The NASCAR Cup Series has the week off, so we’re going to take a look back at the past 16 races from a daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings perspective. We’ll also briefly look ahead to the latter half of the season and into the playoffs.
It’s been quite the debut for the Next Gen car. We’ve seen four first-time winners, one new course (so far) and quite a bit of parity. Additionally, some drivers that were expected to dominate and win several races don’t have any wins, while four have two each.
As far as DraftKings goes, though, wins don’t always equal great fantasy scores. Here are some drivers who have done surprisingly well, as well as others who missed the mark (as far as DFS purposes).
Pleasant Surprises (and Good Average DraftKings Scores)
There was a lot of uncertainty all around this season, but perhaps none surrounding anyone more than Ross Chastain. No one knew quite how well he would adjust to Trackhouse Racing Team, even though he had much of the same team when he was with Chip Ganassi Racing. Chastain broke out in a big way, winning his first career Cup race at Circuit of the Americas and adding a second at Talladega Superspeedway.
It’s no surprise that he has the best average DraftKings score so far of 48.21875. Though Chastain earned his first two wins on a superspeedway and a road course, his strength seems to come at ovals over 1 mile in length. He has the second-best average DraftKings score in that category, 51.0833. What likely boosted his average was the Coca-Cola 600, where he placed 15th and earned 102.95 fantasy points.
It’ll be interesting to see just how far the entire Trackhouse organization can go this season. Chastain should continue to do well on the intermediate racetracks, and could be a wild card on road courses and plate tracks (including Atlanta Motor Speedway).
The series points leader didn’t earn his first victory until Dover Motor Speedway, but he was in contention on multiple occasions. Chase Elliott had amassed one top five and seven top 10s before that victory and led 50 laps at Phoenix Raceway. He probably would’ve won at Martinsville Speedway had he gotten out ahead of William Byron on pit road.
Based off of these results, you can see why he has the best average DraftKings score at tracks 1 mile or less in length (not including the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track). Elliott averages 71,425 fantasy points on this track type. His 10th-place result at Martinsville helped produce a DraftKings score of 102.3, about 20 more fantasy points than when he won at Dover.
He also has the second-best average DraftKings total on the plate tracks (Atlanta, Daytona International Speedway and Talladega). Though Corey LaJoie surpasses all drivers at 54.5667, Elliott comes in at 48.1833, earning top 10s in all three races.
I have to shout out Kyle Busch, who has the best average DraftKings score on ovals over 1 mile long. His 53.725 fantasy points beats even Chastain, and it’s no surprise why. The Joe Gibbs Racing pilot earned four top fives at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Busch also led several laps and recorded multiple fastest laps, increasing his DraftKings scores. His best fantasy total was 96.95 at Vegas.
He should keep going for the victory at these track types.
Not So Beautiful Letdowns (and Low Average DraftKings Scores)
“Why is Denny Hamlin a letdown when he has two victories?”
Unfortunately, Hamlin’s had some rough luck in addition to his high moments. It was almost like he found every way to lose in the first half of the year, and it didn’t help that his crew chief was off four weeks after he lost a wheel.
The Daytona 500 is where it all started for the three-time winner of this event. Since he’s usually good on this track type and he started back in 30th, many people played him on DraftKings. He ended up over 50% played in the $2.25 million Fantasy Racing Millionaire, according to LineStar. He was also one of the first to exit the race, finishing in 37th.
That’s just one of the 11 races in which he scored less than 20 DraftKings points, which heavily skews his average score (of 18.921875) below the curve. Hamlin looked like he was on a turnaround before Gateway, when Chastain knocked him into the wall. It’s unclear how Hamlin will do the rest of the season, but he is locked into the playoffs.
Cole Custer has had a really rough year, as he has yet to earn a top 10. His closest such finish came at Auto Club Speedway where he placed 11th and scored 42 DraftKings points. Although he’s scored more than 30 fantasy points in four races, he also has three negative scores and two less than 10. He’s averaging only 18.284375 fantasy points in the first half of the season.
Hopefully he can turn his season around and start knocking off some good finishes, but he’s yet to show any such consistency.
Looking on to the future, I wonder how long Kyle Larson will continue to be above $10,000. He’s had some really good fantasy results, but also several in the negative. I don’t know if he’s really worth that amount anymore, even though he nearly won at Charlotte.
A driver to keep an eye out for is Austin Dillon, especially on the ovals over 1 mile. He’s averaged over 39 fantasy points on these types of tracks and could be worth rostering in the future.
And can Trackhouse continue to show up on the road courses? Or will some of the other drivers get back to their winning ways? There’s four more left this year to find out, including three in the regular season.
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