The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Saturday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas slate locks at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($10,700) — The last official race at Texas (fall 2021) was won by Kyle Larson. He led over half of the 500 miles. Larson also won the All-Star Race at Texas in 2021. The racing package is different from last season’s, but 70 more horsepower and a couple inches off the spoiler do not matter much at Texas.
2. Denny Hamlin ($10,800) — Wins are huge for the middle-tier drivers, but the top-tier drivers require hog points (fast lap and laps led points) due to their hefty price tags. Although Hamlin nearly won at Kansas and Darlington, he did not score a significant amount of hog points in either race.
3. Kyle Busch ($10,000) — Despite his recent struggles in the last three races (two engine failures and a speeding/spin combo at Kansas), Busch still ranks sixth in terms of Dietrich Data score (a comprehensive statistic that breaks down a driver’s race). In 2020, Busch looked like he was going to go winless for the first time in 16 years, but in the Texas fall race, his luck turned around. Could his luck turn around this Sunday?
4. Christopher Bell ($10,300) — From the Dover race in May to present, Bell has the best Dietrich Data score at the traditional ovals. Bell does not get enough credit because he isn’t winning every other week, but no one is. There’s been 19 winners this season.
5. Martin Truex Jr ($9,800) — Wins are overrated in DFS NASCAR. Truex can’t win and his equipment has been just as unreliable as his JGR teammate’s equipment. However, if his Toyota finishes, then Truex should accrue plenty of fantasy points.
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6. Chase Elliott ($10,500) — The premier streaky driver was the runner-up at Bristol. If momentum is once again on Elliott’s side, watch out. The 2022 Cup Series Championship could be his.
7. Ross Chastain ($9,200) — In the last three races (Darlington, Kansas and Bristol), Chastain has not run more than 20% of the laps inside the top 5 in any race. His car is lacking speed compared to the elite, but he has avoided disaster with top-10 finishes at Kansas and Bristol.
8. Ryan Blaney ($9,600) — Before winning the 2021 Texas race, Kyle Larson won the spring All-Star Race at Texas. Ryan Blaney won the 2022 All-Star Race at Texas.
9. William Byron ($9,100) — Texas has always been one of Byron’s best tracks. Having Chad Knauss — an expert at setting up a stock car for Texas, Charlotte and Dover — as a crew chief definitely helped. His current crew chief, Rudy Fugle, has several wins at Texas in the Truck Series.
10. Joey Logano ($8,900) — Kansas and Bristol were not good races for Logano, but he was trending in the right direction before the last two races. From Michigan to the fall Darlington race, Logano recorded a top-5 driver rating in five straight races with the best driver rating twice.
11. Kevin Harvick ($8,700) — His car caught on fire at Darlington and two aggressive drivers took him out at Kansas. At Bristol, Richmond and Michigan (the most recent traditional oval races), Harvick recorded a top-5 driver rating in each race and won at Richmond and Michigan.
12. Tyler Reddick ($9,400) — The Cup Series has not held an official race at Texas this season. The Xfinity Series raced at Texas in May. Tyler Reddick won that race driving the No. 48 Big Machine Chevy.
13. Alex Bowman ($8,400) — The last race at an intermediate track was at Kansas. Texas is not a comparable 1.5-mile track but there are similarities. Alex Bowman led the most laps in that Kansas race.
14. Michael McDowell ($6,400) — He hasn’t cooled off or disappeared. McDowell finished 11th at Bristol, 16th at Kansas, sixth at Darlington and sixth at Watkins Glen. Before that, he was earning top-10 finishes every other week. This price is too low.
15. Todd Gilliland ($5,000) — It’s hard to ignore a Front Row Motorsports car when it’s the fourth cheapest. Todd Gilliland isn’t the greatest rookie ever, but he’s finished 23rd or better in three of the last four races. Also, he has plenty of Truck Series experience at Texas. He nearly won at Texas twice in 2018 when driving a premier Kyle Busch Motorsports truck.
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