Set your roster for NASCAR's Round of 12 playoff finale
DraftKings’ daily fantasy NASCAR heads to Kansas Speedway this weekend for the Hollywood Casino 400. This race marks the third and final event of the second round in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The green flag flies Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Cars will hit the track on Friday at 1 p.m. for first practice, followed by Coors Light Pole Award qualifying at 6:15 p.m.
ELITE TIER: $9,500 and up
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800)
Kansas: 18 starts, one win, five top fives, six top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 15.9
Truex won the regular season race at Kansas back in early May. Starting third, he led 104 laps en route to his second win of the season. Since then, Truex has won four more races, three of them on 1.5-mile tracks, and remains the championship favorite with five races left to run. His Talladega wreck should be a blip on the radar screen this weekend as the No. 78 team has their final tune-up before the Round of 8.
Truex is the early dominator favorite this weekend. Expect him to run up front early and often out in the Midwest.
Kyle Busch ($10,300)
Kansas: 19 starts, one win, five top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 17.7
The second favorite to dominate this weekend is the 2016 spring Kansas race winner. Busch has put up great numbers at the track the past five races with five straight top fives, three fifth places, one third, and then the aforementioned win. Once one of his worst tracks, there's no better place for Busch to run with his back against the wall for the Round of 8.
Busch is a safe bet for another great finish at what is becoming one of his best tracks. Expect dominator points as he looks for stage bonuses to help him advance in the NASCAR playoffs.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,900)
Kansas: 22 starts, three wins, nine top fives, 17 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 9.6
Johnson holds the top ranking among active drivers at Kansas in win total (three), top fives (nine), top 10s (17), and average finish (9.6). To put it simply, Johnson is one of the best drivers to ever strap into a seat at Kansas.
Johnson broke an 11-race top-10 finish streak in 2014 after getting caught up in a wreck but, since then, he has one win and two more top fives. The seven-time champ did finish 24th in May, a mediocre performance but that should be considered an outlier given his track record.
Johnson is sitting on the cutline to make the third round of the playoffs, so he needs to have a great race this weekend. It's the type of event where the No. 48 team always comes through.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,000 – $9,400
Joey Logano ($9,300)
Kansas: 16 starts, two wins, six top fives, six top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 18.9
Logano is an interesting case study when looking at Kansas the past few seasons. In the spring of both 2016 and 2017, Logano crashed out of the track's 400-mile races for finishes of 38th and 37th. Yet in the fall events, he performs very well. In both the fall of 2014 and 2015, Logano won. In the fall of 2016, he finished third.
Should that pattern continue, Logano could be looking at another trip to Victory Lane this weekend, perhaps spoiling the championship hopes of one of the remaining playoff drivers. After leading the most laps at Talladega, posting a solid top-five finish it's possible the No. 22 team could get back on track to close out the year.
Matt Kenseth ($9,000)
Kansas: 23 starts, two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 13.1
Kenseth sits eight points below the cutline, so unless multiple drivers have a bad weekend, he enters in a must-win situation. Luckily, Kenseth has done just that at Kansas. He has two victories here, one in 2012 and the other in 2013. He has led over 100 laps in two of the last four races at the track and has not finished outside the top 15 since 2009.
Kenseth also ranks second in both top fives (seven) and top 10s (13) among active drivers at Kansas. It would be no surprise to see the No. 20 Toyota in Victory Lane Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($8,500)
Kansas: Five starts, two top fives, three top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 11.4
In only five starts, Blaney has shined at Kansas. He started on the pole back in May and led 83 laps. Winning the second stage, his No. 21 Ford challenged for the overall victory before fading to fourth.
In 2015, his debut season for the Wood Brothers, Blaney only ran 16 races, one of them being Kansas. In that race, he finished seventh and led five laps. The following spring, Blaney picked up his first Kansas top-five finish and has simply chugged on from there. He has an average finish of 11.4 through those five starts.
Blaney has a nine-point playoff cushion heading into this weekend. He needs to run a smooth race and keep it clean in order to make it to the Round of 8.
BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,900
Austin Dillon ($7,700)
Kansas: Eight starts, three top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 18.0
Dillon’s price given his recent track record at Kansas makes him one of the key drivers to look at this weekend. He finished sixth in both races there in 2016, both after qualifying outside the top 12. Earlier this season, he finished 16th, which was three positions higher than his 2017 season average.
Richard Childress Racing, out of the championship hunt is still looking to finish the season strong. If Dillon starts outside the top 20 this weekend, he wouldn’t be a bad choice for the middle of your lineup.
Ryan Newman ($7,600)
Kansas: 23 starts, one win, three top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish at Kansas: 17.6
Newman finished dead last at Kansas earlier this year, but throw that race out the window. He experienced an oil pump issue on lap 154, so the finish is not performance-related.
Prior to that run, Newman has been outstanding at this track. He finished 12th or better in six straight races and that streak included three top 10s. He ran seventh in this race back in the spring of 2016.
Newman has been one of the most consistent drivers all season but has continuously been priced inside the bargain tier. That is perplexing for a driver averaging a 15th-place finish through 31 races. Add in a second at Talladega, Newman's best run with a restrictor plate since the 2008 Daytona 500, and you've got momentum for the No. 31 team you shouldn't ignore.
(Top photo courtesy of NASCAR.com)