It feels like throwback weekend is continuing into this week, with the NASCAR Cup Series returning to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time in 27 years.
Let’s prepare your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups for the All-Star Race, airing Sunday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
No one really knows what to expect until the race itself, as this surface really hasn’t been run on in several years. However, there will be a couple of heat races on Saturday starting at 7:20 p.m. ET, also on FS1. These will set the lineups for the main event.
Additionally, there will be the All-Star Open on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET where the top two finishers will make the All-Star Race. The final spot in the main event lineup is reserved for whoever wins the fan vote.
North Wilkesboro itself is a .625-mile short track and it’s already had some patchwork done this week. It will be interesting to see how fast the tires will wear down in this race.
Obviously, these two drivers will likely be ones to watch for the top prize this week. But also look at other short-track races from the past two seasons to see which ones do well on this configuration. Additionally, Darlington Raceway’s results and stats (such as lap leaders and fastest laps) may help as well, since that track’s surface is also rough on tires.
Before I share some drivers I’m considering for the All-Star Race, let’s review the results from Darlington Raceway:
|DraftKings Salary||Driver||DraftKings Score|
|$7,400||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||20|
This was again another example of why I prefer to wait until practice and qualifying to finalize my roster for DraftKings. Eventual winner Byron had the fastest 10-lap average speed, while Denny Hamlin was ranked 21st in the same category.
Also, had I known that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would start third in the race, I definitely wouldn’t have chosen him. He was running fairly well, though, until he spun with a flat tire.
Here’s a closer look at the DraftKings scoring rules …
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. 10th place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they began the race. For example, if Byron 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 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.
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 at Frontstretch.
Here is the link to the league:
Now, here are my picks for the All-Star Race!
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier
William Byron ($9,100)
As I mentioned above, Byron is one to keep an eye on this weekend after he had the fastest average speed in 10-lap runs. Unfortunately, he seemed to fall off a bit the longer he drove, as he was no longer in the top 10 in 15 or 20-lap averages, leading me to believe he might have a short-run car.
Nothing wrong with that; with the way North Wilkesboro is now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had multiple cautions during the race. The only problem there is that there’s only one more time in the second half of the race that cars could change tires, so one issue could bring havoc.
But Byron’s strength and resilience so far this season should carry him into this weekend. He won at Darlington last week as well as Phoenix Raceway earlier this year. Also, he led 193 laps at Dover Motor Speedway and 117 at Richmond Raceway; when he gets clean air, he’s seemingly unstoppable. We’ll see how he does in his heat race; hopefully it translates well to the main event.
Denny Hamlin ($8,800)
Hamlin also posted some fast lap times in practice, leading the five-lap average and holding on for third-fastest over a 20-lap run. He was also in the top 10 in 10-lap and 15-lap average speeds.
Although he didn’t run as well as I thought he would last week at Darlington, Hamlin has had some good results at other short tracks. He placed fifth at Dover and fourth at Martinsville Speedway. Also, last year his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was out front for 203 laps en route to a fifth place last fall at Martinsville.
Don’t count him out of having a good run at North Wilkesboro.
Tyler Reddick ($7,700)
See a pattern here? Yep, Tyler Reddick had some strong practice speeds as well, leading the 15-lap average and holding second in both 10 and 20 lap-runs. It’s a welcome sight for the No. 45 23XI Racing driver, who won at Circuit of the Americas earlier this year.
Reddick’s actually put together some good results on a couple of 1-mile ovals. At Dover he came home in seventh, while at Phoenix he was third. It’s not exactly flashy, but his practice times lead me to believe he’ll do well on Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($7,400)
Ryan Blaney has also run well at a few short tracks over the last couple of years. At the Monster Mile, he finished third; at Martinsville, he drove from 31st to seventh. Last fall, he was third at the paperclip. Plus, at Phoenix he has back-to-back runner ups in the last two races there.
The No. 12 Team Penske pilot also appears to have a good long-run car, topping the charts in 20-lap runs and third in 15 laps.
Last week Blaney finished ninth at Darlington; can he carry that momentum over to win his second-straight All-Star Race?
(Also like Chris Buescher)
Might Compete (Not Locked In)
Ty Gibbs ($8,000)
Ty Gibbs is not locked into the main event, but I like his chances of moving on. For starters, he’ll line up first in the Open after his pit crew had the fastest pit stop. Clean air could be key for making the main race.
In practice, Gibbs had some pretty quick lap times, posting the sixth-best in a 10-lap run and top 10 in 15 and 20-lap averages.
And although he hasn’t been great at most short tracks recently, he did gain five spots to finish in ninth place at Richmond. At Dover, Gibbs advanced from 24th to 13th. If he makes the show, he’ll start in the back, which could be beneficial to your DraftKings lineup if he gains positions.
Aric Almirola ($7,500)
I chose Aric Almirola mostly due to his speed in practice; he had top five average speeds in both 10 and 15-lap runs. He was also seventh best in 20-consecutive laps.
But in one way, this shouldn’t be a surprise; he finished in sixth place at Martinsville earlier this year. Last fall, Almirola went from 32 to eighth at Richmond, while at the spring Martinsville race he was eighth. He might have a rough time on making the All-Star Race, but if he does, watch for him to move through the field.
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.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.