The Round of 8 begins in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Which drivers should you gamble on in your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineup? Let Joy Tomlinson of Frontstretch.com get you ready for the South Point 400, airing Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Teams are hoping for some "normal" races in this round of the playoffs after enduring a crash-filled event at Texas Motor Speedway, an unexpectedly tame Talladega Superspeedway, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in the Round of 12. Fantasy players are hoping for some normalcy, too, after chaotic finishes ruined potential paydays in a matter of seconds.
Las Vegas should provide that as the series heads west, another 1.5-mile racetrack that hasn’t been run at since the first part of this year. Can you trust those results from March, just the second intermediate oval the sport ever ran with the Next Gen chassis?
Since then, Cup teams have raced at Kansas Speedway and Texas in the playoffs, as well as the Charlotte oval on Memorial Day Weekend. These three 1.5-milers are relatively close in setup to LVMS, though the Texas race was a bit wilder with all the blown tires and crashes. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, Atlanta Motor Speedway is more like Daytona International Speedway than other 1.5-milers due to its new configuration; you don’t need to look at AMS results from this year.
I'd use a detailed look at these past races, along with the LVMS event in March, to help set your lineup. Lastly, take a look at this weekend's practice and qualifying results. Even in practice, when drivers won’t have much time on track, you can still see who has speed right off the bat and who might have hit on the right adjustments. And if a driver in good equipment has trouble, needing to start in the back, they’ll likely become a good option for your lineup.
Before I share which drivers I’m rolling the dice on this week, here’s a look back at the results from the Charlotte ROVAL:
I shifted from Ross Chastain to Austin Cindric after Chastain had a crash in the second round of qualifying Saturday (Oct. 8). Neither driver scored well, but Chastain's was significantly worse, as he had to head to the garage around lap 86 for a suspension issue.
As far as the other drivers in this lineup, Tyler Reddick lost some spots after the final restart; before that, he was ahead of Christopher Bell, who ended up winning. Michael McDowell was also running near the top 10 when a restart around lap 107 went awry for him. Sometimes, things just don't go your way.
The top score in the $3,000 Quarter Jukebox on DraftKings was 339.4 and had AJ Allmendinger, Bell, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher and Erik Jones.
As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each position lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the polesitter.
The DraftKings setup is bigger and better for 2022. Here are their rules for the road this season.
Now, onto my DraftKings picks.
Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this info to make your own.
NASCAR DraftKings Plays/Sample Lineup for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Denny Hamlin ($11,100)
Career at Las Vegas: 21 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 13.2
Hamlin's lone Vegas victory came last season in the playoffs after he led 137 laps. It was his third straight top five there, placing third in fall 2020 and fourth in the spring 2021 race. Unfortunately, Hamlin exited early from the March LVMS event due to a drivetrain issue, leaving him 32nd.
However, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing pilot, who is still alive in the playoffs, found success at other 1.5-mile courses this season. Hamlin took home the jackpot at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600 and went from 18th to fourth in the spring Kansas event. Additionally, he drove from 25th to second at Kansas last month.
Hamlin is also one of only three drivers to earn a top 20 in each race of the playoffs. You’ll need this kind of consistency and more from the most expensive driver on the slate if you want to win your contests, and if Hamlin has another good result like at Kansas, watch out.
Tyler Reddick ($10,100)
Career at Las Vegas: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 18.2
Reddick feels awfully pricey for a driver no longer in playoff contention. So why am I playing him on DraftKings?
Well, he actually seems to do either really well or really bad. For example, at Texas, where several frontrunners cut their tires, he went on to win, leading 70 laps in the process. Reddick also led 38 laps at Kansas in September, only to end up crashing out early.
And in the Coca-Cola 600, Reddick avoided all the mayhem at another 1.5-mile oval to run sixth. It's clear that, even as a lame duck at Richard Childress Racing, the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet has retained his strength on this track type throughout the season.
In Reddick’s first visit to Las Vegas this year, he brought home a seventh-place finish, building on a sixth from last fall. He also was triumphant in the NASCAR Xfinity Series here, taking home a win in the fall 2019 event.
Reddick may not hit his value on DraftKings, but he’s definitely one I’ll consider rolling the dice on.
Bubba Wallace ($8,700)
Career at Las Vegas: 9 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Las Vegas: 23.4
Shortly after Wallace moved from the No. 23 to the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota entry, he earned his second Cup victory at Kansas. Not too often has someone earned a win in the same car his teammate won in earlier that year at the same track.
In addition, Wallace gained 14 positions in the spring at Kansas, earning a 10th-place finish. And at Michigan International Speedway in August, he led 22 laps en route to second place. On DraftKings, he has five scores of at least 36 fantasy points in the last seven races, including 72.2 for that Kansas win.
Meanwhile, at Las Vegas, Wallace has a couple of good results, including a sixth in spring 2020 and a 16th in last fall’s race, up five spots from where he started. The Alabama native should be a popular DraftKings selection.
If you're not sold on Bubba, I also liked Joey Logano, who’s just $200 more to add to your roster. Logano’s history at Las Vegas is good, though he’s struggled a bit in the last few races there (one top 10 in his last four starts).
Daniel Suarez ($7,900)
Career at Las Vegas: 10 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Las Vegas: 22.8
Suarez may not have as good opening odds to win Vegas (33-1, per NASCAR), but he should still earn a top 15 in Sin City. After all, that’s where he wound up in last year’s playoff race after starting 26th. He also drove from 19th to eighth in the fall 2018 race while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Unfortunately, he crashed out at LVMS earlier this year, muddying the waters on how he'll perform.
The No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Team driver has a couple of good finishes at other 1.5-milers this year. Suarez was 10th in the fall Kansas race and 12th at Texas. However, he only scored 29.7 DraftKings points in the latter event since he started 10th.
And don’t forget his effort on the Charlotte oval: Suarez led 36 laps and recorded 51 fastest laps, though he ended up 25th after a late wreck in the Coca-Cola 600.
Dark Horse Performers
Michael McDowell ($6,200)
Career at Las Vegas: 17 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 30.9
OK, so I know McDowell hasn’t had as much luck at Las Vegas thus far. But he did earn a 17th-place finish there last spring, his career best.
I mainly wanted McDowell because of some of his results on 1.5-mile ovals this season. In May's Coca-Cola 600, McDowell came home eighth. Also, he advanced seven spots to 16th at Kansas last month, while at Texas, he finished 11th after leading 12 laps. The latter result wasn’t as high a score on DraftKings, since he started the race in fifth. But still, McDowell's results in the playoffs (as well as much of the latter half of the year) show that the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford driver still has some fight in him.
If you would rather go a safer route, AJ Allmendinger is a good alternative despite one career top 10 in 10 Vegas career Cup starts.
Justin Haley ($5,800)
Career at Las Vegas: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 26.0
Earlier, I mentioned Hamlin was one of three drivers to earn a top 20 in each race of the playoffs. Guess who was another? That’s right, Haley. He has scored 32 or more fantasy points in all but one of those six races.
At Kansas, Haley gained eight spots to finish in 19th, while at Texas, he brought home a third-place result, scoring over 70 fantasy points in the latter event. Also, at Las Vegas earlier this year, he advanced 11 positions to 17th place.
Haley is super inexpensive for his performances lately, so I have no problems placing him in most of my lineups.