The NASCAR Cup Series still hasn’t left the state of Florida, but after back-to-back races at Daytona, we will shift venues for this weekend’s race. Homestead-Miami Speedway, a mile-and-half oval with progressive banking and an abrasive surface, will host Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400. For the first time in 2021, the dominator categories will take center stage when it comes to building NASCAR DFS lineups at DraftKings.
Thanks to the crashes and pack racing at the Daytona 500 and the limited number of laps at the Daytona Roval, we haven’t had to go out of our way to secure points in the laps led and fastest laps categories in the first two races. With 267 laps on tap at a non-drafting oval, that won’t be the case this weekend at Homestead.
Last year, four drivers led at least 27 laps at Homestead, and two drivers led at least 70 laps. All four started 11th or better, and three of them started from inside the top five, including pole-sitter Denny Hamlin. Hamlin would go on to lead a race-high 137 laps. More often than not, at these 1.5-mile ovals, you are going to have at least a couple of drivers pile up a significant amount of dominator points, and one driver is probably going to lead around 100 laps, if not more.
To be fair, there is still going to be plenty of value in the place differential category this weekend thanks to NASCAR’s qualifying metric that includes a driver’s position in the standings and their finish in the previous race. This early in the year, we have several big names who have had trouble in each of the first two races, relegating them to terrible starting spots. In cash lineups especially, don’t be shy about loading up on some of these big names coming from the back.
Chase Elliott ($11,000)
He had strong performances at tracks with high tire wear throughout last season, including his runner-up effort at Homestead when he led 27 laps and recorded 28 fastest laps. The No. 9 bunch has shown tons of speed out of the gate in 2021, and I expect the defending series champ to battle for the win and finish as one of the top scorers in the dominator categories Sunday.
Denny Hamlin ($9,600)
Hamlin is easily my favorite option to build around this weekend, and I am still unsure why the driver who delivered a dominating win at Homestead last year is so affordable. He led 137 laps and logged 31 fastest laps in that victory, and starting on the pole for Sunday’s race, Hamlin is in a perfect position for a repeat performance.
Tyler Reddick ($8,500)
I don’t often list mid-priced drivers as must-own options, but I’ll make an exception for Reddick at Homestead. After dominating the track at the XFINITY level, he wasted no time making his presence felt in his Cup debut here. Reddick gained 20 spots on his way to a fourth-place finish in last year’s event, leading three laps and logging a race-high 48 fastest laps. He will have to start back in 35th this weekend, giving him an enormous ceiling for a bargain price.
Kyle Busch ($11,800)
Busch’s 24th starting spot gives him an easy path to a solid point total, but he also offers dominator upside in addition to the place differential points. He has finished sixth or better in his last six Homestead starts, winning twice and leading 40+ laps three times. You are paying a premium, but you are all but guaranteeing yourself a strong core to build around.
Kyle Larson ($10,700)
His history of success running the high line at Homestead is going to drive up his ownership, and we have seen Larson pile up dominator points at this track on multiple occasions. Moving to Hendrick Motorsports should only help his chances of running well, and from the 17th starting spot, I think you can count on double-digit spots gained and points in both dominator categories.
William Byron ($9,100)
Byron went from 22nd to ninth at Homestead last year, earning points in both stages. A rough start has him rolling off 31st this weekend, but he has been able to finish in or around the top 10 at 1.5-mile ovals over the past couple of years. Byron should easily gain around 15 spots, and his ceiling is much higher.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,800)
Starting 37th for a quality team is more than enough to make DiBenedetto a desirable cash contest option. Throw in his top-15 run at Homestead last year, a midrange price tag, and a solid resume at high-wear tracks, and he warrants a spot on a majority of your cash lineups.
Ross Chastain ($7,400)
He only has two Cup starts at Homestead, both for underfunded teams, but Chastain has been strong at the track in the XFINITY Series for Kaulig Racing the past two seasons. His move to Chip Ganassi Racing this offseason gives him a chance to compete in a Cup race at Homestead for the first time. His 32nd starting spot positions him to exploit the differential category. At the very least, he should move towards the top 20 and provide a decent point total for the price.
Ryan Blaney ($10,400)
After posting lackluster results at Homestead throughout his career, Blaney emerged as a major player in last year’s race, leading 70 laps, logging 27 fastest laps, and ending up third. I expect Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch to be the popular options to pair with Denny Hamlin this weekend, and Blaney is a great against-the-grain play to any of them.
Kevin Harvick ($10,100)
There seems to be a lack of buzz around Harvick this weekend, which could create a golden opportunity in GPP contests. I know he struggled at Homestead last year, but multiple incidents destroyed what appeared to be at least a top-5 car. Keep in mind that Harvick had finished fourth or better in all six starts here in the No. 4 before 2020, leading 40+ laps five times. Starting fourth, he is more than capable of piling up dominator points. If you are fading guys like Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, or Kyle Larson, Harvick should be on the shortlist of alternatives.
Joey Logano ($9,300)
His 27th-place effort at Homestead from a year ago could drive down his ownership, but Logano still led 27 laps in that race, and he has a knack for delivering dominator points at the mile-and-a-half ovals. A front-row starting spot should help ensure that trend continues, making him a much cheaper pivot candidate to Chase Elliott or Kyle Busch.
Austin Dillon ($7,700)
I’m not a big fan of Dillon’s ability, but you can’t deny that he had a solid season at the 1.5-mile ovals a year ago. He’s also been reliable at Homestead, reeling off five straight top-15s. Dillon has finished 11th or better in his last four starts here, finishing seventh last season. He is set to start 22nd, and he could be a game-changer as an alternative to William Byron or Matt DiBenedetto.
Bubba Wallace ($7,000)
The jury is rightfully still out on Wallace’s ceiling for 23XI Racing, but the move to Toyota and relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing all but ensures he will have better equipment to work with in 2021. He will start 19th Sunday, and considering Wallace managed a 13th-place finish at Homestead in the No. 43 machine last year, a push for a top-10 finish can’t be ruled out. He is worth a look as a contrarian to the cheaper options starting deep in the field.
Erik Jones ($6,900)
Yes, the move to Richard Petty Motorsports is a downgrade in equipment, but as I just mentioned, Bubba Wallace drove the No. 43 to a top-15 at Homestead last year. With his history of success at high-wear tracks, including a win at Darlington, Jones is at least capable of delivering a similar performance. I love him as a cheaper pivot to guys like Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe.
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.