Kansas Speedway is the next stop on the Cup Series schedule, and after the place differential category took center stage last weekend at Talladega, laps led and fastest laps run points will be the primary path to NASCAR DFS success in Sunday’s Buschy McBusch Race 400.
The trip to Kansas will be the fourth race of 2021 at a mile-and-a-half oval, and in each of the first three, we have seen one driver lead more than 100 laps. In two of those three races, the same driver went to victory lane. Two of those three races also saw at least one other driver lead 40+ laps.
At the very least, I expect one driver to pile up a significant amount of dominator points on Sunday at Kansas, and there is a good chance that two or three drivers will post some of the top scores, thanks in large part to the dominator categories. Based on the first three races at 1.5-mile tracks, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have to be considered the top dominator candidates.
While nailing the top dominator(s) is a must, NASCAR’s qualifying formula combined with last weekend’s aftermath from Talladega has also created several significant opportunities in the place differential category. Some of these drivers are big names that need to be rostered heavily in all contests, but several quality mid-tier options should start deeper that should form a solid core for cash lineups.
Kyle Larson ($11,300 DK, $13,500 FD)
Larson will start back in 32nd after his engine issue at Talladega, but nobody has been better at the 1.5-mile tracks in 2021. He leads all drivers with a 2.3 average finish and 377 laps led in the three races, and he led more than 100 laps in his win at Las Vegas. He also started at the rear of the field in both Kansas races in 2018 but recorded a pair of top-5s, leading 101 laps in the spring race. Larson is positioned to be the top DFS scorer this weekend.
Denny Hamlin ($10,800 DK, $14,000 FD)
He has won two of the last three races at Kansas, and Hamlin nearly made it three straight here last fall. He has led 50+ laps and recorded double-digit laps in the last three Kansas races, and he has back-to-back top-5s at the mile-and-half tracks this year, leading 27 and 47 laps, respectively. Throw in a significant amount of place differential upside from the 20th starting spot, and Hamlin should be an anchor for DFS lineups Sunday.
William Byron ($8,800 DK, $9,500 FD)
Byron has notched three straight top-10s at Kansas, but it is his performance at the 1.5-mile ovals in 2021 that has my attention. He has finished eighth or better in all three races, and he has led laps in all of them, leading 100+ in a win at Homestead. Byron should be able to deliver a chunk of dominator points starting on the front row while contending for a top-5. He should be a tremendous value at his midrange price. Pair him with the big names starting deeper in the field.
Alex Bowman ($10,200 DK, $9,200 FD)
He has emerged as one of the better options at 1.5-mile ovals in recent years. Bowman has two top-10s in the three races this year, including a third-place run at Atlanta. He has also been excellent at Kansas throughout his career, finishing 11th or better in six of his seven starts, finishing third here last fall, and leading 60+ laps in a runner-up effort in the spring of 2019. Starting 25th, Bowman has both the high floor and high ceiling you want in a cash option, and he is a bargain at Fanduel in particular.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,000 DK, $13,000 FD)
After Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin, Truex is my favorite cash option among the big names. He starts 15th, so he has someplace differential upside, and he has cracked the top 10 in all three races at mile-and-a-half tracks this year, posting a 6.0 average finish. Truex has also finished sixth or better in six of the last eight Kansas races, winning twice and leading 30+ laps in two of his last three starts here.
Kyle Busch ($8,600 DK, $10,500 FD)
Busch might not be piling up dominator points, but he has still been dependable at the 1.5-mile ovals. He has finished in the top 10 in all three races this year, logging top-5s at Las Vegas and Atlanta. Busch has also finished 11th or better in nine of the last 10 Kansas races, leading 50+ laps last spring and finishing fifth in the fall. Priced among the midrange drivers, especially at DraftKings, and starting ninth, he looks like a safe, solid addition to cash lineups.
Erik Jones ($7,800 DK, $7,000 FD)
His results have been hit and miss with Richard Petty Motorsports, but Jones did deliver a top-10 at Las Vegas earlier this year. He also has one of the better records at Kansas. Jones has finished seventh or better in five of his last six starts here, albeit while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He has to start 27th Sunday, so even if his ceiling is lower in his current equipment, he can still post a solid score if he can challenge for a top 15. Jones is an affordable, low-risk option.
Austin Cindric ($6,700 DK, $6,200 FD)
Cindric will make his fourth career Cup start this weekend, and the future of Team Penske has proven to be a DFS asset in his first three races. He is gaining an average of 17.0 spots per race, and he finished 22nd at Atlanta in his only start to date at a 1.5-mile track. Cindric will roll off from 38th Sunday, and with nothing but upside in the place differential category, he is a no-brainer source of cap relief for cash lineups.
Ross Chastain ($6,500 DK, $5,500 FD)
His first season with Chip Ganassi Racing hasn’t been spectacular, but Chastain does own a 20.2 average finish after 10 races, and he has cracked the top 20 seven times. Two of those top-20 efforts came at 1.5-mile tracks, including a 14th-place effort at Atlanta. Set to start 24th, Chastain should gain a handful of spots and provide a decent point total for a low price.
Joey Logano ($11,100 DK, $12,000 FD)
This is a lot of money to pay for a driver who has been searching for speed at the 550-horsepower tracks, but Logano led 47 laps in a win at Kansas last fall. He will also start back in 29th after last weekend’s flip at Talladega. It will take more than a solid finish for Logano to hit value, but between his dominator potential and differential upside, he could be a great contrarian to Kyle Larson.
Chase Elliott ($10,400 DK, $11,500 FD)
He is off to a horrible start at the 1.5-mile ovals in 2021, but Hendrick Motorsports has been fast overall at these tracks, and Elliott has been strong at Kansas recently. He has finished sixth or better in four of the last five races here, picking up a win and leading 40+ laps three times. From the 17th starting spot, he is one of my favorite pivots to Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.
Brad Keselowski ($9,700 DK, $12,500 FD)
Team Penske has been much stronger at the 750-horsepower tracks, but Keselowski did manage a second-place finish at Las Vegas earlier this year. He also finished second and fourth in the two Kansas races last season and won here in the spring of 2019. Set to start from the pole, Keselowski will have the inside track to dominator points, and he could stay up front all afternoon. You are going to want some exposure to the pole-sitter.
Kurt Busch ($9,300 DK, $8,700 FD)
He will have plenty of place differential upside from the 28th starting spot, but Busch has been average, at best, for most of the season. His last top-10 came in the third race of the year, and he owns a 19.2 average finish overall. At his price tag, he is going to need a strong showing Sunday. Consider him a high-risk, high-reward contrarian to Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,200 DK, $6,800 FD)
Consistency has never been his strong suit, but Stenhouse has opened the year with three finishes of 13th or better at the mile-and-a-half tracks. He is starting 23rd Sunday, so there are some differential points to be had if he can continue the top-15 streak. Stenhouse is an aggressive play, especially for the price, but he could be a real X-factor as a pivot to Austin Cindric or Ross Chastain. His price tag is especially friendly at Fanduel this weekend.
Chris Buescher ($6,100 DK, $6,300 FD)
He can’t compete with the likes of Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain in terms of place differential upside, but if you want to fade either of those drivers while staying in the same price range, Buescher should be your go-to option. He starts 16th, but he cracked the top 15 in both Kansas races in 2019, and he has a 13.3 average finish in the three races at 1.5-mile ovals this year.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.