FOHQT 500: Top-5 NASCAR DFS Targets on DraftKings
The incredible NASCAR action of 2022 and NASCAR DFS is back this Sunday for the Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, this isn’t the Atlanta of old. The track underwent a repave and reconfiguration for the first time since 1997. Construction began last July when the racing surface was torn up, the width of the track was altered and banking was added. Basically, the new track is so fast, it is being called a mile and a half superspeedway.
Atlanta’s exact length is 1.54 miles. That hasn’t changed. Technically, it’s an intermediate track. It is the new progressive banking that has added more speed to the racing action. The turns are now set at 28 degrees, instead of 24 degrees, and drop from 55 feet wide to 40 feet wide. The backstretch has also been narrowed to 42 feet, but the dogleg front stretch is widened to 61.5-feet. In practice, a few drivers were able to crack the 30-second mark in the draft. Prior times at AMS were generally in the 32-34 second range.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 19, 2022
All series have engine package for Daytona-Dega. That means instead of 670-680hp, trucks and Cup are around 510-520hp, Xfinity at 420hp b/c they have less drag with smaller spoiler. Cup teams have Daytona-Dega aero package; trucks/Xfinity have their intermediate aero package
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) March 19, 2022
With that in mind, this year’s new NextGen Cup Series cars will use the same superspeedway package as Daytona and Talledega for the Folds of Honor 500, which means 7-inch spoilers and engines restricted to 510 hp. We will see pack racing, but it will be harder to pass as well.
All things considered, what is our NASCAR DFS strategy for this Sunday? Well, at first I thought it might be hard to use the practice times due to the situational pack racing. However, while sitting down to write this, I also have the Truck Series race on and I can tell you the 10-lap and 15-lap averages are carrying over well.
Here is a look at the averages from Cup Series practice on Saturday.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 17, 2019
I feel as though we will see a handful of different drivers lead the race on Sunday afternoon, and therefore this will not be a race that is dominated by two or three drivers. I think guys coming from mid-pack and beyond will be very important for position differential bonus points. In the truck race, I watched John Hunter Nemechek drop to the rear for the start of the race due to a penalty on Saturday, just to see him leading the race by lap 55 and finishing in the top-5, pushing his KBM teammate to the win.
Basically, you can pass even if it’s not easy. But let’s jump into some NASCAR DFS.
Top-5 NASCAR DFS Targets on DraftKings for Atlanta
Denny Hamlin | #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota | $10,100
The favorites to win the Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta are last year’s series Champion, Kyle Larson, and the winner of the 2021 spring race at this track, Ryan Blaney. Larson is appealing due to rolling off p.21, but I’m going to take a risk and roll the dice on Denny Hamlin. I do feel as though Larson is a good play and I will have some exposure, but the #11 needs a good run. Outside of the Las Vegas race, Toyota has performed as the third best of the three current manufacturers with the NextGen car.
In my opinion, Denny is the best plate racer that is presently active in the series. In his last nine superspeedway races, the Joe Gibbs racing driver has five top 10s. The team and Hamlin need to come out of Sunday’s race with a solid run. He starts 15th and will figure out a way to get upfront. He just needs to avoid trouble. Because of everything I have mentioned, I prefer him for GPPs over cash games.
Martin Truex Jr | #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota | $9,200
I’m going to be completely honest with you. I never imagined I’d be mentioning two Toyotas in my top-5 targets at this point in the 2022 season. However, we’re jumping on another Joe Gibbs Racing driver in veteran, Martin Truex Jr. Truex isn’t known for his plate racing prowess, but he is known for dialing his car in over the course of the race, and we’ve seen it happen already this year.
I will admit, this is a gamble. Over the course of the last four races at the old Atlanta, Truex has four top-10s and three top-5s with 69 laps lead. Over his four previous superspeedway races, he has finished 13th, 12th, 29th, and 31st.
Everyone wants me to tell them how Atlanta will race. News flash: Even drivers such as Martin Truex Jr. aren’t sure. pic.twitter.com/ojByQs9q7e
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) March 16, 2022
He will roll off Sunday p.26 due to weather canceling qualifying. I mentioned the place differential bonus points being very important and I am confident in paying the DK price of $9,200 to roster him expecting a top-10 and hoping for a top-5. He showed solid long-run speed in practice with a 9th overall 10-lap average, recorded on laps 21-30 of his run. He’s a good play in both cash and GPP for NASCAR DFS.
Aric Almirola | #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford | $7,600
For one of our mid-priced drivers, we’re jumping to a different manufacturer, Ford. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola had a rough 2021 season, but he’s started the 2022 season off in a very consistent fashion. His finishes this year in points-paying races are as follows: 5th, 6th, 6th, and 12th. A pretty incredible statistic if you look back to last season and remember that this will be his last season in the series as he will retire following this year.
The last time Almirola was on a plate track was the season opener at Daytona where he would start 38th and avoid last-lap trouble to bring his car home in 5th. His success on superspeedway tracks has been inconsistent, but his career as a whole has had its fair share of ups and downs.
He will start from p.10 on Sunday, and if he can avoid trouble again, I think he can build on his early-season momentum and snag another top-10. He also showed good long-run speed in practice. Something that I will again say is very important. I would however consider this more of a GPP play.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr | #47 JTG Racing Chevrolet | $7,100
I’m not going to wait until the end of this driver write-up to tell you that this is a tournament play only. One of the reasons that I love Rick Stenhouse Jr, is the fact that he always leaves it all on track. Sometimes, however, the end result isn’t what he had hoped for. Stenhouse is always a risky play, and with a new car and a new track, there is a lot of unexpected. What I do expect though is for Ricky to have a fast car.
Ricky Stenhouse tells @DougTurnbull: “We’re really, really fast. The @JTGRacing boys were fast when we loaded it in the trailer. It’s going to be an exciting race, track position’s going to be important but I feel if we can get out front we should have a pretty good day.”
— PRN (@PRNlive) March 19, 2022
Stenhouse posted the fastest lap in practice at 29.708 seconds and 186.616 mph. He also rolls off p.28, giving us the opportunity for those valuable position differential, NASCAR DFS bonus points. Again, this is a gamble and should really be a GPP play only.
Noah Gragson | #16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet | $5,800
Noah Gragson has started 2022 with a bang in the Xfinity Series recording four top-5s in four races, with a worst finish of third and a win at Phoenix Raceway last week for JR Motorsports. Now, I know this is not the Xfinity Series, however, momentum is on his side and he is in good equipment, running a part-time schedule for Kaulig Racing’s Cup Series program this year. Due to the fact that we have almost no data to go off of for Gragson in Cup, we are going to look at his Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta.
Over Noah’s last four races at the old version of this track, he has three top-5s, four top-10s, and 20 laps lead. When it comes to plate tracks for Gragson, he has finishes of 9th, 2nd, 4th and 3rd. Now, some more honesty — the notes I have for this race may be better off not used. Once again, we do not know what to expect.
What we do know is that Gragson is an aggressive driver, is in good equipment and this is his style of track to have success on. He starts from p.30 and is priced at $5,800 on Draftkings. We’re going to need a salary relief driver, and Gragson is my favorite of the few viable options.
Good luck on Sunday afternoon! Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @Nate_FFL and @TeamRiseOrFall for continued NASCAR DFS coverage and advice, as well as any late-breaking news prior to the green flag for the Ruoff Mortgage 500. Also, be sure to check out all the other great NASCAR DFS content at TeamRiseOrFall.com.