One word: Finally.
Daily fantasy NASCAR is finally here and will begin with one of the most illustrious races of the season. The Coca-Cola 600 also happens to be a strenuous event and the longest one in the sport.
The way DraftKings has set up the scoring system plays right into the hands of fantasy owners in a lengthier race. There’s a great chance for high pass differential points and fastest laps will be spread around to myriad drivers. If none of that makes any sense—it’s cool if it doesn’t—refer to the DraftKings strategy guide.
This isn’t your daddy’s fantasy NASCAR—if your dad played fantasy. For those interested in getting started during the first race, here’s a look at the optimal picks for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports ($13,200)
On an intermediate track like Charlotte, it’s really a toss up between Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. So at $1,000 less in the salary department, targeting JJ seems like the smarter option here.
According to DraftKings’ scoring, Johnson has tallied a staggering average of 75.2 fantasy points per game over his last five races. He’s also won in four of the last seven races on 1.5-mile tracks. Oh, and Six-Time is also the defending winner of the Coke 600. Whatever reason you choose to lock in Johnson, don’t leave him out of your first lineup.
Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports ($10,100)
Hendrick machines are fast. Kasey Kahne has a Hendrick engine. Through deductive reasoning, we can conclude that Kahne is fast. Unfortunately, he was limited in qualifying by a flat tire and will start 33rd on Sunday.
Fortunately, that plays right into the hands of daily fantasy owners thanks to place differential. The way this works is by simply taking the qualifying position and subtracting the driver’s final result in the race. Therefore, if Kahne finishes in the top 10, his owners will earn at least 23 points.
During his career, Kahne has 13 top 10s, nine top fives and four wins at CMS. While a driver like Martin Truex Jr. might be more consistent this season, Kahne has more potential for massive points on Sunday.
Jamie McMurray, Chip Ganassi Racing ($9,300)
Leading up to the 2015 season, Chip Ganassi deemed Jamie McMurray “a big-game hunter” for his heroics when the bright lights are on. The veteran driver has won a Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and a Sprint All-Star race. One event he hasn’t triumphed in is the Coca-Cola 600—yet.
He’s won two races during his career at Charlotte, but both came in the fall. McMurray finished fifth last season after taking the All-Star event the weekend prior. Coming off two straight top-five results last season at CMS, the CGR driver will pile on fantasy points out of the 22nd starting position.
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing ($9,100)
Ryan Newman as a fourth option on a fantasy team? Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought when putting this lineup together. The King of Consistency can be yours for less than drivers like Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart—who have a combined two top 10s in 2015.
In the last three points races, Newman has scored at least 40 fantasy points in every start. Considering he has seven top 10s and four top fives in 11 races this season, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he will compete for 10th or better.
Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports ($8,000)
Though he has yet to reach the top 10 at the checkered flag once this season, Aric Almirola has been steady all year. His ability to keep a clean car has led to an average of 20 fantasy points per race—which is better than everyone else on this list except for Johnson.
He might not secure a ton of points with his final result, but the RPM driver will pile on with pass and place differential after qualifying 21st. As a fifth option, there’s no reason why owners shouldn’t have Almirola in Sunday’s lineup.
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