The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 slate locks at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($10,400) - It seems that the only driver that can beat Kyle Larson is Kyle Larson. A penalty forced Larson to start in the back last week, but he quickly drove to the front. He got busted speeding on pit road twice, but he still finished 7th.
2. Brad Keselowski ($10,200) - Phoenix was disappointing for Keselowski, but he wasn’t far off and that’s a different racing package that doesn’t matter much this week. So far in this package (high downforce, low horsepower), Keselowski had the 5th best driver rating at Homestead and the 2nd best driver rating at Las Vegas.
3. Kevin Harvick ($11,000) - This hasn’t been a great start to the season, but Atlanta is the perfect place for the season to turn around for Harvick. Last June, Harvick was not his normal dominant self at Atlanta because of the heat. The track cooled in stage three and Harvick crushed the field just like he has done in previous February races at Atlanta.
4. Denny Hamlin ($10,000) - Slow and steady wins the race. Despite not having a win, Hamlin has been in the optimal DFS NASCAR lineup three times this season and in back-to-back races.
5. Chase Elliott ($9,800) - There are plenty of excuses to explain disappointing races at Las Vegas and Phoenix. Elliott suffered damage on pit road, then later spun out at Las Vegas. He had to start in the back and earned a penalty during a crucial part of the Phoenix race. The weather will be cool in Atlanta this weekend, and Elliott tends to race well when cool weather adds grip to race tracks.
6. Martin Truex Jr ($9,600) - The first half of the Atlanta race belonged to Truex. The track temperature was 130 degrees, and Truex is one of the better drivers at hot, slick race tracks. During stage 3, cloud cover cooled the track by thirty degrees and Harvick took control. The weather will be cool this weekend, but Truex is fine at cool tracks. He should have won at a similar high tire wear race track last season in the Darlington night race.
7. Ryan Blaney ($9,200) - Not to belabor the point, but the weather matters this weekend. Blaney struggled during the first half of the June Atlanta race, but then came to life when the track cooled. Two of his best intermediate track races last season were during colder temperatures (Fontana and the night race at Homestead). This year, during a hot day race at Homestead, he struggled.
8. Kyle Busch ($10,700) - At some point, Busch will adjust to the new schedule for intermediate tracks or he won’t. It’s rumored that NASCAR will bring back practice next season. Why make major changes for the few remaining intermediate track races? Speaking of preparation, Busch is running a truck race, a dirt race in Bristol, and a Cup race back in Atlanta on Sunday. He doesn’t seem 100% focused on Atlanta.
9. Joey Logano ($9,400) - The #22 Penske team is not sure what is wrong with their high downforce package race cars. Logano’s car does not have long run speed and he’s been miserable on restarts in this package this season.
10. Tyler Reddick ($8,400) - His results are ugly. Reddick finished 2nd at Homestead, and likely would have won, if not for a poor restart on the last run of the race. Other than that, Reddick has not earned a top 20 finish. Particularly worrisome is that he did not have a top 20 car in the last intermediate track race at Las Vegas.
11. Cole Custer ($7,600) - This has been a tough season for Custer, but let’s be honest, it’s worse for DFS players. His dad runs Stewart-Haas Racing, he’ll be fine, but what about the poor DFS players? Cole Custer owes us a lot of money. He blew a tire while running in the top 10 at the end of the Homestead race. At Phoenix, he was in 15th place with 16 laps to go when Bubba Wallace dumped him.
12. Alex Bowman ($8,800) - The weather thread continues. Bowman has two intermediate track wins. He won on a cool March day in Fontana and in the summer race at Chicago. The latter might seem strange, but a summer time storm and clouds dropped the temperature to 70 degrees. Both of these tracks are high tire wear tracks like Atlanta.
13. William Byron ($9,000) - A busted valve stem ended his 2020 Atlanta race early, but DFS NASCAR players should feel comfortable leaning on Byron’s 2021 stats. Byron and his crew chief Rudy Fugle are sympatico. This combo won 7 truck races in 2017. They’ve already won once this season, and will only get stronger.
14. Ryan Newman ($7,100) - The Roush cars each earned top 20 finishes in both intermediate track races this season. A top 20 may seem insignificant to a driver that regularly churned out 15th place finishes in average equipment, but after last season, a top 20 is pretty good for Newman.
15. Matt DiBenedetto ($8,100) - This Wood Brothers car is fast, but DiBenedetto just can’t get the finishes that he deserves in the high downforce package. Chastain damaged DiBenedetto’s car at Homestead. A pit gun failed during the last pit stop at Las Vegas. A lot of DiBenedetto’s success can be attributed to strong restarts. That skill should not vanish, but the bad luck eventually will.
16. Kurt Busch ($8,300) - At Homestead, Kurt Busch had a great car. He was able to overcome an unscheduled green flag pit stop and work his way back into the top 10. At Las Vegas, his team flat out missed the setup. Which will it be this weekend?
17. Chris Buescher ($6,000) - Everything in comparison to the earlier stages of the Homestead race looks bad. If DFS players erase that moment of excellence from their minds, then Buescher looks like his normal self this season.
18. Christopher Bell ($7,800) - His car has been fast, but that’s not a surprise. This car is being set up by Adam Stevens and the former #18 JGR car crew. Bell’s biggest weakness is restarts in the high downforce package while running in the top 10. He was fine on the last restart at Las Vegas, but that was after digging out of holes created by previous poor restarts.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($6,300) - It’s time to start believing. His starting position is terrifying, but it was practically the same last week at a track where he has never ran well. Stenhouse was optimal last week. His car looks good and he’s racing smart.
20. Austin Cindric ($8,600) - It’s a Penske car starting dead last. Cindric does not have much experience in this racing package, but it’s easier to go from a low downforce race at Atlanta (Saturday Xfinity race) to a high downforce race at Atlanta (Sunday Cup race).
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