NASCAR DFS Picks, Fades, Projections for Chicagoland

NASCAR’s in Chicago this weekend for another 1.5-miler. As usual, I’ll give you all my NASCAR DFS picks and projections. I have a special treat this week with three models, that I explain in detail in the models section below. Also, the NASCAR DFS Multi-Lineup OptimizerSim Scores, and Splits apps are updated for your NASCAR DFS needs.

I will have RotoViz Live posted by three hours before lineup locik, so be sure to get your questions in by then using #RVLive on Twitter.

If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the large oval section of my track types article. Brush up on your general GPP strategy and game theory if you want to have a shot at taking down first place. If you’re more of a cash game player, check out how to target high floor drivers, and remember to find any potential race dominators.

Let’s get to the NASCAR DFS picks, rankings, and projections for Chicagoland!


The model projections assume that the driver finishes the race – hence why you don’t see any average finishing positions worse than about 32nd. The Pts column shows the average projected DraftKings points for races when the driver finishes the race.

NOTE: I’m working on ownership projections. Will be up shortly.

This weekend I have three models:

  • Model 1: the first is based only off Chicagoland data since 2015, with an R^2 of 0.75, and is the standard track-based model I use most weekends.
  • Model 2: The second is based off a hybrid of Chicagoland data since 2015, plus the large ovals in 2018, with an R^2 of 0.66
  • Model 3: The third is based off 2018 large ovals, plus the Chicagoland race from only last year instead of back to 2015, with an R^2 of 0.63.

I think you shouldn’t focus on the individual R^2, because I think this year’s data has plenty of value in understanding how these cars race at large ovals. Instead, I’d focus on the range of outcomes among these three models, plus the range of outcomes from the Sim Scores. Here are the three models:

Model 1:

Paul Menard114.883.896.3419.38700022.8%
Ryan Blaney27.2924.4716.9446.01830032.9%
Chase Elliott314.6511.177.6524.32850011.3%
Kurt Busch49.6622.0313.5040.94840013.2%
Clint Bowyer57.1217.2712.7245.44970016.0%
Aric Almirola614.206.865.2925.97890014.4%
Brad Keselowski78.2321.1613.4846.581000018.0%
William Byron816.414.255.3622.93640012.3%
Erik Jones913.509.568.4232.60790010.7%
Daniel Suarez1017.342.033.5621.60750010.9%
Kevin Harvick117.1025.8419.1156.811180031.6%
Joey Logano1210.6611.597.7241.43950015.3%
Jamie McMurray1317.771.443.3323.48810013.7%
Austin Dillon1419.480.432.1120.21710010.2%
Alex Bowman1517.481.355.2126.9877009.2%
Kyle Busch169.2126.6019.0557.761140018.5%
Ryan Newman1713.601.133.4635.81730010.1%
Kyle Larson187.3121.9913.8759.811040023.3%
AJ Allmendinger1925.000.463.1414.6966008.8%
Ricky Stenhouse Jr2015.731.756.4436.19680024.7%
Trevor Bayne2124.930.341.8316.1455009.0%
Darrell Wallace Jr2226.220.141.1614.16620012.0%
David Ragan2325.550.111.2216.54580011.9%
Kasey Kahne2417.040.963.4835.89690016.1%
Ty Dillon2529.670.120.7810.07560014.0%
Michael McDowell2622.360.472.6526.72600012.3%
Ross Chastain2732.150.110.747.1050004.9%
Matt DiBenedetto2828.960.151.3014.77540010.4%
Gray Gaulding2932.760.110.467.7447003.3%
Kyle Weatherman3033.200.100.507.8745001.8%
Landon Cassill3131.740.100.6511.8652004.5%
Corey Lajoie3233.380.110.369.4449003.7%
BJ McLeod3333.580.100.3610.05
Reed Sorenson3433.570.100.3511.0648002.3%
Timmy Hill3533.580.100.3412.0546001.3%
Martin Truex Jr367.7525.5418.8780.321090049.5%
Denny Hamlin377.0118.7410.2176.77930044.9%
Jimmie Johnson3816.534.234.1152.04870030.4%
Chris Buescher3926.020.090.8931.43630039.9%

Model 2:

Paul Menard112.280.452.5221.81
Ryan Blaney211.1612.316.0929.81
Chase Elliott312.8119.2013.1332.75
Kurt Busch410.6914.3415.6238.01
Clint Bowyer57.4613.1714.5244.64
Aric Almirola611.2710.5211.2035.68
Brad Keselowski78.4623.2314.5847.17
William Byron817.682.214.2819.33
Erik Jones912.581.876.9331.76
Daniel Suarez1014.523.523.8527.77
Kevin Harvick117.4626.0417.0755.12
Joey Logano1210.9414.3116.6446.03
Jamie McMurray1316.330.563.2026.07
Austin Dillon1418.550.243.0022.46
Alex Bowman1515.273.414.7831.69
Kyle Busch1611.2131.2917.6954.25
Ryan Newman1717.421.432.4627.76
Kyle Larson188.8021.427.3953.45
AJ Allmendinger1920.810.161.5222.19
Ricky Stenhouse Jr2013.522.724.3939.84
Trevor Bayne2121.300.181.1223.02
Darrell Wallace Jr2221.940.051.6722.98
David Ragan2322.980.161.5421.84
Kasey Kahne2416.760.402.1735.67
Ty Dillon2524.710.061.0320.11
Michael McDowell2621.260.251.1128.09
Ross Chastain2727.100.060.8217.22
Matt DiBenedetto2822.720.110.4826.83
Gray Gaulding2930.510.160.2412.14
Kyle Weatherman3033.030.080.718.32
Landon Cassill3130.920.070.5713.46
Corey Lajoie3233.
BJ McLeod3332.610.090.3311.96
Reed Sorenson3433.520.180.1911.11
Timmy Hill3533.560.180.1712.01
Martin Truex Jr3614.9627.2016.9865.37
Denny Hamlin3714.7120.2916.7065.00
Jimmie Johnson3821.2914.718.7947.48
Chris Buescher3927.610.171.2928.47

Model 3:

Paul Menard112.447.567.9926.00
Ryan Blaney27.5729.2717.9847.17
Chase Elliott39.6418.6812.0338.40
Kurt Busch49.0011.009.7837.63
Clint Bowyer57.8610.489.2140.51
Aric Almirola68.701.424.5035.20
Brad Keselowski76.9415.2311.3246.60
William Byron814.222.193.3125.76
Erik Jones910.851.203.0633.12
Daniel Suarez1016.471.464.1823.51
Kevin Harvick115.1347.4129.8071.48
Joey Logano128.886.817.7243.80
Jamie McMurray139.621.953.1839.84
Austin Dillon1417.270.282.2624.66
Alex Bowman1516.902.763.1527.46
Kyle Busch168.3949.0030.0770.50
Ryan Newman1715.400.452.4431.53
Kyle Larson187.7610.528.6053.41
AJ Allmendinger1922.821.622.5419.03
Ricky Stenhouse Jr2016.224.463.2934.33
Trevor Bayne2121.770.381.5022.31
Darrell Wallace Jr2219.990.511.6026.95
David Ragan2322.190.191.5423.43
Kasey Kahne2418.431.524.0433.54
Ty Dillon2522.580.090.7424.23
Michael McDowell2622.150.131.0726.26
Ross Chastain2725.320.090.6020.68
Matt DiBenedetto2824.400.090.9823.72
Gray Gaulding2927.160.090.3418.87
Kyle Weatherman3030.760.060.3720.68
Landon Cassill3127.360.120.4320.53
Corey Lajoie3229.100.090.2617.95
BJ McLeod3331.400.070.4714.46
Reed Sorenson3431.130.070.2615.89
Timmy Hill3532.390.100.2614.38
Martin Truex Jr3611.8323.9620.4572.57
Denny Hamlin3710.018.208.0467.06
Jimmie Johnson3817.137.446.7252.96
Chris Buescher3926.460.050.8730.53


Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900) — Truex was one of four cars to fail post-qualifying inspection, which made his qualifying time invalid, relegating him to a 36th place starting position both in the race, and for DraftKing scoring purposes. According to NBC, Truex had the fastest average speed among all laps in final practice, and he had the best 10-lap average in first practice. He hasn’t been dominant on the 1.5-milers, but he’s been a top five car. Play him with confidence.

Denny Hamlin ($9300) — Hamlin and Johnson are both viable cash game plays given both of their teams failed post-qualifying inspection, putting them back in the 37th and 38th starting spots. However, the data backs up Hamlin, and it’s not really close. All three of the models assign Hamlin an average finish of at least seven places better, and the Sim Scores agree, giving Hamlin a high/median/floor of 3/8/17 compared to Johnson’s 12/21/25 line. Even adjusting for salary, this is a no-brainer one-v-one for Hamlin. You can definitely play both in cash, but if you want to pick one, go with Hamlin.

Chris Buescher ($6300) — Buescher was actually going to be one of my sneaky picks, given he practiced in 11th in race trim in final practice. Yes, his 10-lap average was poor, coming in at only 23rd of 26 drivers who ran 10 consecutive laps, but that’s still a vast improvement from his 39th place starting position. Buescher was much faster on speed in qualifying, making the top-24, but like the others in this section, his team failed post-qualifying inspection, placing him dead last in the starting lineup. He can only move forward.


Ryan Blaney ($8300) — On the podcast earlier this weekend, I talked about how Blaney was underpriced. Now he starts second, to pseudo-teammate Paul Menard, but Blaney clearly has the superior 1.5-mile record this year. Blaney and Menard had similar 10-lap average times in final practice, but Blaney’s came later in the session, as temperatures heated up and the track slowed down. That means advantage Blaney. He’s also been better on restarts this year according to

Jimmie Johnson ($8700) — Duh, if you’re not playing Johnson in cash, you should still have plenty of GPP exposure to him. I actually think Johnson will be the lowest owned of the back-four starters given his price tag relative to expectation. That means he’s a solid GPP play just based off ownership percentage alone. The Sim Scores give Johnson a ceiling of 12th place, which would equate to 58 DraftKings points. I don’t mind a situation where you go underweight on one (or both) of Hamlin or Truex, and overweight on Johnson

Kevin Harvick ($11,800) — Harvick certainly won’t lead the opening laps, but his 10-lap average in final practice is an indication that he has a car as good, or better than all the other elite drivers. Truex is relegated to the back, Kyle Busch has failed to show speed, Kyle Larson damaged his car in practice and hasn’t been as quick, and projects for a lower finish. Harvick’s upside is immense. He still projects for 30-40 percent of the laps lead as an upside. Additionally, the top 14 historical track-driver combinations for Harvick this weekend are all Truex or Harvick comps at 1.5-milers, including five starts of 11th to 13th. In four of those five starts, the comp lead at least 17 percent of the laps and all five finished inside the top five.

ONE MORE LATE PICK (kind of a Pole Menard pick of the week): Bubba Wallace. Good practice times, should be very low owned. Love as a qualifier play.


William Byron ($6400) — At times in practice, Byron looked really strong this weekend. However, each of those times seemed to come on the short run, or in qualifying trim. That played out in actual qualifying, where Byron starts eighth for the race. None of the models give him an average finish better than 14th. Sure, his upside is probably top eight, but even then, it’s a low probability event. With Buescher at $6300, you probably don’t need Byron except as a super-contrarian pivot, or in a rare lineup where you start both drivers. I’ll probably just have zero Byron, or maybe at most a sprinkle, up to five percent.

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Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
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