Qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway is in the books, which means we can start to turn out attention to building some winning DFS lineups at DraftKings. I say "start to" because NASCAR's schedule this weekend has post-qualifying inspection slated to begin Sunday morning, and any driver who fails will have their qualifying time disallowed and be scored from the year.
Obviously, this can have massive implications for both DFS and season-long Fantasy NASCAR contests as drivers can gain a ton of potential points in the place differential category while simultaneously losing the chance to earn dominator points, at least in the early going.
Assuming the official starting lineup remains almost the same as the preliminary one, it looks like you have to figure out which driver starting near the front is going to be the best dominator candidate and pair them with a couple of the big names starting near the middle of the pack.
As they have done frequently this season, the Joe Gibbs Racing cars decide to sacrifice some speed in qualifying for setups that should handle much better during the race. You certainly can't argue with the results, but it does make Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and even Erik Jones excellent DFS options. That being said, they will still need some time to get to the front, and in the meantime, someone is going to be leading laps.
I think you can load up on JGR drivers in cash contests and make plenty of money, but if you want to take down the bigger GPP contests, I think you need to pair one or two JGR drivers with a dominator candidate starting up front. Someone like Kevin Harvick comes to mind.
Of course, this strategy could go out the window depending on how inspection goes. Make sure to check back tomorrow afternoon for updates, and you can always reach out to me on Twitter at @BPolking with any specific questions. Until then, take a closer look at my favorite NASCAR DFS plays at DraftKings for the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Kyle Busch ($11,500)
Busch won at Chicagoland last year, and he been one of the best at leading laps at the track. He has led more than 20 laps and recorded double-digit fastest laps in each of the last six races here, leading at least 46 laps five times. Busch has also led the second-most laps at the 1.5-mile tracks this season, leading laps in four of the five races. To top it off, he has a sizeable amount of place differential points available after qualifying 17th. Busch seems like a lock for a huge point total.
Kevin Harvick ($11,200)
While a lot of the bigger names are starting deeper in the field, Harvick qualified on the front row, putting him in great position to lead a lot of laps early. Considering he has led the double-digit laps in four of the five races at 1.5-mile tracks this year and the most laps overall in those starts, there is a good chance he takes advantage of the track position to post a big point total.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900)
He has been as good as anyone in the series at Chicagoland recently, logging two wins and a fourth-place finish in the last three races here and leading 30-plus laps in three of his last four starts. Truex has also recorded double-digit fastest laps in four straight starts at the track, logging 60-plus fastest laps twice. With the Joe Gibbs Racing cars focused on race trim, he is scheduled to start 18th. The place differential points only add to his huge ceiling.
Joey Logano ($10,100)
While he hasn't shown the dominator upside at the 1.5-mile ovals of some of the other big names, Logano has scored the fifth-most driver points in those five races, winning at Las Vegas and finishing second at Charlotte. He has also finished eighth or better in five straight starts at Chicagoland and has plenty of differential points to pad his score with after qualifying 19th.
Erik Jones ($8,900)
Jones usually gets the job done at the 1.5-mile ovals, and he has three Top 10s in the five races this season. Throw out a tire issue at Charlotte, and he has a 6.8 average finish in the other four races. Jones finished sixth at Chicagoland last year, and like most of the JGR cars, he has some place differential upside. From the 21st spot, he has a solid floor and tons of upside for a midrange price.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400)
He starts way back in 29th after completely missing it in qualifying, but in the five races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, Suarez owns a 12.4 average finish and has a couple of Top 10s. With so many spots to gain, he looks a perfect, low-priced cash option.
Paul Menard ($7,300)
He isn't a flashy pick, but Menard has slipped into the Top 15 in three of the five races at the mile-and-a-half tracks this year, and he also has consecutive Top 15s at Chicagoland. After qualifying back in 25th, he also has the place differential category working in his favor. Menard is another safe, affordable option to use in a balanced cash lineup.
Chris Buescher ($6,800)
After qualifying 28th, Buescher seems determined to remain one of the biggest DFS bargains at the 1.5-mille tracks. In the five previous races, he owns a 12.6 average finish and has gained an average of 10.6 spots per race, gaining at least eight spots in four of those five starts. He is a no-brainer source of cap relief for cash contests.
Brad Keselowski ($10,600)
Keselowski has led double-digit laps in four of the five races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and he is the only driver with multiple wins in those starts. He has also managed eight straight Top 10s at Chicagoland, winning twice and leading laps in seven of those eight races. Starting 12th, he falls in between a frontrunner candidate like Kevin Harvick and obvious place differential guys like Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. If you like fading the obvious plays, Keselowski should be an excellent alternative.
Chase Elliott ($9,700)
Elliott has become a DFS force at the mile-and-a-half tracks, leading 35 or more laps in the last three races. He has also notched a pair of Top 3 finishes in three starts at Chicagoland, and he has led 40-plus laps twice. With Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano all starting outside the Top 15, Elliott could be a little under-owned from the 13th spot, but he still has a solid combination of differential and dominator upside. Swap him in for one of the popular plays.
Denny Hamlin ($8,500)
Chicagoland has quietly been one of his better tracks, and Hamlin has reeled off five straight finishes of seventh or better here, winning the 2015 race. More importantly, he has shown excellent speed all weekend, and despite being set up for race trim, he managed to qualify in the Top 10. I think he could be a sneaky source of dominator points, and this price tag really opens things up.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,100)
Stenhouse has been solid at the 1.5-mile tracks with the 2019 rules package, posting an 11.2 average finish in the first five races. He has two finishes of sixth or better in those starts and has finished 18th or better in all five. Yes, he can drive over is head at times, but starting back in 26th, he is not as risky as his reputation suggests. I love him as a pivot to Daniel Suarez or Paul Menard.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,700)
It has been a brutal year at the mile-and-a-half tracks for DiBenedetto so far, and he heads to Chicagoland with a 29.6 average finish in the first five races. Still, this a driver who has flashed Top 20 potential at times, and he is starting way back in 30th. DiBenedetto could be a great contrarian to Chris Buescher.