Another thrilling week of racing is in the books. Last week’s road race gave us all the excitement and frustration we could handle. Sadly, some late race shenanigans took the favorite out of contention. Crashes at Daytona once again crushed a few of last week’s picks as well. All in all it wasn’t that bad, but it could have been much better. Thankfully, we have another week to get after it.
The good news is, we are done with Daytona for the time being. Drivers will return to the relative normalcy of an oval race track in Homestead, Miami. This track usually signals the end of a NASCAR season. But in this modern world where up is down and left is right, this race now lands at the beginning of the year. If you are new to NASCAR and the last two weeks were your introduction, you are in for a much more mellow race. Denny Hamlin is the defending champion of this race so all eyes will be on him again this week.
Here are some suggestions as you build your DraftKings lineups for the race. They are broken down by price range and do not suggest a full lineup. These are merely drivers to consider when constructing your rosters. I always suggest you do some more research of your own on top of what I offer. Let’s make this a profitable season and above all, let’s have some fun.
Pay Up For:
#18 – Kyle Busch ($11,800); Starting Position 24th
To say it’s been a rough start to the season for Kyle Busch would be an understatement. He found himself involved in costly accidents on both Daytona courses to open his 2021 campaign. Two weeks ago in the 500, he was caught up in the last lap crash that decided the race. Last week on the road course, he found himself three wide on the banking and wound up playing bumper cars with those around him. Ultimately, he crashed into the wall and out of a decent finish. In both cases, he was factored into one of the top spots at the end of the day. Bad luck managed to keep him out.
Most everyone is probably glad to put Daytona in their rearview and take the four and half hour trip south down the I-95 to Homestead. Kyle Busch might actually be happier than most. He’ll get to try and get back to good on a track he’s run historically well. Since 2012, he has only had one race where he finished outside the top seven. That was back in 2014 when he placed 39th. Since then, he’s won twice, finished sixth twice, while sprinkling in a second and a fourth place finish along the way.
What’s most appealing about dropping the big dollars on Busch this week is his potential floor. The algorithm lottery this week dropped a gift on our laps giving him a 24th place spot on the starting grid. That means that even if he only gets to his familiar spot in sixth place, he will cross the finish line with no less than 43 points. Of course, that does not factor in fastest laps or if he leads laps along the way. What’s more, if he actually wins the race, you could be in for a 60+ point afternoon. Lots of upside to be had despite the price tag.
#11 – Denny Hamlin ($9,600); Starting Position 1st
It seems every week that Denny Hamlin’s name and the word favorite are being lumped together. He was in the mix for a three-peat of the Daytona 500. He and Chase Elliot were heavyweights heading into the road course last week. Of course, this week is no different. He and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Toyota will look to capture a second checkered flag in as many years at Homestead. Once again he will start from a familiar position on the pole.
Last June he started as the lead car and finished that way. In between the green and the checkered, he led 137 of the race’s 267 total laps. That’s just going a long way to point out how much he dominated that race. It also goes to prove that he’s a hard person to pass on that track when he’s out in front. In fact, it’s actually difficult overall to pass the lead car on this track. In 2020, there were only 17 lead changes. The year before that, there were only 14 total lead changes.
A quick calculation assuming he leads even 100 total laps and wins will give you at least 90 points out of Hamlin. Throw in a few fast laps and you could be looking at an almost 10x return on his salary. With his low price and his high ceiling Hamlin should be a lock in your cash game lineups.
If You Must Fade:
#8 – Tyler Reddick ($8,500); Starting Position 35th
Here is your risk/reward mid-price driver of the week. His starting position alone is reason enough to take a shot using him in a few of your tournament lineups. He could serve as a sneaky cash game play as well, but don’t go too heavy on him there. Should he work his way through the field, those differential points will send your lineups up the field as well.
Last season, Reddick started 24th and ended the day with an impressive fourth place finish. It was his best finish of the season to that point. That is where the risk/reward factor kicks in here. Overall, Reddick was not all that bad in the 2020 season. He had only seven finishes outside the Top-25 all year. That isn’t bad considering the season is 36 races long. Of course, you are hoping for more than 25th place from him this week. But, if that is all you end up getting, he won’t sink you with his 27-point floor.
#10 – Aric Almirola ($7,900); Starting Position 16th
To be honest, pricing versus upside in the middle of the pack on this slate leaves few desirable options. Aric Almirola is in play here given his fifth-place finish at Homestead in 2020, as well as his potential to turn around his bad luck. He’s looked good early into the season. He started out winning his heat of the Duels. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to capitalize on that as he was taken out in the lap 13 crash in the 500. He made it as high as seventh place last week on the road course before a poor restart after a weather caution on lap 57 cost him precious track position. Despite dropping into the mid-30s towards the end of the race, Almirola battled back to finish in 17th place.
The starting algorithm has him rolling off from the 16th position Sunday which doesn’t leave much room for differential points. But, in Almirola, you are betting on him to not lose you points as is the case with several of the drivers in his price range. Should he crack the top five as he did last time, you can get at least 40 points from him. He’s a safe candidate to hold up his value and you’ll need that reliability on this slate.
For The Bargain Shopper:
#6 – Ryan Newman ($6,400); Starting Position 23rd
Daytona has not been good to Ryan Newman these last couple of years. He’s wrecked out of the 500 this year in the Lap 13 crash that took out so many frontrunners. Last week, he managed a respectable Top-20 finish. That was 11 spots more than his 33rd starting position.
This week in Miami, he’ll be looking for a Top-10 finish much like the one he enjoyed in the 2019 running at Homestead. He hasn’t run well traditionally at this track, so what you are hoping for here is his veteran driving to land him a decent finish. There are very few reliable options here at the bottom of the list. Taking a chance on a known entity will be the safer play here.