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NASCAR DFS: Quaker State 400 Lineup Tips

NASCAR DFS Expert Brian Polking reveals his final DraftKings advice before the Quaker State 400!

Quaker State 400

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It is shaping up to be an interesting night at Kentucky Speedway. The Sprint Cup Series teams already had their work cut out for them thanks to the track's repaved surface and the new aerodynamic package NASCAR is trying this weekend. Add in some rain that set the field by owner points and potential tire issues that arose during the XFINITY Series race, and Saturday night's Quaker State 400 could be full of surprises.

With all the unknowns in play this weekend, building a winning DFS NASCAR lineup isn't a walk in the park either. Past results at Kentucky aren't necessarily reliable on the new surface, and a cut tire could be waiting to take out one of your drivers and ruin your night.

All things considered, I'm relying heavily on practices times when building my lineups. Granted, practice speeds aren't a guarantee of what will happen during the race, but they are the best indicator we have of which drivers have a handle on this current version of Kentucky Speedway.

There are 267 laps on tap for Saturday's race, so you can't ignore the laps led and fastest laps run categories and expect to have a winning lineup. This is especially true since opportunities to score a lot of points in the place differential category are limited because the field was set by owner points, putting all the top drivers up front.

Races at Kentucky have typically been dominated by a single driver, and I don't think that will change the first year of a new surface. Don't be afraid to pay up for a couple of drivers that could dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories. One driver alone won't win your league, but if you hit on the driver with the car to beat, you will be in great position to cash in.

Don't forget to lock in your final lineups at DraftKings, and check out the Quaker State 400 Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Building Blocks

Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400)

His numbers at Kentucky are decent but certainly not spectacular, but Truex has been the man to beat at 1.5-mile tracks in 2016. His 739 laps led in five races are 596 more than any other driver, and he has led the most laps in three straight races at 1.5-mile ovals. Based on his excellent practice times, Truex looks poised for another dominating showing Saturday night.

Kyle Busch ($10,200)

His numbers at Kentucky are in a class by themselves, and Busch enters this weekend's race ranked first in average finish, top five finishes, laps led and wins at the track. He starts sixth with a car that was consistently in the top three on short and long runs in practice, making Busch one of the top candidates to dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories.

Difference Makers

Jimmie Johnson ($10,000)

He was arguably the most impressive driver in the opening practices, but Johnson got into the wall and had to go to a backup car. He wasn't topping the charts in his backup, but he wasn't bad either. He has also cracked the top 10 in all five races at Kentucky, leading the third-most laps. If Johnson and his team can dial in the backup car sooner rather than later, he could be a great contrarian driver to build a lineup around.

Denny Hamlin ($8,500)

His record at Kentucky is hit and miss, but he has two top-three finishes in five starts, and he showed top-five potential across the practices Friday. He starts 10th, so if he can crack the top 5, Hamlin is looking at 40-plus fantasy points. At his price, he doesn't need to dominate to be a useful pick.

Kyle Larson ($8,300)

Larson is always a bit of a risky play because he tends to be an all-or-nothing driver, but he has tremendous upside this weekend. Based on practice times, he is on the short list of potential winners this weekend. Throw in the fact that he is starting 20th, and he also has plenty of points to earn in the place differential category. The pieces are in place for Larson to deliver a huge point total.

Greg Biffle ($6,600)

It's tough to get inspired by Biffle's results this year, but his 23rd-place starting spot gives him some appeal. He cracked the top 15 in the third practice session, and he finished 14th and 16th in his last two starts at Kentucky. I'm not expecting his ownership to be overly high, so if Biffle can finish solidly inside the top 20, he will be a great alternative sleeper.

Aric Almirola ($6,500)

His lack of upside and generally mediocre results tends to keep his ownership low, but Almirola could be a useful contrarian play in GPPs this weekend. He starts back in 26th, so he has more upside through place differential than most drivers in his price range. He also has two top 15s in his last three starts at Kentucky.

Chris Buescher ($5,200)

If you are looking for a sneaky source of cap relief, Buescher is worth a roll of the dice. He starts 34th, but he has been a borderline top 15 during practice sessions. Even if he just cracks the top 25, he will be a bargain at this price. If he actually backs up his practice times, he will be the steal of the weekend.

Drivers to Fade

Brad Keselowski ($9,800)

Keselowski's numbers at Kentucky are incredible, but his success may not translate on the repaved, reconfigured track. He has been solid but not spectacular in practice, and since he starts second, he is going to need to score some points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories to justify his price tag. From what he has shown thus far, I'm not sure he can do that.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,200)

He has been hit and miss at Kentucky in his career, and Junior's practice times give no indication that he is anything more than a middle-of-the-pack option this weekend. Starting 13th, his upside through place differential is already limited, and bonus points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories seem unlikely. Junior's price tag is sizeable, but I don't think his point total will be.

My Favorite DraftKings Lineup

Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400)

Kyle Busch ($10,200)

Denny Hamlin ($8,500)

Kyle Larson ($8,300)

Ty Dillon ($6,400)

Chris Buescher ($5,200)

Busch has been the best driver at Kentucky over the years, and Truex has been the best driver at 1.5-mile tracks this season. Both have been strong throughout the practice sessions this weekend, and between the two of them, I expect to pile up plenty of points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories.

Hamlin and Larson were also stout during practice, and I feel both drivers have top-five upside. Starting 20th, Larson has a big ceiling, but I think both can provide at least 40 fantasy points with the potential for more.

Dillon is sure to be a popular option among the cheaper drivers, but by starting 30th, he has so much upside for the price that I will jump on the bandwagon. Meanwhile, I will try to separate myself from the pack with Buescher, who starts 34th but was a top 20 driver in practice with even better long-run numbers.

Checkers-or-Wreckers Lineup

Kevin Harvick ($10,600)

Matt Kenseth ($8,700)

Austin Dillon ($7,900)

Tony Stewart ($7,700)

A.J. Allmendinger ($7,100)

Paul Menard ($6,700)

Although he hasn't been great at Kentucky in the past and doesn't seem to have his car 100 percent dialed in this weekend, Harvick did have one of the best cars in final practice. He also starts on the pole, and week in and week out, he is consistently one of the best. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up dominating the race.

Kenseth is another driver that didn't exactly dominate in practice, but he did show some top 10 speed late. He also owns a 4.6 average finish at Kentucky and has three straight top-five finishes here. Kenseth might not lead a bunch of laps, but starting 11th, he could easily provide 40-plus fantasy points simply by finishing in the top 10.

I'd prefer that Dillon by starting deeper in the field, but after cracking the top 10 in the final two practices, I still like his chances of flirting with 40 fantasy points. He has been solid on 1.5-mile tracks dating back to last season, and he has to finishes of sixth or better in five 1.5-mile events this year.

With all the big names starting up front because owner points were used to set the field, Stewart has more upside than most through place differential. He starts 22nd, so if he can just make his way into the top 15, he will be a safe, mid-priced addition. Meanwhile, his ceiling is even higher if he happens to have a really good run.

Allmendinger and Menard could make or break this lineup. I don't expect either to be heavily owned, especially Allmendinger. However, Allmendinger cracked the top 10 in the final two practices and is starting 19th. Menard starts 24th, and there aren't many drivers starting as deep in the field that have a realistic shot at challenging for a top 15.


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