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DraftKings NASCAR: Ford EcoBoost 400

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.

Ford EcoBoost 400

Location: Homestead, Fla.
Course: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile oval
Laps: 267

Race Preview

It all comes down to one final race this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski will square off to claim the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship. All four of this season’s championship contenders have won a race this year, and it’s likely that they will have to win one more on Sunday to hoist the cup. Of the bunch, Harvick has the best record at the track. He has come on strong in the final round of playoff eliminations, and could hold the key to this week’s outcome as well. Truex arguably has had the best season of all the championship contenders. He already has been crowned the regular-season champion, and now has a chance to finish the job in Miami. Fantasy owners betting on raw speed and determination shouldn’t look further than Busch. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has five wins this season and is known for his tenacity in situations like this. Then finally, Keselowski altered his strategy early in the playoffs, but also has found a resurgence of form. His team has been in this situation many times, and their shrewdness could upend the championship battle and give Keselowski his second title.

Key Stats at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Number of previous races: 18
Winners from pole: 2
Winners from top-5 starters: 10
Winners from top-10 starters: 12
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 2
Fastest race: 142.245 mph

Last 10 Homestead Winners

2016 - Jimmie Johnson
2015 - Kyle Busch
2014 - Kevin Harvick
2013 - Denny Hamlin
2012 - Jeff Gordon
2011 - Tony Stewart
2010 - Carl Edwards
2009 - Denny Hamlin
2008 - Carl Edwards
2007 - Matt Kenseth

Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of the many 1.5-mile ovals on the calendar, but it is similar only in name and distance. The track features progressive banking in the turns that has promoted much closer racing in recent years than when the venue first opened. Johnson came from 14th position to win the race and championship last season, while Busch and Harvick did the same from top-five spots on the grid in the two years prior. With the competition as close as it is in 2017, fantasy owners should be looking for the champion to ultimately win Sunday's race as well. Monitoring lap times, both single- and 10-lap runs, throughout practice will be the best indicator of which of the four contenders has the advantage heading into the race on Sunday. From the start onward, it will be up to the driver and team to leverage that pace and not buckle under the pressure. Championships have come undone due to mistakes on pit road and silly decisions on the track. Staying clean throughout the afternoon and making the chassis adjustments that keep up with the changing track conditions will set up the drivers’ final push for victory.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $11,100
Kyle Busch - $10,500
Brad Keselowski - $9,900
Kevin Harvick - $9,700

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kyle Larson - $9,500
Matt Kenseth - $9,100
Denny Hamlin - $8,900
Ryan Blaney - $8,700

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Erik Jones - $8,100
Jamie McMurray - $7,700
Ryan Newman - $7,600
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,500

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Daniel Suarez - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,700
Aric Almirola - $6,200
David Ragan - $5,900

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $9,700
Kyle Larson - $9,500
Matt Kenseth - $9,100
Denny Hamlin - $8,900
Danica Patrick - $6,500
A.J. Allmendinger - $6,300

The final lower-risk lineup option of the season does not feature either of the season-long co-favorites for the championship. It is headed by serious contender Harvick, though. Harvick is no stranger to the situation he faces on Sunday, and he came out on top in the same situation in 2014. He hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 at Homestead since 2007 and could very well end up being the 2017 Cup champion. Larson had a stellar 2017 season but didn’t advance as far as expected in the playoffs. He has two top-five Homestead finishes in his short four-race career at the circuit. Both of those drivers posted top-five laps in the weekend’s opening practice, too. Last week’s winner Kenseth is a former winner at this track and has only finished outside of the top 10 here once in the last seven races. He would like nothing more than to sign off with another top finish. His teammate Hamlin is no longer part of the championship picture but still has plenty to fight for. He has two past Homestead victories and started from pole as recently as 2015. The second driver in this lineup that fantasy owners won’t see in 2018 is Patrick. She has largely underperformed through her time with Stewart-Haas Racing but has been great at climbing up the finishing order at this track. Her poor qualifying at the circuit works to the advantage of fantasy owners this week. It hasn’t been a season to remember for Allmendinger, but he finished eighth at this track last season, and a top-15 run on Sunday would start to rebuild his confidence heading into the winter.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,500
Brad Keselowski - $9,900
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $7,800
Jamie McMurray - $7,700
Ryan Newman - $7,600
Aric Almirola - $6,200

The higher-risk lineup features two championship contenders in Busch and Keselowski. Both have championships under their belts. Keselowski may be considered the underdog in the fight, but he can’t be ignored with the Penske Racing team backing him up. Busch was fastest in opening practice. This is Earnhardt’s final race in the series as a full-time driver, and he has to go out with a top finish. He was 10th last week in Phoenix. McMurray has had a season to be proud of, and with his 17th top-10 finish of the season coming last week, he’s poised to total 18 on the year with this Sunday’s effort. He has two top-five finishes in the last three Homestead finales. Newman and Almirola round out the final higher-risk lineup option of the season. Newman has struggled the past few weeks but is entirely capable of a top-10 on Sunday. His average Homestead finish is 16.5 in 15 career tries. Sunday will be Almirola’s final outing with Richard Petty Motorsports. He moves to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018, and has two top-10 Homestead results on his resume.

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.