Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2023 Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas

The next stop of the NASCAR Cup Series’ West Coast swing is Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Read on for drivers you should take a gamble on in daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings for Sunday’s (March 5) Pennzoil 400, airing at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

Cup drivers go from a wide, 2-mile oval to a 1.5-mile tri-oval, one that they’ve competed on twice yearly since 2018.

Last season, Alex Bowman and Joey Logano visited victory lane in the spring and fall events, respectively. Bowman’s win was a result of a late pit strategy call for much of Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers, especially him and Kyle Larson. After a caution came out with a few laps left, Hendrick’s crews changed two tires while Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. got four tires. Bowman and Larson got out ahead of them on pit road and ultimately placed first and second.

Logano, meanwhile, got by Ross Chastain for the lead with about three laps to go, earning his spot in the championship race.

With the lead changing hands so late in each race last year, could the same happen this week? How do you prepare your DraftKings lineups for the late lead changes?

Well, it’s not as easy to predict if something like that happens and who it happens to, but you can still determine who’s more likely to win and finish in the top 10. Study past races at Las Vegas, as well as the 1.5-mile courses from last year (except for Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is now a superspeedway). Homestead-Miami Speedway is also a little bit different from Vegas, which is more elongated and worn out.

Also, be sure to check out the practice and qualifying results from Saturday (airing at 1:35 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 before switching to FS1 at 2 p.m.).

Before I get to my picks for Las Vegas, check out the DraftKings scores from Auto Club Speedway:

DraftKings SalaryDriverDraftKings Score
$10,800Kyle Larson8.9
$10,300Kyle Busch82.1
$9,900Ross Chastain78.65
$9,100Tyler Reddick8
$7,700Erik Jones39
$7,100Ricky Stenhouse Jr.21.9
$6,400AJ Allmendinger-25

My picks scored from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. It ranged from Kyle Larson having an electrical issue off the bat and AJ Allmendinger crashing out, to Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain earning the top two DraftKings totals. Sometimes things happen out of your control.

Here’s a look at the DraftKings 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 Christopher 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.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring

Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues.

Here is the link to the league:

2023 Frontstretch NASCAR DraftKings League

Now, here are my picks!

DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($9,100-$10,900)

Ross Chastain ($10,300)
Career at Las Vegas: 9 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 21.2

Chastain had quite the duel with Busch last week at Fontana, Calif. Though he ultimately came home third, he seemed to have continued the momentum from last year. Chastain had a fairly fast No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, notching 22 fastest laps and leading 91 laps at Auto Club.

Chastain also finished third last spring at Las Vegas; he then placed second in his return to the track in October. Additionally, he led laps in both races: 83 in the March event and 68 in the fall.

Plus, Chastain was seventh at the fall Kansas Speedway race and second at Homestead.

He’ll surely earn another top five this weekend.

Denny Hamlin ($9,900)
Career at Las Vegas: 22 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 12.9

Denny Hamlin’s fairly good in Sin City, especially recently; he has top fives in four of the last five Vegas events. He’s also been out front a lot, as he led 121 en route to a third-place finish in fall 2020. That same race the following year, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing pilot grabbed the checkered flag after leading 137 circuits.

If his performance on Sunday is anything like it was on several intermediate racetracks last season, the Virginia native should be one to watch. Hamlin won at Charlotte Motor Speedway and finished fourth and second at Kansas in the spring and fall, respectively. Then he was 10th at Texas Motor Speedway, fifth at Las Vegas after starting 31st and seventh at Homestead.

Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500)
Career at Las Vegas: 22 starts, 2 wins, 7 top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 10.1

If you don’t want to roll the dice on Hamlin, his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. has also been very strong at Vegas. In the last 11 races there, Truex has earned six top fives and 10 top 10s. Last year he finished eighth and seventh in each race, though he looked to be closing in on Busch for the win before the caution came out in the spring race.

Also, the driver of the No. 19 Toyota placed sixth in the first Kansas race and fifth in the fall. Truex was also sixth at Homestead.

Though he only logged one fastest lap last week at Auto Club, I expect Truex to still perform well in the Pennzoil 400.

(Also like Christopher Bell)

Middle Tier ($7,100-$8,800)

Tyler Reddick ($8,800)
Career at Las Vegas: 6 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 16.2

Tyler Reddick has not started off the season well with his new team, 23XI Racing. After the first two races, he has just four points and sits 38th in the standings. Last week he was caught up in a huge crash at the restart on lap 87. Could he bounce back on Sunday?

Maybe. After all, he has three straight top 10s at Vegas, placing sixth twice and seventh once. He led 32 laps last fall en route to a sixth.

Reddick also was sixth at Charlotte and first at Texas, leading 70 circuits in the latter race.

While his price is a little bit higher than I would have liked, I do think that Reddick can finish in the top 10 since 23XI had strong results on some 1.5-milers last season.

Bubba Wallace ($8,300)
Career at Las Vegas: 10 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Las Vegas: 24.7

Speaking of 23XI, Bubba Wallace took home the win at the playoff Kansas race, leading 58 laps on the day. He also was 10th at Kansas last spring after starting 24th.

And you know what happened at Vegas last fall; he looked to have another strong car once again, leading 29 laps. But after Wallace hit the wall while racing with Kyle Larson, Wallace retaliated and wrecked himself, Larson and Bell. It wasn’t a pleasant ending, but I’m sure Wallace has learned from his mistakes.

Low Tier ($4,600-$6,900)

Chris Buescher ($6,900)
Career at Las Vegas: 12 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Las Vegas: 17.5

Chris Buescher has some interesting statistics for Las Vegas. He’s finished between 14th and 18th in all but two races since 2018. One of those two events was his lone top 10, a ninth place in fall 2020. Last year he placed 18th and 15th in the spring and fall events, respectively.

He’s had a couple of other good results at the 1.5-mile courses, too. At the fall Kansas race, the No. 17 RFK Racing driver finished 15th after starting 10th. Then at Homestead, Buescher was 13th after starting eighth.

Those results aren’t exactly great for DraftKings, but it does show that he can earn top 15s.

Justin Haley ($5,900)
Career at Las Vegas: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Las Vegas: 23.0

Justin Haley is similar to Buescher: he finished in the teens in each Las Vegas event last year after starting 28th. That’s a really good advancement from where he qualified, which helped to boost his DraftKings score.

Also, at Texas, he drove the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevy to a third place after starting 31st. Plus at Kansas, Haley gained eight spots to finish 19th.

That’s really all you need from a driver at this salary. Hopefully Haley will do just that.

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 and involved with photos, social media and news editing. 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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