilksboro to help handicap this race. The drivers who were fast in those races, should be fast this weekend.

Here are the stats from the races on the short, flat tracks this year, sorted by DraftKings Points…




The race Sunday is scheduled for 350 laps. That means there are 87.5 points available for leading laps and 157.5 points available for fastest laps (245 total dominator points). That is a lot of dominator points and we need to capture as many of them as possible Sunday night.

We do not have any data to work with to properly predict how many laps the main dominators will lead. I looked at the races at Phoenix and Richmond this year to figure out the percentage of laps we can expect from the dominators at Iowa Speedway.

The trend in the two Cup Series race on the short, flat tracks this season is for one driver to lead 40% of the laps (140 laps) and score 13% of the fastest laps (46 laps) for a total of 55.7 dominator points. A second driver leads 30% of the laps (100 laps) and scores 11% of the fastest laps (38 laps) for a total of 42.1 dominator points. We should also have two other dominators who score between 15 – 20 dominator points each.

The drivers with the best chance to dominate the race Sunday include Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano

The drivers with the best chance to score place differential points are Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson, Erik Jones, Ryan Preece and John H. Nemechek



DRAFTKINGS MODEL (Prediction Based on Stats) 

Finish = Finishing Points                PD = Position Differential              Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led

* The number in front of the driver is his projected finishing position based on stats.




* I had my picks all set. I was just waiting until after the Xfinity Series race to post them and then everything changed. I saw team after team have problems with burning up the tires in the Xfinity Series race. It was the same thing that happened at practice. Then I heard an interview with Brad Keselowski. He said, “It looks like we are headed to another race like Bristol where tire management will win the race.” If Brad is right (it looks like he is), then the drivers who kept the tires from burning up at Bristol, should be able to do the same Sunday night.

DENNY HAMLIN ($10,300) has been a beast on the tracks under 1.5-miles in length this year. He won at Bristol, Richmond and Dover and Hamlin finished second at Gateway. He does not have much experience at Iowa, but he is smart enough to figure it out. Hamlin led 163 laps at Bristol and smoked the field by saving his tires. I will play the No. 11 car and hope he can do it again.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ($9,500) led 54 laps at Bristol and managed his tires beautifully at Bristol. I want experience in a race where tire management is the key to winning. Truex finished second at Bristol and he should score a lot of place differential points and finish up front at Iowa.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ($9,200) is one of the smartest drivers in the Cup Series. While the other teams are totally confused about the race Sunday night, I am sure Keselowski knows exactly what to expect. He finished third at Bristol by managing his tires and he should be able to do the same Sunday night.

ALEX BOWMAN ($8,000) is a master at saving his tires. He had his best race of the year when he finished fourth at Bristol. Bowman should score a lot of place differential points and slowly work his way into the top-five.

ERIK JONES (6,400) looked like crap in practice and he looked worst in qualifying. I am not worried about it. All of the drivers who are good at managing their tires were at the bottom of the speed chart. There is a reason for that. They did not want to pop a tire and end up in the wall. Jones should move up from the 32nd position.

RYAN PREECE ($6,500) will be my driver from the Stewart-Haas Racing garage. The popular pick will be Noah Gragson, since he had the fastest car in practice. Preece started 25th and finished 14th at Bristol. That was good for 29 DK Points. I will play Preece and hope he can do it again.




MARTIN TRUEX JR. ($9,500): It is no secret that Truex is at his best on the short, flat tracks like Richmond and New Hampshire. The No. 19 car led 228 laps and should have won the race at Richmond this year. Truex did not look great in practice, but that is nothing new for the No. 19 team. Truex is always better in the race than he is in practice. Treux is a “free square” this week from the 31st starting position. He is almost a lock to finish in the top-12 and score at least 50 DK Points, so I will have Truex in both lineups.

JOEY LOGANO ($9,300): Whenever NASCAR races somewhere new, Logano wins the race. At least that is what it seems like. NASCAR will use the same tire that was used in the All-Star Race at North Wilksboro. Logano totally dominated at North Wilkboro by leading every lap but one. He also finished second at Richmond. The No. 22 car car did not look great in practice, but Logano starts 11th in the race. I expect the No. 22 car to be one of the best once the green flag is waived Sunday night.

CHASE ELLIOTT ($8,700): I am quickly running out of allocations with Elliott, but I am not worried about it. He has been the most consistent driver in the Cup Series this year with 9.5 average finishing position through 16 races. Elliott looks like he may finish in the top-10 again Sunday night. The No. 9 car posted the fifth-fastest speed in practice and Elliott qualified ninth in the race. Elliott has been too consistent to fade at Iowa.

ALEX BOWMAN ($8,000): I know Bowman is going to be highly owned, but you almost have to play the No. 48 car Sunday night. Bowman starts 33rd and he has an average finishing position of 11th in the short track aero package this year. He will score 54 DK Points if he can finish 11th Sunday night.

CHRIS BUESCHER ($8,500): Buescher has four starts at Iowa Speedway in the Xfinity Series. That includes a trip to Victory Lane in 2015. Buescher has been good on tracks similar to Iowa this year. He finished second at Phoenix and ninth at Richmond. The No. 17 car did not post the fastest speed in practice, but I am not worried about it. Brad Keselowski told PRN Radio, “The track is going to be different Sunday night. That is what we are practicing for.” I expect that is the reason why Buescher was slower in practice. He should be good in the race.

JOHN H. NEMECHEK ($5,600): Nemechek has not been very good this year, but he is good at managing his tires. He started 26th and finished 6th in the tire management race at Bristol. That was good enough for 62 DK Points. Nemechek also looked good in the Xfinity Series race Saturday. I will take a chance with the No. 42 car at Iowa.



FANDUEL MODEL (Prediction Based on Stats)









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