DFS NASCAR Picks for Cup Series

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The NASCAR Cup Series will compete on the street course in Chicago this weekend. This will be the second trip to the Windy City for NASCAR on the road course. The race last year was a mess. The pre-race concerts were canceled; the race was delayed by weather and then shortened because of darkness. The schedule looks much better this year, so it should be one big party in Chicago this weekend. The Grant Park 165 can be seen Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on NBC.

 

PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

The Cup Series had some time to shake down their cars for the Grant Park 165 Saturday. The Chicago Street Course is too long for the drivers to make many long-runs in practice, so we will have to build our lineups off of the single-lap speed, qualifying position, results from last year’s race and the stats from the road course races in 2024.

Here are the practice speeds for the Grant Park 165

 

 

 

CUP SERIES STATS AT CHICAGO

It is tough to learn anything from the stats from last year’s race in Chicago. Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson, Shane van Gisbergen and AJ Allmendinger dominated the first two Stages. They all decided to pit before the end of the Stage to get fuel to reach lap 78. NASCAR decided to shorten the race, so the drivers who stayed out were rewarded. SVG and Larson were able to recover, but Bell, Reddick and Allmendinger were not able to get their track position back. Bell, Reddick and Allmendinger were a lot better than their stats suggests.

I will still use the stats from the race in Chicago last year and combine it with the stats from the two road course races this year (COTA and Sonoma). That should give us an idea of which drivers were good last year at Chicago and which drivers have their road course program under control for Sunday’s race.

Here are the stats from the race at Chicago last year and the road course races this year, sorted by DFS Points…

 

 

DRAFTKINGS STRATEGY

One race at a track is not enough data to predict how the race Sunday should play out. I looked at all of the road course races (including the race in Chicago last year) to see how many dominators there are on tracks similar to the Chicago Street Course. The race Sunday should be a two dominator race. The main dominator should lead roughly 32 laps and score 14 fastest laps (14.3 dominator points). The second driver should lead roughly 28 laps and score 14 fastest laps (13.3 dominator points).

It would be great to capture all of the dominator points, but we need to focus on finishing position for the race in Chicago. There are only 75 laps in the race, so the dominator points are not as important this week as they are on the oval tracks. Building a balanced lineup with six drivers with a good chance to finish in the top-10 could be the winning strategy Sunday.

The drivers with the best chance to dominate the race Sunday include Kyle Larson, Shane van Gisbergen, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell

The drivers with the best chance to score place differential points are Martin Truex Jr., AJ Allmendinger, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Joey Logano and Chase Briscoe

 

 

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.

 

 

DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST LINEUP

SHANE VAN GISBERGEN ($10,000): SVG will be back in the No. 16 car for Kaulig Racing this weekend. He is back to defend his win last year. SVG really put on a show on the streets of Chicago last year. He has a lot of experience on these types of tracks. SVG posted the fourth fastest speed in practice and qualified fifth for the race. SVG has a good chance to win again in Chicago.

CHASE ELLIOTT ($9,600): Elliott did not have a good race in Chicago last year, but he benefited from NASCAR’s decision to shorten the race and finished third. Elliott even said after the race, “We qualified horribly (26th), we had no speed in the first two Stages, but Alan (Gustafson) made the right calls and we were rewarded with a third-place finish.” I like Elliott this week because he said he is starting to figure out the feel he needs in the Gen-7 car on the road courses. Elliott posted the seventh-fastest speed in practice. The No. 9 car starts 18th. Elliott has a great chance to score a lot of place differential points Sunday.

MARTIN TUREX JR. ($9,200): Truex used to be the best driver on the road course in the previous generation of car. He is starting to figure out the feel he needs in the Gen-7 car on the road courses. Truex won at Sonoma last year, finished seventh on the Indy Road Course, sixth at Watkins Glen and 10th this year at COTA. Truex is just too good to fade from the 24th starting position Sunday.

AJ ALLMENDINGER ($7,700): There is no doubt that Allmendinger is one of the best road course drivers in the field. He has a habit of wrecking some really good cars in these races, but Allmendinger is starting to become more consistent. He has finished his last four road course races in the top-four. That includes a trip to Victory Lane at the Charlotte Roval last year. Allmendinger hated his car Saturday, but he does not need a good car to finish in the top-12 from the 37th starting position.

TODD GILLILAND ($6,800): Gillialnd is typically one of the best cheap drivers to use in your lineups at the road courses. He started 14th and finished 10th in his last road course race in Sonoma. He also started 25th and finished 19th on the street course in Chicago last year. I will take a chance with Gilliand this week and hope he score me some more place differential points and finish in the top-12.

DANIEL HEMRIC ($5,100): I will use Hemric as a “punt play” in my Cash Context lineup. At least we know Hemric has some good notes to work with since he is teammates with Shave van Gisbergen and AJ Allmendinger this weekend. Hemric started 34th and finished 28th in the last road course race at Sonoma (21 DK Points). I just need Hemric to do that again at Chicago.

 

 

DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP

* I will admit that this lineup looks like shit on paper, but sometimes those are the winning lineups in DFS. The rod course races often get flipped upside down with pit strategy and this allows some drivers who have no business running up front to finish in the top-10. That is what I am expecting to happen this weekend with this lineup.

TYLER REDDICK ($9,800): There is no doubt that Reddick is one of the best road course drivers in the Cup Series. He looked really good at Chicago last year. Reddick qualified second, finished second in Stage 1, third in Stage 2, but was the victim on NASCAR shortening the race after the No. 45 car completed their pit stop. Reddick looks fast again this weekend. Everyone will play Kyle Larson and SVG as their top dominators. I will pivot to Reddick.

CHRIS BUESCHER ($9,000): Buescher has been the most consistent driver on the road courses. He has finished 11 of the last 12 road courses races in the top-10. Buescher looked lost last year at Chicago when the track was wet. He came to life when the track dried out and the race became a more traditional road course race. I am not sure Buescher will win Sunday, but he should extend his streak of top-10 finishes on the road courses.

MICHAEL MCDOWELL ($8,600): McDowell looked really good in the streets of Chicago last year. He qualified sixth, finished fifth in both Stages and finished seventh in the race. McDowell won on the road course in Indy last year and he finished second at Sonoma last month. McDowell is just too cheap for the speed his car has and the talent he has at these types of tracks. I will take a chance with McDowell as a dominator for only $8,600.

KYLE BUSCH ($7,700):  I know Busch has sucked this year and it is hard to trust him in DFS, but that reputation should lower his ownership this week. Busch has been pretty good on the road courses since he joined Richard Childress Racing. Busch has an average finishing position of 10th on the road courses in the No. 8 car. That includes a fifth place finish at Chicago last year. Busch looked horrible in practice, but he did last year too. He was still able to use pit strategy to steal a top-five finish. I am hoping the No. 8 team can do it again this weekend.

JOEY LOGANO ($7,600): Logano will have some momentum this week after his win in Nashville. Logano is a high risk, high reward driver on the road courses. He isn’t the best driver in the field at these types of tracks, but his team is good at using pit strategy to steel Logano track position. That is what they did last year when Logano finished eighth at Chicago. I will play the No. 22 car and hope Logano can sneak into the top-10 again this week.  

AUSTIN CINDRIC ($7,500): Cindric is one of the more underrated road course drivers. He started 31st and finished sixth in the streets of Chicago last year. The No. 2 car looks fast again this weekend. Cindric has the talent to run up front on the road courses. He just needs his team to get him some track position. It happened last year and I will play Cindric Sunday and hope he can finish in the top-10 again in Chicago.

 

 

FANDUEL MODEL (Prediction Based on Stats)

 

 

FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP

 

 

FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP

 

 

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