The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings Coca-Cola 600 slate locks at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($11,300) - He’s fast everywhere. Larson is fast on any type of track surface, be it dirt, asphalt or underwater. That was the joke, but last week, he proved he actually is fast underwater. In the last high-downforce race, Larson led the most laps.
2. Martin Truex Jr. ($11,100) - Charlotte is Truex’s playground. He’s been dominant in the low-downforce package and the high-downforce package. The No. 19 team does not always nail the setup, but only Larson’s team has been more consistent with that.
3. Denny Hamlin ($10,800) - He didn’t quite have the setup at Homestead, but a speeding penalty on lap 208 ruined his day. In the other three high-downforce races, Hamlin had a top-five driver rating.
4. Kyle Busch ($10,200) - This is the first time teams are practicing at an intermediate track in over a year. Busch won the last intermediate track race, but it wasn’t a dominant win. The last time he got to practice for the Memorial Day race, Busch scored the second-most DKFP.
5. Ryan Blaney ($9,000) - The last three intermediate tracks fall into the cookie cutter category. They vary in tire wear, but none are considered smooth surfaces. The one constant is that these races have been high-grip and high-speed, which favors Blaney. The Coca Cola 600 will be unseasonably cool, which also favors Blaney.
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6. Alex Bowman ($9,400) - The Coca-Cola 600 often starts with 90-degree temperatures, and then concludes under cool temperatures. Bowman typically races well in the high-downforce package with a cool, high-grip track. The high in Charlotte on Sunday is 69 degrees. Bowman will be a threat to lead laps this weekend.
7. Chase Elliott ($10,500) - Last year, Elliott had the best car at Charlotte, and it’s not debatable. He worked though traffic and was in control of the Coca-Cola 600 in the final stage, but a late-race caution and an ill-advised pit stop cost him the win. Days later, in the second Charlotte race, Elliott won.
8. Brad Keselowski ($9,700) - In the 2020 Coca-Cola 600, Keselowski stole the win. The leader chose to pit during the caution on lap 399 of 400, Keselowski stayed out and snuck away with the win. That’s BK’s MO these days. He’s no longer a dominant force; he’s a crafty veteran.
9. Kevin Harvick ($10,000) - It looked like Harvick was about to turn the corner at Atlanta. Despite a devastating valve stem issue, his car was as fast as the leader’s. Unfortunately, at the next intermediate track race, Harvick looked lost again.
10. Joey Logano ($8,800) - The No. 22 team has looked lost in the high-downforce, low-horsepower package this season. Logano has the 13th-best driver rating rank in high-downforce races. Chris Buescher is ranked higher than Logano.
11. William Byron ($9,200) - At Homestead, Byron earned 40 hog points (fast laps and laps led points). He tallied 20 hog points at Las Vegas. He could not replicate those performances at Atlanta and Kansas, but no one can when Larson is eating up all of the hog points.
12. Chris Buescher ($6,700) - It’s time to step back and ask the question, “What could Buescher do in elite equipment?” He won an Xfinity championship in elite equipment. He might not be in SHR equipment this week, but his Roush car has been solid.
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,400) - At Kansas, Stenhouse ended up on the wrong end of a questionable call by NASCAR, then got caught up in a wreck. He’s been a top-15 driver nearly every week — but with Stenhouse, wrecks will happen.
14. Austin Dillon ($7,700) - He’s a former Coca-Cola 600 race winner. That’s almost impossible to believe, but it proves that the best car does not always win. In fact, the best car usually does not win. If that were the case, then Larson would win every week.
15. Matt DiBenedetto ($7,500) - In the high-downforce races, DiBenedetto is a threat because of his success on restarts. It’s hard to pass in this package, so most of the spots gained in this form of racing are on pit road or on restarts. DiBenedetto will fail if there are too many green flag runs, but if there are multiple restarts to close out the race, then he can earn a top-five finish.
16. Tyler Reddick ($8,200) - This team struggles to put together complete races when they only have to run 400 miles. This is a 600-mile race. Reddick will need plenty of cautions to earn a top-10 finish.
17. Christopher Bell ($8,600) - Intermediate tracks and the high-downforce package have not been one of Bell’s strengths. On the other hand, JGR has fared pretty well with this package. It’s only a matter of time before Bell puts it all together. No one expects Bell to contend, but no one thought Dillon could win the Coca-Cola 600 either.
18. Kurt Busch ($8,400) - In the last 11 races, Busch has not had a top-10 driver rating. He’s been a top-15 driver, and that should keep him on the lead lap. If there is late-race caution drama, then he can work. But Busch won’t work if there are the typical, lengthy Memorial Day race green flag runs.
19. Ryan Newman ($6,400) - It would not be a surprise to see Newman’s team go with a heavy downforce setup. The added drag will result in a poor qualifying position, but the added downforce will allow the car to handle better on long runs. At the end of the race, Newman will be doing what he always does: blocking the leader in order to hang onto the lead lap.
20. Michael McDowell ($5,800) - Last season, Front Row Motorsports set up fast cars for the high-downforce races. McDowell was routinely a top-20 driver in those races. This season, he is even better. In his four races at 1.5-mile tracks, he has finished sixth, 17th, 19th and 13th.
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