The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week for the Pennzoil 400. This will be the first of three races on the West Coast. The race can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
The race last week at Atlanta was in the driver’s hands. Drivers could move around the track to find the line that worked best for their car. That will not be the case this week. Las Vegas is the ultimate crew chief race. The cars will need the perfect setup to get through the tricky corners and bumpy track in the desert. There is little a driver can do to make the car better. If the team unloads with a lot of speed Friday, they will probably have a lot of speed Sunday.
Stats for Atlanta
There are five key stats that should be evaluated to see which drivers will be good picks for the race Sunday.
Driver Rating is a combination of a driver’s average running position, average finishing position and average speed at a track. I like to use this stat to see who really runs well at Las Vegas.
Finishing Position is simply the average finishing position of each driver in the last three races at Las Vegas.
Quality Pass % is the amount of passes a driver made in the last 15 laps of the race. This is important because you want drivers who move forward at the end of the race and not drivers who lose positions on the track.
Fastest Laps are when a driver posts the fastest speed on a lap during the race (DraftKings awards points for fastest laps).
DraftKings Points are the most important stat. The goal in DraftKings is to outscore your competition so having the drivers who typically score the most points at a track are critical to your team’s success.
I ranked all of the drivers according to the key stats above and then sorted them by their average ranking for all of the categories.
Here are the top drivers for Las Vegas…
|Rating||Finish||Quality %||Fastest Lap||DK Points||Avg. Ranking|
1. Brad Keselowski $9,400
2. Martin Truex Jr. $10,500
3. Joey Logano $9,300
4. Kyle Busch $10,000
5. Kevin Harvick $10,300
6. Denny Hamlin $9,100
7. Ryan Blaney $8,700
8. Ryan Newman $7,100
9. Jamie McMurray $7,400
10. Jimmie Johnson $8,900
11. Kyle Larson $9,800
12. Clint Bowyer $8,100
13. Kasey Kahne $6,200
14. Kurt Busch $8,500
15. Paul Menard $6,900
Since there are 267 laps in the race Sunday, there will be 66.75 points available for leading laps and 133.5 points available for fastest laps. There will be 58 fewer laps in this race from what we had last week at Atlanta. I do not recommend changing our strategy too much for the Pennzoil 400.
The trend at Las Vegas is to have the laps led dominated by 4 to 5 drivers. The only exception in the last 4 races occurred last year when Martin Truex Jr. led 150 laps and Brad Keselowski led 89 laps. I think we will see 3 main dominators this week and two of them should be Truex and Keselowski.
Last week tire wear really dictated who ran the fastest laps. The cars on fresher tires had faster laps then the drivers who where on older tires. That will not be the case at Las Vegas. The trend at this track is for the driver who is leading the laps will also post the fastest laps in the race. This will make the dominator drivers even more important this week. Their bonus points for laps led and fastest laps will add up quickly when they are leading the race.
Selecting two dominators for each DraftKings contest will be my strategy this week. I can almost guarantee Martin Truex Jr. will be one of them. I will wait until final practice to see who my other dominator driver will be.
The four remaining spots on my team will be made up of value picks (drivers who start inside the top 15 with a good chance of finishing in the top 10) and cheap drivers (drivers who start in the back that should move forward 5-8 spots).
Top DraftKings Drivers
Most fantasy sites look at the starts for the last 10 years when they determine their picks. I use the “What have you done for me lately” approach with my picks. The cars change aerodynamics packages so often and drivers switch teams so often that I think it is better to only go back 3 years when evaluating my picks. Here are the drivers who scored the best in the last 3 Drafting’s Contests at Las Vegas:
2017 DraftKings Points at Las Vegas
- Martin Truex Jr. 115.5
- Brad Keselowski 89
- Jimmie Johnson 61.25
- Chase Elliott 55.5
- Joey Logano 50.75
- Kyle Larson 48
- Denny Hamlin 47.5
- Aric Almirola 46
- Jamie McMuuray 40.5
- Trevor Bayne 38
2016 DraftKings Points at Las Vegas
- Jimmie Johnson 86.5
- Joey Logano 80
- Kyle Busch 76
- Brad Keselowski 71.5
- Ryan Blaney 51
- Kevin Harvick 46.75
- Kurt Busch 43.5
- Austin Dillon 41.5
- Jamie McMurray 41
- Ryan Newman 40
2015 DraftKings Points at Las Vegas
- Kevin Harvick 138
- AJ Allmendinger 59.5
- Denny Hamlin 55
- Ryan Newman 53.5
- Martin Truex Jr. 52.5
- Joey Logano 48.25
- Brad Keselowski 46.75
- Paul Menard 45
- Ryan Blaney 37
- Kyle Larson 34
Brad Keselowski ($9,400) and Joey Logano ($9,300) are the only 2 drivers show up in the top 10 in DraftKings scoring in the last three races at Las Vegas. Team Penske has had a lot of speed in the first two races. If they look fast in practice, Keselowski and Logano will be good dominator picks for the race this week. I think both of these drivers are a little underpriced this week as well.
Practice will be very important this week. Be sure to check out my Garage Talk Notes posted Saturday evening. I plan to have my Final DraftKings picks posted Sunday morning.
There are five drivers I will be focusing on in practice this week: Jamie McMurray ($7,400), Daniel Suarez ($7,300), Ryan Newman ($7,100), Paul Menard ($6,900), and AJ Allmendinger ($6,000). Each of these drivers is underpriced this week. If they look fast in practice they will be great value picks for the race Sunday.
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($6,700), Alex Bowman ($7,900) and William Byron ($7,200) did not show up in my model I ran for this race because two of them (Wallace and Byron) have not competed in a MENCS race at Las Vegas and Bowman was in a crappy car when he ran here 3 years ago. I will be watching these drivers to see if they will have value Sunday.
Good luck this week!!!
If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR).