Welcome to Las Vegas, the city of glitz, glamour, and high-stakes racing action! The NASCAR Cup Series continues its journey out west as drivers take on the steep banks of the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Sin City. With so many big names at the top of the odds heading into today’s race, the question on everyone’s mind is whether lady luck will be with one of them when the 400-mile roulette wheel stops. Or will a longshot hit the jackpot and surprise us all? As the anticipation builds, I’ve got you covered in my breakdown with all the need-to-know information for the DraftKings slate today. The slate locks today at 3:47 PM EST, so buckle up, get those line ups locked, and join the action!
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile intermediate track that most closely compares to other tracks on the circuit such as Kansas, Charlotte, Texas, and Michigan. Intermediate tracks have become a bit of a wild card in recent years. Restarts can get crazy and drivers who are aggressive can be rewarded, anyone with track position can compete. A lot of who runs up front for a cycle is determined by how those first few laps after a restart shuffle. This can make them one of the more difficult track types to predict. NASCAR seems to have achieved the parity they were desperately seeking, at least on Intermediates.
When building your lineups, it is important to focus on Position Differential (PD) and Dominator (Dom) points, as these are the two key areas that will drive success on this track type. In the 6 races in 2022 on 1.5 Non-High Tire wear Intermediates, 92% of the Top 10 scorers on DK came from PD and Dom performances, making them the primary focus for both cash and GPP lineups today. Intermediates are the quintessential NASCAR DFS track type, as most NASCAR DFS players take this approach on any given week. If a driver does not have Fast Lap, Laps Led, or Position differential upside today, then they are not worth playing. And if they have potential for all of the above, then even better. This is not the type of slate where we want to target drivers that start 10th and finish 5th.
Focusing on those dominator points, we see the aforementioned variance and parity on full display. In that same 6 race sample above, we had 27 performances on DraftKings of drivers scoring more than 15 Dom points. That’s over 4 drivers on average per race. Furthermore, those 27 performances were made up of 16 DIFFERENT drivers, in only SIX races. That’s almost half the field scoring 15+ Dom points on these tracks in 2022. For perspective, short flats only had 12 different drivers score the same percentage of Dom points in a 9 race sample.
You have to broaden your view on Dominator points today. Don’t expect one driver leading the majority of this race. The wealth will be spread out and we don’t have to only think in terms of just the high-priced guys for those dominator points today. In those 6 races, we had 15 performances of 10+ Dom points from guys priced BELOW $9k.
Drivers under $9k with 10+ Dom Points 2022 (Vegas, Texas, Kansas, Charlotte)
When looking at the list provided, you will see that these types of plays can provide a good opportunity to find leverage in GPPs. Two-thirds of the list are comprised of drivers who were less than 20% owned. They are often not as easy to spot as those PD plays in the same price range that most DFS players will gravitate to. Today’s slate provides similar opportunities.
Another important impact from the distribution of Dom points on these track types is the inability for high priced drivers, who do not offer PD upside, to pay off their salary. In those 6 Intermediate races in 2022 from the sample mentioned above, 16 times we saw a driver priced over $10k on DraftKings who started inside the Top 10. All but two of those drivers failed to hit 5x return on their salary, and only 3 finished inside the Top 6 in DK scoring on their slate. That is even despite the fact that 7 times they scored over 12 Dom points. It either wasn’t enough, or that dreaded variance mentioned above caught up with them,
Even if one of those guys did hit, they definitely didn’t break the slate. I think this presents us with a great opportunity in GPPs to take a stand and get off some of those higher priced guys that will draw a ton of ownership today, with relatively low risk. Build around the cheaper guys that will likely be lower owned, that also provide a touch of PD upside to go with Fast Lap and Laps Led potential.
Drivers Over $10k Starting Inside Top 10 2022 (Vegas, Texas, Kansas, Charlotte)
Below is my cheat sheet for today’s Pennzoil 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The cheat sheet includes data from the 8, similar, intermediate races in 2022. Those races include Las Vegas twice, Kansas twice, Texas, Charlotte, Michigan, and Pocono. I have also included the averages from the last 8 races at Las Vegas, and data from yesterday’s practice session. I have highlighted in green and purple the guys I am interested in today, purple I think could go low owned. Stats in blue are averages for the the that driver is driving for.
I’m going to go ahead and get the lock of the slate out of the way now. Tyler Reddick is a free square today. The man was already too cheap on the slate considering how great he and this #45 23XI Toyota both were on intermediates last season. Now, add in that he did not qualify due to an engine change and he is a lock from P34 for $8800. As my cohort Matty Ice says in situations like this, “you either completely fade or you go all in”, I’m going all in on Red Dog.
It’s hard to really make an argument against the top 3 of Logano, KB and Larson aside from what I already mentioned above. They could have strong days, run inside the top 5, lead laps, and still not pay off these salaries if the race flow goes like we saw on intermediates last year. Certainly odds are at least 2 of them are going to bust and you can bet they will be high owned with all 3 being atop the odds favorites. Not for the faint of heart, but YOLO.
Chastain is one guy above $10k I’m going to play. Super fast in both races here last year and was the fastest guy without a win on Intermediates last season. This team already showed speed last week at Cali and looked good off the truck again today. Busting melons or bust.
Ryan Blaney is one other guy starting inside the Top 10 that I like today. He comes with a little better price tag, but all the upside that his teammate Logano has to offer. Both Penske cars were fast here in the Fall and Blaney looked to have a rocket at Cali last week before his issues. Love the fact that he has a ton of fast laps here without leading a bunch.
I really like the JGR trio of Hamlin, Truex, and Bell in GPPs today. None of JGR showed a ton of speed in practice which could keep people away, but I’m not putting too much weight into practice speeds for a team that was spectacular on intermediates last season, #1 in both Avg Driver Rating and Avg Finish. All 3 were in the Top 7 in Fast Laps on this track type in 2022 and all 3 scored north of 10 Dom points in this race last year. If everyone is already locking in Reddick and with ownership going to the top guys, I think at least 2 of these JGR guys will come in way under what they should in ownership, and they all offer the opportunity for both PD AND Dom points! CCCCCCCCCombo!
I mentioned in my breakdown about the opportunity that intermediates present to find dominator points at a value and there are 3 guys that have that potential on the slate today. The first of which is Kevin Harvick. All the Fords looked really fast in practice and Harvick clocked in with Top 5 speed. Harvick used to be really fast here but struggled last season. He did win at Michigan though which is comparable and this car had speed last week at Cali.
The second guy that fits the value Dom mold for me today is Alex Bowman, The HMS camp looks to have some fast cars this weekend and you can target Bowman for a cheaper price tag than the others with some added PD upside. He won this race last year and has scored 87 fast laps in the last 7 Vegas races while only leading for 21 laps. Love guys that can run fast laps without leading and these HMS cars are hooked up.
Third but definitely not 3rd ranked on this list is Bubba Wallace. These 23XI Toyotas had just as much speed on intermediates as there JGR counterparts, if not more in some instances. Wallace got a win at Kansas last year and was charging at Vegas before things went sideways. Car has speed in practice and he should be a contender for the win today. Definite Combo upside here for Bubba from P13.
Next we get to the PD drivers. Working down in salary we come to Austin Dillon. Austin has started off the season strong with 9th last week at Cali, a 2nd at the Clash, and he was 3rd in the closing laps of the 500. Dillon was consistent on 1.5s in 2022 with an Avg finish of 14th. He finished 1th and 10th in both Vegas races last season.
So if you haven’t heard, Chase Elliott broke his leg snowboarding and will not be racing today. Filling in for him in the 9 car is Josh Berry. Josh starts 32nd and will likely get some attention in this 9 car. I’m avoiding him here, I think he just logs laps and uses the opportunity to learn. No one wants to go out an wreck Chase Elliot’s car. I don’t think he pushes things and I don’t expect much upside out of him here as a result.
Erik Jones starts P22 and showed solid Top 10 speed potential in practice yesterday. He had 3 top 10’s on intermediates in 2022 which includes an 8th place finish in the Fall Vegas race. He was boom or bust though with 3 finishes of 29th or worse as well. This team has underperformed a bit out of the gate to start the season and could use a solid Top 10 run today.
Daniel Suarez is another great PD option starting 24th. Suarez and Team Trackhouse had a ton of speed on intermediates last season, he just struggled closing them for solid finishes. His 110 Fast laps were 4th most in 2022. He had another impressive run last week where he ran inside the Top 5-6 for much of the race at Cali. Speed will not be an issue for this car today.
Chase Briscoe is another Ford I have interest in here who could go under owned that has some solid PD potential. This team found speed on intermediates at the end of the year last year with Top 5s at both Texas and Vegas. Another boom or bust type play, but worth the risk for Top 5 upside and low ownership.
Reason I think Briscoe will go under owned is 1, because of Suarez priced right above him, and 2, because of my next play, Ryan Preece priced right below him. I believe he draws all kinds of attention here starting 31st and will be pretty chalky. No denying he has upside though with the speed his SHR teammates have shown in practice. Only needs to finish around 18th to hit 5x value.
Aric Almirola is another SHR Ford that presents us with some PD potential. Almirola showed Top 10 speed in practice and even was Top 3 in 10 lap averages. He has 2 Top 10’s in the Last 8 Las Vegas races, which includes a 6th place finish in this race last year. He likely goes overlooked here with some of the other options priced below him.
I’m back on the Kaulig duo again this week of Allmendinger and Haley. The Dinger finished 9th in the Fall at Vegas last year and he looks to have Top 10 speed again today according to his practice speeds. Vegas is one of his better 1.5 mile tracks and he looks to be in line for a solid day. Haley was consistent on intermediates in 2022 with 5 finishes of 19th or better, which includes a 14th and 17th finishes in the two Vegas races last season.
Rounding out the pool today is Harrison Burton starting DFL for $5600. Team Penske looks to have a ton of speed this week and that should bode well for the Wood Bros machine. His primary car looked fast before putting it into the fence, but his back up car should be fine as well, especially considering he can only go up. He finished 16th in this race last year and showed speed in qualifying in the fall before a 26th place finish.
Below is Cash Core. Larson seems like the safest up top to not lose spots and to score fast laps. Focus on PD with the rest of the build. No reason to chase any more dominators in cash.
Below is my core for GPP’s.