New Hampshire 301
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fantasy Live / Fox: Quick Picks
For those of you that play DFS NASCAR, this weekend’s challenge comes in the form of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The flat, 1.0-mile oval might be called “The Magic Mile” by many fans, but the track can be anything but magical for fantasy owners.
With 301 laps on tap, the pressure is on to hit on the one or two drivers who dominate the laps led and fastest lap run categories. There are a lot of points available in both categories, and history says you can pencil in one driver to lead more than 100 laps Sunday.
As important as the laps led and fastest laps run categories will be, you can't ignore place differential. Thanks in part to the difficult passing conditions at New Hampshire, teams employ a variety of pit strategies to try to grab track position, and fuel mileage routinely comes into play on this track.
As a result, it is common for at least a couple of drivers starting deeper in the field to end up in the top 10 thanks to savvy calls on pit road. If you are going to earn a serious payout Sunday, pairing the dominant car with a couple of the biggest movers is a must.
Before you finalize your DFS NASCAR lineups, take one last look at the drivers to build around and the drivers that could be X-factors in the New Hampshire 301. Get your lineups locked in and check out the race Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Kevin Harvick ($10,700)
Harvick has dominated the laps led category at New Hampshire recently, leading a series-best 379 laps in the last three races here and leading more than 50 laps all three times. After a top 10 qualifying run and a top-five showing in practice, he looks primed to pile up points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories on his way to being one of the top scorers at DraftKings.
Kyle Busch ($10,500)
The defending race winner appears ready for a return trip to victory lane. Busch followed up a qualifying run that put him on the front row with a top-five effort in practice. He has four finishes of either first or second in the last three races at New Hampshire, and he ranks third in laps led at the track for his career. At the very least, he should lead a chunk of laps early and contend for the win, and he could end up dominating the entire afternoon.
Denny Hamlin ($9,500)
Since his strong start to the season, Hamlin has been relatively mediocre in 2016. However, he has posted excellent numbers at New Hampshire throughout his career. He has two win and four second-place finishes at the track, and no driver has led more laps here over the last ten races. Hamlin starts fifth with a car that was great in practice, and he has shown in the past that he can dominate the laps led category. He is the type of driver that can catch fire seemingly out of nowhere, so Hamlin could be a great contrarian driver to build a lineup around in GPPs.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,300)
He has been good at New Hampshire in recent years, but Truex has never been great at the track. However, Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated at the track, and over the offseason, Truex’s Furniture Row Racing team formed a technical alliance with JGR. Don’t rule out a career-best performance from Truex. He starts third with a car that cracked the top 10 in practice Saturday, so he could be one heck of a secret weapon to build your lineup around Sunday.
Clint Bowyer ($7,000)
I view Bowyer as an intriguing, all-or-nothing option this weekend that could help in GPPs. He starts 32nd, and he didn’t show much muscle in practice. He is either going to stay mired in the back on his way to a forgettable point total, or he is going to pick his way inside the top 20 and end up being one of the steals of the race. It’s a gamble that could pay off in a big way.
Paul Menard ($6,700)
With a couple of other drivers in his price range and considering his ability level while starting a little deeper in the field, I think Menard could be a bit of a forgotten man among the cheaper options. However, he still has legit upside through place differential after qualifying 24th, and he has six top 20s in his last eight starts here, including two top 15s in his last three starts. Menard could be a sneaky sleeper play Sunday.
Aric Almirola ($6,500)
Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne are likely to lead the popular sleeper options, but Almirola could be a useful contrarian play. He starts 26th, so the upside through place differential is there. He has also had some success at New Hampshire, finishing in the top 15 in three of his last six races here and posting to top six finishes in that stretch.
Danica Patrick ($6,300)
Her record at New Hampshire isn’t pretty, but Patrick is cheap and has some potential in the place differential category since she is starting 29th. She also delivered top 20 finishes at the flat tracks of Phoenix and Martinsville. If you are looking for cap relief in GPP games, Patrick could be worth taking a chance.
Drivers to Fade
Chase Elliott ($8,900)
Elliott has been incredible during his rookie year, but he enters Sunday’s race in a bit of a slump. More importantly, he qualified seventh, so despite strong practice times, he could easily lose a few points in the place differential category. At this price, I’d rather own Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch or Kyle Larson.
Kasey Kahne ($7,900)
He has been an underrated driver at New Hampshire, but Kahne loses a lot of his appeal on the heels of his 11th-place qualifying effort. Yes, he has seven top 15s in his last ten starts at New Hampshire, but he only has four finishes better than 11th during that stretch and just one in his last six starts here. In other words, I don’t expect him to add much, if anything, to his score through place differential, and he could easily slip back a bit and end up being dead weight for your lineup.
My Favorite DraftKings Lineup
Kevin Harvick ($10,700)
Denny Hamlin ($9,500)
Matt Kenseth ($9,100)
Ryan Newman ($7,700)
Greg Biffle ($6,600)
Trevor Bayne ($6,400)
I started my lineup by pairing the driver I feel is the best bet to dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories, Harvick, with my top contrarian option to deliver in the same categories, Hamlin. Both drivers start near the front, and both impressed me in practice Saturday.
Kenseth is an expensive No. 3 driver, but he has been excellent at New Hampshire since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. The fact that he also has upside in the place differential category after qualifying 18th only adds to his value. I like his chances of flirting with 50 fantasy points on finishing position and place differential alone, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he led some laps.
I will round out my lineup with drivers that have plenty of potential to move forward and take advantage of place differential. Newman, Biffle and Bayne all start 25th or worse. Given their solid track records here, Newman and Biffle are the safer picks, but with Bayne starting 31st, he could end up being the biggest difference-maker of the bunch.
Kyle Busch ($10,500)
Brad Keselowski ($10,300)
Kyle Larson ($8,500)
Ryan Newman ($7,700)
Jamie McMurray ($7,300)
Brian Scott ($5,400)
Busch and Keselowski dominated this race a year ago, and both have been among the best drivers at New Hampshire in recent years regarding finishing position and laps led. Busch was a top five car throughout practice, and Keselowski wasn’t far behind. While I think Kevin Harvick is the safest bet as the top scorer, Busch and Keselowski are two excellent alternatives to build around.
The combination of Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson could also help push this lineup over the top. Both start inside the top 20 but outside the top 15, so there potential through place differential is good but not great. However, both showed top 10 potential in practice, so strong finishes combined with several spots gained could turn both into 40-plus-point performers.
I’ll carry Newman on this roster as well, simply because he offers such strong value for the price after qualifying 25th. It is rare he starts this deep in the field, so although he is known for quiet top 15s, place differential will turn a typical outing for Newman into a big point total.
Scott not only frees up plenty of cap space but based on practice times, he should crack the top 25 with a shot at challenging for a top 20 finish. Granted, his 2016 season has been forgettable to say the least, but it is a lot easier to take a chance on him since he is starting 33rd.