NASCAR Cup Series racecars are back on track this weekend in sunny California at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and so is daily fantasy. Read on for my DraftKings picks for the Busch Light Clash, running Sunday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET.
For the second year in a row, Cup drivers are tackling the quarter-mile short track built in the middle of the University of Southern California’s historic football stadium. Twenty-seven drivers will race in the main event, four more than last year.
But before they do, they’ll compete in four heat races and two last chance qualifiers to try to make the feature race. Justin Haley won the pole for the first heat race, which kicks off at 5 p.m. ET. Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and William Byron will also start first in heats two, three and four, respectively. Check out the qualifying results that helped set the lineups here.
Last year, all drivers who began on the pole won their heat race. However, the second LCQ saw a big jumble in the running order, as well as the winner (Ty Dillon) getting eliminated after jumping the last restart.
Before I share my DraftKings picks, let’s review the scoring rules.
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth place scores 34, while 11th gets 32, and decreasing by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point, depending on where they finish. For example, if Bell started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn .45 for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.
Now, here are my picks!
Note: Stats below include Cup only at Martinsville Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($8,600-$10,200)
Joey Logano ($10,200)
Career at short tracks: 81 starts, 5 wins, 27 top fives, 42 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 12.4
I mean, I have to start with the 2022 Cup champ and defending race winner, right? Joey Logano led 187 laps en route to his second title at Phoenix Raceway last November. He also earned a sixth at Martinsville and Richmond, leading 222 circuits in the latter event.
But Logano started out this weekend with some issues. His Team Penske crew repaired a clutch problem, sending him back out in practice, only for him to spin around on the racetrack. He’ll start fifth in the first heat, and if he can make the race, look for him to eventually bump his way to the front.
Christopher Bell ($9,200)
Career at short tracks: 15 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 8 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 12.5
Bell starts first in the third heat race and appears to be continuing his strong runs he had last year. He led 143 laps at Bristol and 150 at Martinsville last fall, winning the latter event. He also won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, another flat racetrack.
Though he only finished eighth in the 2022 Busch Light Clash, Bell gained three spots from where he started.
In practice, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing driver posted the 10th-quickest average over a 10-lap run. Bell should be one to watch after the heat races are over.
Kyle Busch ($9,100)
Career at short tracks: 102 starts, 16 wins, 49 top fives, 67 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 10.9
New team, same speed for Busch this weekend. Like Bell, Busch also had a top 10 average across 10 consecutive laps in practice. Also like his former teammate, Busch will start first in his heat (No. 2).
Last season, Busch ran fairly well at many short tracks, earning a lucky seventh-place finish four times (including both Phoenix races), as well as a couple of ninths.
One might think that Busch is taking a step down from Joe Gibbs Racing, but let’s not forget how well Tyler Reddick did last year in this No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Reddick led almost all of the first 53 laps, but a drive train issue forced him to retire early.
Can Busch perform well once again? I think so.
Middle Tier ($6,700-$8,400)
William Byron ($8,400)
Career at short tracks: 21 starts, 1 win, 7 top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 14.9
Starting to see a pattern here? Yep, another driver starting first in his heat, this time Byron. That’s my main reason for placing him here, since all four heat polesitters won their heat last season.
But another reason I’m eyeing the Hendrick Motorsports driver is because he won at Martinsville last spring. It was at night, like Sunday’s race at the Coliseum will be, and Byron led 212 laps at the Paperclip. He also closed out the final three 1-mile or less racetracks with three top 10s, including a third at Bristol.
Chase Briscoe ($7,100)
Career at short tracks: 10 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 16.6
Chase Briscoe had the second-best average in 10 straight laps in a run in practice. The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing pilot also posted the third-fastest single lap that session; he’ll start fourth in heat race three.
Last spring, Briscoe snagged his first Cup victory at Phoenix, leading 101 laps. He finished up the season with a fourth at the same track and a ninth at Martinsville, so he still has speed on short, flat tracks. He should produce a solid score on DraftKings.
Bubba Wallace ($6,700)
Career at short tracks: 27 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 21.3
In 2022, Bubba Wallace was fast mostly at 1.5-mile courses, but he did have a few good runs at some of the smaller ovals. Last fall at Martinsville, he advanced from 24th to eighth place, which is no small feat. Additionally, he placed 13th at Richmond and third at New Hampshire.
The 23XI Racing driver averaged 66.95 mph across a 10-lap period in practice, more than a tenth over everyone else. Wallace starts fourth in heat four and should be one to strongly consider, should he make it this time.
Low Tier ($4,500-$6,500)
AJ Allmendinger ($5,800)
Career at short tracks: 69 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 21.6
AJ Allmendinger struggled quite a bit in practice, even getting into Briscoe after the No. 14 made contact with him. However, he showed strength in qualifying, and will start second in the fourth heat race. He’s fairly aggressive, so if he thinks he might have a car to win, look for him to work his way through the field.
Last year, Allmendinger began 21st and gained 12 positions to end in ninth place. Though he had a hard time earning good results in the first half of the season, he did better the second half. He placed 16th at Loudon, 12th at Phoenix and seventh at Bristol. Kaulig Racing has a fairly good short track program, and should be able to bring Allmendinger a good car this weekend.
Justin Haley ($5,400)
Career at short tracks: 10 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 28.7
Justin Haley actually had the best time in qualifying, so he’ll start on the pole in heat one. This was after he was 10th in practice in a single lap and 16th in 10-lap average.
He also had a bad fast car in last year’s race, but contact from Kyle Larson sent him crashing into the inside wall and out of the race.
Though Haley didn’t do as well on the short tracks in the regular season, he did earn a couple of top 15s at Dover Motor Speedway and Bristol. I expect him to be another dark horse this weekend.
Ty Gibbs ($5,300)
Career at short tracks: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at short tracks: 30.0
Okay, so Ty Gibbs has to start at the back of a heat after his car caught fire and the team made unapproved adjustments. I still think his car, talent and driving style is enough to make the main event, whether in the heat or LCQ. I mean, he dumped his own teammate for the win last year at Martinsville.
Gibbs might be a bit more hesitant to use his bumper this time around, but every driver wants to win the race, so if he can get close enough to do so, he might.
Besides, DraftKings pricing the 2022 Xfinity Series champion this low is way too much to ignore, especially if he advances to the feature race.
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.
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