Red, white and blue colors adorn many NASCAR Cup Series cars this Memorial Day weekend. Which ones will be in your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups for the Coca-Cola 600 (airing Sunday, May 29 at 6 p.m. ET on FOX)? Let’s find out.
Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval marks the longest race of the year and will be a true test of how the Next Gen equipment holds up. Will there be blown (or lost) tires, engines let go or big wrecks?
Though Cup drivers have ventured to this track length twice this season (not counting the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway), it’s the first and only time they’ll run 600 miles. You can look at Kansas Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway to help and see if there’s any stronger drivers, but keep in mind there’s 200 more miles for things to happen to both engines and equipment with this new car.
Since it is a longer race, you’ll definitely need dominators in your lineup. Last year, Kyle Larson led 327 of the 400 laps en route to victory, which certainly scored well on DraftKings. You’ll almost certainly need the driver who leads the most laps in your lineup this weekend to cash in.
That said, you’ll also want some value plays that can earn 30-40 fantasy points to help you fit the higher-salaried drivers in your roster. Charlotte is a track where we’ve seen some upsets in recent years; those middle-tier ones will make the difference, especially in a race where there could be attrition due to the longer distance.
Before I move on to this week’s picks for Charlotte, here’s what happened in the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway:
Yeah … it didn’t go well last week. Larson crashed out first, then Ross Chastain hit Kyle Busch and flew in the air. It’s not that these options were bad (as all three drivers were over 40% owned in the $4,000 Quarter Jukebox); it’s just a reminder that racing can sometimes be unpredictable. Expect the unexpected, especially if you decide to make more than one lineup (and also be sure to make your lineups after practice and qualifying, or in this case, after the Open event).
As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each position lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the polesitter.
Here are the DraftKings rules for the road this season.
Now, on to my DraftKings picks.
Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this info to make your own.
DraftKings Picks for 2022 All-Star Race at Texas
Chase Elliott ($10,700)
Career at Charlotte: 10 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average finish at Charlotte: 11.9
Chase Elliott has led 22 or more laps and finished fourth or better in each of the past four races at Charlotte. His lone victory was actually a midweek race in 2020, coming after he started 19th.
The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports driver currently leads the standings with one victory, three top fives and nine top 10s. The Georgia native led 73 laps en route to his lone win at Dover Motor Speedway. Plus, at Darlington Raceway, Elliott soared from 34th to fifth, scoring 73 fantasy points on DraftKings earlier this month.
Hendrick as a whole was strong in last year’s race and would love to place another one of its cars in victory lane on Sunday. Expect Elliott to contend with an average finish of 1.5 in the last three Charlotte events.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200)
Career at Charlotte: 30 starts, 3 wins, 7 top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Charlotte: 14.1
It hasn’t been the best start to the season for Martin Truex Jr., earning just two top fives and six top 10s in 13 events thus far. It’s clear the 2017 Cup Series champion is due for a win; what better place to get his first one of the year than at one of the crown jewel events?
After all, Truex has won at Charlotte three times, tied with Kevin Harvick for most wins among active drivers. He captured the 600 from the pole in 2016 after leading all but eight circuits. Then in 2019, he drove his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory, leading 116 laps in the process. There’s fewer tracks Truex has been more consistent at than this 1.5-mile oval, racking up nine top-10 finishes in the last 11 races alone.
Just beware of Truex’s rough start to 2022. If he doesn’t seem as fast this week, I’d be wary of choosing him in my lineup, as you’ll need drivers who can record fastest laps to score big on DraftKings.
Christopher Bell ($8,400)
Career at Charlotte: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Charlotte: 18.0
Christopher Bell has only earned one top 10 at Charlotte, a ninth in 2020 after he started the race in 15th.
So why am I considering the Oklahoman for one of the toughest races of the year? Well, he’s shown some speed at the 1.5-mile courses, earning a 10th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a fifth at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago. In the latter event, Bell started on the pole, led 37 laps and recorded 22 fastest laps, leading to 54 fantasy points on DraftKings.
At some smaller racetracks, Bell has been strong, too. He drove the No. 20 to a sixth at Richmond Raceway and a fourth at Dover earlier this month. Bell’s had strong runs and should post some fastest laps again this week, which will help boost your DraftKings score.
Austin Dillon ($8,200)
Career at Charlotte: 13 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 4 top 10s
Average finish at Charlotte: 16.1
In the last three Charlotte oval races, Austin Dillon placed 14th, eighth and sixth. The eighth was a shorter midweek event while the other two were 600-milers, showing just how well he’s performed there recently. And did I mention Dillon won his first ever Cup race in 2017 after saving just enough fuel to sneak ahead?
This year, the No. 3 of Richard Childress Racing has three top fives and six top 10s overall. Dillon was ninth at Darlington, third at Martinsville Speedway, 10th at Richmond and second at Auto Club Speedway. One thing that’s good about Dillon is he usually doesn’t start very well, so his top 10s result in good fantasy points on DraftKings. For example, his ninth at Darlington was five spots further up from where he started, resulting in a solid 40.9 DraftKings points.
But even if Dillon starts near the front, he’s proven through recent history he’s a solid track contender at Charlotte. Don’t be afraid to use him.
Dark Horse Performers
Chris Buescher ($6,700)
Career at Charlotte: 9 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Charlotte: 18.4
Chris Buescher has done very well in the Coca-Cola 600 the last few years. In 2021, he jumped 19 positions to charge from 27th to eighth place. Then, in 2020, he finished 10th after starting 19th. Lastly, in 2019, Buescher went from 22nd to sixth, gaining 16 spots back when he drove for JTG Daugherty Racing.
Buescher’s run with RFK Racing this season hasn’t been terrible. Last week, he made it into the All-Star Race and finished eighth after starting 22nd. Also, he placed 16th at Darlington and eighth at Dover, earning the pole at the Monster Mile earlier this month.
Buescher’s earned several more results inside the top 20, including an 18th at Las Vegas and a 10th at Phoenix Raceway. He’s like the little engine that could, gaining as many positions as he can on the racetrack. Hopefully, Buescher will continue that steady improvement under new co-owner Brad Keselowski this Sunday.
Michael McDowell ($5,800)
Career at Charlotte: 22 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Charlotte: 30.2
Michael McDowell hasn’t been as good at Charlotte as his peers, but he’s had some stronger runs in the last eight races there. He was 14th in the fall of 2016, 19th in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 and 18th in both 2018 and 2020. Last year, he only moved up four spots to finish 20th, but that’s still more than respectable for this salary range.
The No. 34 Front Row Motorsports pilot initially had some trouble getting used to the Next Gen car, but it seems like he’s found his groove lately. McDowell was seventh at Darlington, his first top 10 of the year on a non-superspeedway or dirt track. At Dover, he advanced his position from 29th to 17th. But all you need from him this Sunday is for him to move up a few spots, especially since he’s so cheap as a back-end filler to your lineup.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.