NASCAR DFS: Coca-Cola 600 DraftKings Preview
On the heels of the All-Star Race, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will stay at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend, but the track will be one of the few things that stays the same. Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race of the season, and the marathon event is a far cry from the 80-lap shootout we had last Saturday night.
More importantly from a DFS standpoint, the experimental aero package used during the All-Star Race won’t be in play this weekend, which means Sunday’s race should have a somewhat of a similar feel to the four previous races at 1.5-mile ovals we have had this season.
I use the word somewhat because the Coca-Cola 600 is a unique event. It is the only time we run 400 laps at a mile-and-a-half track, putting the points available in the dominator categories on par with a short track event. Throw in the drastic temperature changes that occur as the sun sets and darkness takes over, and it isn’t uncommon to see different drivers run well during different portions of the race.
It also isn’t uncommon to see higher attrition rates in this race. After all, the cars are being asked to go 100 miles more than in any other race, so mechanical issues tend to be more common. Not to mention the fact the more laps also means more opportunities for wrecks and other problems. Just by staying out of trouble, a driver could steal a decent finish Sunday night.
With that in mind, this is one of the few races at a 1.5-mile oval where I will use lineups with three and four potential dominators and pair them with a couple of cheaper options. That strategy can obviously change if some bigger names end up starting deep in the field, but overall, I plan to try to take advantage of all the points up for grabs in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
Make sure to check back after qualifying for my updated picks and lineup strategies, but in the meantime, here is a closer look at the drivers I’ll be targeting at DraftKings for Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
Kevin Harvick ($12,200)
Harvick has just been on another level in 2018, especially at the 1.5-mile ovals. In the first four races, he has three wins and a second-place finish and has been an absolute monster in the dominator categories. Harvick’s 561 laps led at the mile-and-a-half tracks are 426 more than any other driver, and he has led at least 79 laps and topped 60 fastest laps in all four races. Don’t expect the dominance to stop at Charlotte where he has a series-best nine Top 10s in the last 10 races.
Kyle Busch ($11,100)
He actually hasn’t had the best luck at Charlotte over the years, but speed usually isn’t an issue. Busch has led 993 laps here overall, leading more than 20 laps in both races last season. Plus, his performance at the 1.5-mile ovals this year speaks for itself. He has cracked the Top 10 in all four races so far, compiling a 5.0 average finish and leading more than 100 laps in a win at Texas. Busch is a safe bet for some dominator points this weekend.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700)
While he hasn’t quite been Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick at the 1.5-mile ovals this year, Truex still has three Top 5s in the first four races. He has also amassed an impressive resume at Charlotte. In the last six races at the track, he has notched five Top 5 finishes, winning twice and leading more than 90 laps four times. Truex has recorded double-digit fastest laps in every race in that span, topping 60 fastest laps three times.
Joey Logano ($10,000)
Logano has become a staple of my cash lineups thanks to his consistency, and heading into Sunday’s race, he has 10 Top 10s in 12 races so far. Perhaps more importantly, he has finishing seventh or better in all four races at 1.5-mile ovals while compiling a 5.5 average finish.
Denny Hamlin ($9,200)
Hamlin routinely has Top 5 speed but is as mistake prone as anyone in the series, making him one of the most frustrating drivers to use. However, Charlotte is a place where you might want to take a chance on him. He has cracked the Top 10 in six of his last seven starts here, delivering four Top 5s in his last five starts and leading double-digit laps in three straight.
Ryan Blaney ($8,900)
When hunting for alternatives for dominator points, Blaney needs to be on your short list. His 418 laps led are the third most in the series, and his performance at Kansas a couple of weeks ago was prove that he can lead laps at a 1.5-mile oval. In lineups where you fade Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, Blaney’s high ceiling could come in handy.
Kurt Busch ($8,300)
Don’t forget about the older Busch brother this weekend. He has finished eighth or better three of the four races at 1.5-mile ovals in 2018, leading 40-plus laps twice. He has also finished 11th or better in six of his last seven starts at Charlotte.
Erik Jones ($8,200)
Jones finished seventh in his Coca-Cola 600 debut last year, and he is quickly becoming one of the better options at the 1.5-mile ovals. He has finished 11th or better in all four races at mile-and-a-half ovals this year, compiling a 7.5 average finish. Jones also led more than 60 laps at Texas earlier this year, so there is some sleeper dominator potential here for a midrange price.
Austin Dillon ($7,700)
Yes, he won the Coca-Cola 600 last year thanks to a fuel mileage gamble, but it is really Dillon’s overall record at Charlotte that has my attention. He has a 14.1 average finish in eight starts here, finishing 16th or better seven times while gaining an average of 5.8 spots per race. If he starts in the back half of the field, Dillon should be a solid option.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,300)
Roush Fenway Racing isn’t where it needs to be in terms of speed, but Stenhouse has found a way to be competitive at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, finishing 16th or better in three of the four races. He also has a decent record at Charlotte, notching four Top 15s in his last five starts. Qualifying will go a long way to determining his value, but at the very least, he could be an option for GPPs.
Daniel Suarez ($7,100)
He's been streaky this season, but this is still a cheap price tag for a driver who has shown Top 10 potential. Suarez also had a ton of success at Charlotte last season as a rookie, finishing 11th in the Coca-Cola 600 and sixth in the fall race. At this price, he could be worth a look no matter where he starts.
Kasey Kahne ($6,700)
His value is qualifying dependent, but if Kahne starts toward the back of the pack, he should be a useful low-priced play. He has managed to finish 21st or better in all four races at 1.5-mile tracks this year, and he usually has a decent feel for Charlotte. His four wins here are his most at any track, and he has won the Coca-Cola 600 three times. Even in Leavine Family Racing equipment, I think Kahne can crack the Top 20.
David Ragan ($5,800)
Ragan has been piling up Top 25 finishes all year, and he’s been surprisingly consistent at the 1.5-mile tracks. He has compiled a 20.5 average finish in the first four races, finishing 23rd or better in all four and gaining at least six spots in three of those. As long as he qualifies outside the Top 25, Ragan should be one of the safest sources of significant cap relief.