One nice surprise at the beginning of the 2018 NASCAR season was the addition of the Xfinity Series into the contests offered by the DraftKings. And they continued their offerings this weekend as well, to the tune of a $50k Beast contest for Atlanta with $10k going to 1st place. In other words, the Xfinity NASCAR contests are here to stay, and now we have to learn how to analyze these races.
The talent gap is so large in these Xfinity races, as the Cup Series drivers are pretty much guaranteed a solid result. However, DraftKings isn’t going to let you take all of the Cup drivers, so they have them priced excessively high, as Harvick is $10,900, Logano is $10,800, and Ty Dillon is $9,500 for Atlanta.
Atlanta Xfinity DraftKings Strategy
In order to optimize your Xfinity Series lineup, obviously it’s going to be important to have the dominator in your lineup. We’re only set to run 163 laps here on Saturday afternoon, but that still equals a little over 40 FPTS for laps led and probably around 70 FPTS for fastest laps. And nine times out of ten, it is going to be a Cup Series who takes all of these points. From there, it’s going to be best to fill out your lineup with the Xfinity guys who has a decent shot at earning some place differential FPTS while also finishing inside the top 10.
Also, don’t forget to pay attention to the car numbers in the race, and see which Xfinity Series drivers are in some of the “better” equipment. For example, John Hunter Nemechek is racing the #42 Chevrolet here at Atlanta, which is the same car Kyle Larson finished 3rd with here last season. Kyle Benjamin is in the #18 Toyota, which is the car that the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers share–specifically Kyle Busch.
Finally, don’t forget that Atlanta Motor Speedway is an old, worn-out racetrack, and while starting position is quite important in any race, these Xfinity cars are completely different animals when it comes to actually racing as opposed to qualifying. Long run speed is going to be key here in Saturday’s Rinnai 250.
Xfinity Driver Targets for Atlanta
Kevin Harvick ($10,900) – The biggest question most DraftKings players will face today is whether to go with Kevin Harvick or Joey Logano ($10,800). Personally, I’m going to roll the dice with Harvick, and for a couple of reasons. First, after qualifying, he said he was “excited” for this race today. That could have just been “driver talk” but getting that kind of response out of Kevin Harvick isn’t very common: he knows he has a good car. Additionally, “Happy” loves Atlanta Motor Speedway. He led 64 laps in the Xfinity race here last season (finished 4th) and also won this series’ race here back in 2015 after leading 101 of the 164 laps. The final reason I’m going with Harvick over Logano is because he starts 5th compared to 2nd. You never know how those one or two points could swing the final standings.
Christopher Bell ($9,000) – The Rinnai 250 pole sitter has a rocket ship this weekend, as the #20 Toyota has been super fast ever since the team unloaded it off the truck. On Friday, Bell came out and bested Cup Series regular Joey Logano on the speed charts, and also ended up P1 on the ten-lap average chart as well. In the second practice, the #20 Toyota was 2nd-fastest in both overall speed and ten-lap average. As far as Christopher Bell’s history in the Xfinity Series, it’s limited to say the least; today’s race at Atlanta will be just his 10th career start in the series, although don’t forget that Bell did win last season at Kansas in the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car. Looking at Atlanta specifically, he went to victory lane here in the Truck Series race last season after leading 99 of the 130 laps. He should be a solid choice in DraftKings here in Saturday’s Rinnai 250, but Bell is going to have to get quite a bit of dominator points to level out the risk of taking the pole sitter. Hopefully that P1 qualifying position scares some people away because the #20 Toyota is a race contender this weekend.
Tyler Reddick ($8,600) – Last week’s race winner will be looking for another solid finish out of his #9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet on Saturday afternoon, and I think he has a pretty good shot at achieving that. Additionally, DraftKings gave Reddick a bit of a price bump this week, and now he’s in that range where a lot of players are probably going to take a flier at a lower price to try and move up and get some one of the bigger names. Make no mistake about it, though, Reddick starts 11th in this weekend’s Rinnai 250 and he has top 10 finishing potential. This #9 team was one of the few that worked extensively on long runs during the practice sessions this weekend, and that should pay dividends here today. Speed-wise, Reddick was 6th- and 7th-fastest during the two practices and wound up 9th-best (on pretty old tires) during that last practice. Tyler performed well in the end-of-season races at other 1.5-mile tracks last year, and should pull out a nice performance here at Atlanta, too.
Dylan Lupton ($6,400) – With Dylan Lupton today, we’re just hoping for some place differential points and maybe a top 20 finish. The driver of the #28 Ford has a wiggle during the first round of qualifying, and that was probably the main reason why he missed out on the second round and will start today’s Rinnai 250 from the 28th spot. With that being said, Lupton has a chance to make up some positions during the race, as he was 22nd-fastest in the opening practice session this weekend and wound up 23rd-fastest in the final practice. Dylan also made a 10+ lap run during that final session, so that’s a good sign. This #28 Ford also gets its engine from Roush-Yates, which has to be worth a small boost.
Fade That Pick!
Kyle Benjamin ($7,100) – Let me start by saying that it’s extremely difficult to pass up this kind of talent for $7,100. Not to mention, Kyle is driving the #18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, so you know it has a bunch of speed in it. But from a DraftKings perspective, Kyle Benjamin scares the crap out of me, as he has the potential to be a major lineup killer. He ran five races for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series last season and qualified on the front row for each, although his finishes were more disappointing than anything else, as Kyle ended up with one top 5 (at Iowa) and an average result of 18.6. He did lead a bunch of laps (52) at Kentucky–which is promising–but it’s hard to imagine him doing that here at Atlanta this afternoon. It’s certainly possible that Kyle Benjamin ends up with a solid finish in today’s Rinnai 250, but there’s an ever better chance that he doesn’t. Finally, the #18 Toyota’s 3rd-place ranking on the ten-lap average chart in final practice this weekend should bump Benjamin’s ownership percentage up a notch, so I’ll take that fade opportunity and roll with it.
Disclaimer: I am by no means an Xfinity Series expert, and I don’t claim to be. And honestly, I wouldn’t be paying much attention to today’s race if DraftKings wasn’t offering contests. Take any thoughts here with a big grain of salt.