This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.
South Point 400
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Course: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile tri-oval
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series playoffs commence this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the South Point 400. Kevin Harvick snatched the last regular-season trophy last week by winning his second Brickyard 400 and will carry that momentum into the 10-race run to decide the 2019 champion. Kyle Busch already locked up the regular-season driver's championship, and Joe Gibbs Racing amassed a whopping 13 wins up to this point. The organization's drivers are favorites to take this year's crown, but Harvick and Penske Racing's Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski aren't about to let them win it without a fight. Playoff hopes were dashed for Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson, who both flirted with the cutoff line in the weeks leading up to the deadline. Kyle Busch enters the knockout stages with a 45-point lead over 16th place and 15 over second seeded driver Denny Hamlin. The battle is a much closer affair from there back, though, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. should be favored to advance with their playoff points tallies as well. The three-race knockout round begins now, and four of the 16 playoff contenders will be eliminated by the time we leave the Charlotte road course.
Key Stats at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
• Number of previous races: 23
• Winners from pole: 1
• Winners from top-5 starters: 8
• Winners from top-10 starters: 12
• Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
• Fastest race: 154.849 mph
Last 10 Las Vegas Winners
2019 spring - Joey Logano
2018 fall - Brad Keselowski
2018 spring - Kevin Harvick
2017 - Martin Truex Jr.
2016 - Brad Keselowski
2015 - Kevin Harvick
2014 - Brad Keselowski
2013 - Matt Kenseth
2012 - Tony Stewart
2011 - Carl Edwards
Penske Racing won the last two visits to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Ford-powered drivers have won four of the last five. Statistically, qualifying is important at the circuit, but pole position isn't the best indicator of race success. Kyle Busch is the only pole sitter to win the race and that was back in 2009, but more than half of the race winners have started inside the top 10. Winning at Las Vegas requires clean stops on pit road, managing tires and the all-important track position. All three of those factors play into one another throughout the race distance, and the team that manages all three the best likely will come out on top. Logano and Harvick each led more than 80 laps last time, out but there were plenty of opportunities for other drivers to take the lead as well. This being the first race of the playoff elimination rounds will give a bit of extra incentive for those top 16 drivers in the standings to get their championship bid out of the gate quickly. Early momentum could carry straight through to Homestead.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Kyle Larson leads a consistent lower-risk option for fantasy players this week. He had three consecutive top-three finishes here before finishing 12th earlier this season. He starts the playoffs seeded in 11th position and has four top-10s from the last five races. Joey Logano will want to get his playoff started off on the right foot with a repeat Las Vegas win from this spring. He hasn't finished outside of the top 10 at Las Vegas since 2013. Chase Elliott was 10th in opening practice and finished ninth in the spring race. Likewise, Clint Bowyer started practice off quickly with the fastest lap on Friday. A top-10 on Sunday would be his fifth at the track. Consistency has been a big driver of Chris Buescher's success this season. He sits 20th in the standings and continues racking up top-15 finishes nearly every single week. David Ragan was 24th in Friday practice. He finished seventh here in 2008 and started sixth in this year's spring race.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch lead the top-heavy higher-risk lineup for Las Vegas. The younger brother sits atop the championship standings but has been shut out of Victory Lane since Pocono's June win. He blew an engine last week and wants nothing more than to reassert his dominance this week. He's the only driver to win from pole at this track and was third earlier this season. Kurt started 28th, led 23 laps and finished fifth in the fall race with a nice points haul for fantasy owners. He has three top-10s from the last five races, too. Erik Jones has just one top-10 from four Las Vegas starts but was quick enough to start last year's race from pole. He finished eighth in the spring race last season and 13th earlier this year. While Jimmie Johnson may have missed the playoffs for the first time, his season is by no means complete. He was third quickest in Friday's practice and won here four times. He hasn't had a top-10 at the track since 2016, though. Daniel Hemric and Ross Chastain round off the selections. Hemric has been very quick throughout the season but needs smooth races to the finish. He qualified fifth here in the spring and should leverage what he learned then this weekend to get to the end with a top result— especially after posting the 11th fastest practice time on Friday. Chastain started and finished second at Las Vegas in the Gander Outdoors Truck series race and will be aiming for a top-20 on Sunday.