These are the drivers who could help you find fantasy success for NASCAR's longest race
Your daily fantasy NASCAR FanDuel roster is in for a bit of an unpredictable week. Charlotte Motor Speedway, home to the longest race in NASCAR, the Coca-Cola 600, can be fairly easy to figure out. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have both enjoyed 370-plus laps led days in the last few years. Sometimes, however, the results can be a bit more unpredictable. A number of wrecks took out plenty of favorites last year, and a rare fuel mileage race in 2017 ended with the No. 3 returning to victory lane for the first time in 18 years.
The 600 is a race for either favorites or first-time winners. Plenty of big names have entered victory lane in the 600 in the past 25 years, but there have been a number of drivers who have won en route to excellent careers. Those first-time winners in that time period include Hall of Fame-caliber drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth. A couple of more obscure drivers, Casey Mears and David Reutimann, also have won the 600 completely unexpectedly, so expect the unexpected this week.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers. Here are the rules for FanDuel’s new Daily Fantasy NASCAR game.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 400-lap race will only have a total of 40 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack competitors who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Note: the Charlotte ROVAL is technically considered a separate track by NASCAR, and obviously drives completely different from the oval. Therefore, the lone ROVAL race has been ignored in this article's statistics.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kevin Harvick ($14,500)
Career at Charlotte: 35 starts, 3 wins, 8 top fives, 16 top 10s
Average Finish at Charlotte: 15.5
Did you know that Kevin Harvick has not won a single race so far this season? Somehow? And not only that, but the No. 4 hasn't finished better than fourth this year on top of that.
Sunday might be the turning point. Harvick was the class of the field in the All-Star Race and couldn't get by Kyle Larson for the win only due to aero push. The 2014 Cup Series champion will also be looking at this as a revenge race; Harvick hasn't won at Charlotte in five years and finished 40th in last year's race thanks to an early wreck. Never doubt a vengeful Harvick or crew chief Rodney Childers.
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500)
Career at Charlotte: 26 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average Finish at Charlotte: 14.6
Looking at Truex's stats at Charlotte, one thing seems to jump out: crew chief Cole Pearn is a genius at bringing fast cars to this racetrack. In the seven races at Charlotte since Pearn and Truex joined forces, Truex has gotten all six of those career top-five finishes, and his lone finish outside of the top five was just a "meager" 13th.
The Toyota drivers showed speed in Thursday practice, but they bombed out in qualifying, with Kyle Busch in third being the lone Camry starting in the top 10. That tells me that a lot of the speed of these drivers lie in their race trims, so after 100 or so laps, we'll probably see them begin to perform. And with Busch's fairly spotty record at Charlotte, Truex seems like the more consistent choice between the two.
Alex Bowman ($10,000)
Career at Charlotte: 6 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average Finish at Charlotte: 28.2
Bowman is riding a giant wave of momentum entering this weekend. Usually, when a driver finishes second this many times in this short of a timespan, it's not going to be much longer until the dam bursts. And this week could be it for Bowman.
In addition to attempting to extend his second place streak to four straight points races, Bowman came this close to beating Brad Keselowski at Kansas, another 1.5-mile track on the schedule. Bowman has enjoyed some success in recent years at Charlotte, winning his very first NASCAR Xfinity Series race there in 2017 and following that up with a solid ninth last year in the Coca-Cola 600.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
William Byron ($7,300)
Career at Charlotte: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at Charlotte: 39.0
Don't run away from this driver based on that average finish. His lone start at Charlotte, last year's 600, ended with the then-rookie driver making the short drive home early due to an early wreck. Byron's No. 24 team has a lot of momentum entering Charlotte; maybe not as much as Bowman, but still a fairly large amount.
Earlier this season, Byron tied the best finish of his young career with a sixth-place effort at Texas Motor Speedway, in some ways the sister track to Charlotte. Last week, Byron was fairly impressive, advancing through the Open and finishing ninth after a strong run in the main All-Star Race. Byron then proceeded to follow that up by winning the pole for the 600, and with this being the longest race of the season, you kind of want a driver who has completed 99.7 percent of laps completed to get some of those sweet laps completed points.
BARGAIN TIER: $5,999 and below
Bubba Wallace ($4,500)
Career at Charlotte: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at Charlotte: 16.0
Bubba Wallace has had a bit of a rough start to the season, but there are a few reasons to look at adding him to your team this particular week. His season highlight came last week, advancing through the Open like Byron and finishing an extremely impressive fifth in the All-Star Race at the same track he'll be racing at on Sunday.
Wallace hasn't been the most reliable driver, but he had a good showing at Charlotte last year in his only start at the track. His 16th was eight positions higher than his average finish last year, which makes him a potential bargain at this price.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)