DraftKings NASCAR: Pennzoil 400
DraftKings NASCAR: Pennzoil 400

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Pennzoil 400

Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Course: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile oval
Laps: 267

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick dominated last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and his pace at that circuit bodes well for his chances at this week's 1.5-mile oval as well. Though the two tracks bear little resemblance to each other, the 1.5-mile configuration is the most common type of circuit on the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series calendar, making history a good guide for predicting success. Last week's race gave fantasy owners some insight as to what to expect through the opening rounds of the 2018 season, too. Stewart-Haas Racing, and Ford more generally, appear to have their package headed in the proper direction. Toyota isn't far behind that group, with Martin Truex Jr. just needing a bit of luck and consistency throughout a race distance to be perfectly in the mix. Trailing a bit seems to be Chevrolet, and Hendrick Motorsports in particular. While there is no doubt that their machines have shown competitive pace, the teams and drivers need to fully get on top of their new chassis and start maximizing its potential. That will take some time. In the meantime, fantasy owners should put Harvick, Penske Racing, and the Furniture Row and Joe Gibbs Toyota's high on their early radars.

Key Stats at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Number of previous races: 20
Winners from pole: 1
Winners from top-5 starters: 7
Winners from top-10 starters: 10
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
Fastest race: 154.633 mph

Last 10 Las Vegas Winners

2017 - Martin Truex Jr.
2016 - Brad Keselowski
2015 - Kevin Harvick
2014 - Brad Keselowski
2013 - Matt Kenseth
2012 - Tony Stewart
2011 - Carl Edwards
2010 - Jimmie Johnson
2009 - Kyle Busch
2008 - Carl Edwards

The Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway kicks off a string of three west-coast races for NASCAR. The 1.5-mile oval is an entirely different beast than what the teams tackled last week in Atlanta. The long sweeping turns of Las Vegas put a tremendous amount of strain on front-right tires. While the pavement isn't as abrasive as Atlanta's, the need to preserve tires is just as important this week as last. While passing can be done by shifting up and down the groove through the turns, track position will be even more magnified this week. The less abrasive surface may encourage teams to make two-tire stops in a bid to move up the running order on restarts. While four-tire stops will still be the preference, cautions toward the end of stages could bring out some pit road gambles. With those gambles comes the need to remain clean on pit road. Speeding is a consistent problem throughout the field, and the problems we saw with the standard air guns last week at Atlanta should not be as frequent this time around. This was the site of Truex's first victory in his championship run last season, and he should be an early favorite to repeat on Sunday alongside Harvick.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,500
Kevin Harvick - $10,300
Kyle Busch - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kyle Larson - $9,800
Brad Keselowski - $9,400
Ryan Blaney - $8,700
Clint Bowyer - $8,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Aric Almirola - $7,700
Daniel Suarez - $7,300
Ryan Newman - $7,100
Paul Menard - $6,900

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,700
Kasey Kahne - $6,200
Chris Buescher - $5,700

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,500
Kevin Harvick - $10,300
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Aric Almirola - $7,700
Daniel Suarez - $7,300
Chris BUescher - $5,700

Truex and Harvick lead the lower-risk lineup for Las Vegas. Truex dominated this race one year ago to earn the first victory on his way to winning the championship. Kevin Harvick's masterful performance last week in Atlanta indicates that he should also be among the top contenders this week, and he's starting on the front row. Harvick won this race in 2015, too. Kurt Busch is currently eighth in points after a strong top-10 race in Atlanta. The team leveraged pit strategy to outperform and has the opportunity to improve upon past Las Vegas results this weekend. Things have also been looking very good for Almirola. He's now looking for regular top-10 finishes versus top-20s. He has never scored a top-10 at Las Vegas, but sits 10th in points after 11th- and 13th-place finishes to open the season. Suarez is outside of the top 20 in points after a disastrous Daytona 500, but pieced together a top-15 finish in Atlanta. This is his second Cup visit to Las Vegas, and fantasy players should expect him to better his 20th-place finish from 2017. Buescher rounds off this lineup. He scored a top-five finish in Daytona but struggled last week in Atlanta. He's searching for his first top-20 at this track, and has the best opportunity to accomplish that compared to the other drivers in this price range.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,000
Brad Keselowski - $9,400
Ryan Blaney - $8,700
Clint Bowyer - $8,100
Paul Menard - $6,900
Kasey Kahne - $6,200

The higher risk lineup this week has a good mix of drivers and engines. Kyle Busch represents Toyota and is coming off of a disappointing seventh-place Atlanta finish after starting on pole. The team will be working to fix the things that caused them to fall back last week and get into Victory Lane in Las Vegas. Busch has one Vegas win from 2009 on his resume. Keselowski has been consistently fast so far this year, and his runner-up finish last week suggests many more top-fives in the near future. He has two Las Vegas wins and hasn't finished lower than seventh at the track in the last five years. Blaney continued his excellent start to life with Penske Racing by claiming pole for Sunday's race, and the only question is his ability to turn that into a win. Bowyer has fared better, and his third-place finish last week is a good indicator that he will be in store for at least a top-10 this week as well. The potential for a great season remains evident for Menard, too. He was a bit quiet last week but is entirely capable of fielding a top-15 this week in Las Vegas considering the speed he showed on Friday. Finally, we've been cool on Kahne after his move away from Hendrick Motorsports, but he showed some competitiveness last week. He has seven top-10 finishes from 14 starts at this track, and a top-20 wouldn't come as a surprise.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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