Bucked Up 200 (Trucks)

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Friday, March 5, 2021

Welcome, Speed Degens, to this week’s Truck Series DFS Preview! After an off week for the series, it’s nice to have them back. Unfortunately, the discussion is similar to the races in the other series last week. The starting lineup is jumbled due to the last race being at the Daytona road course, thus giving us several different ways to go with lineups this week. Let’s dig in!

Race Information

Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, tweeted this week that he can’t stand seeing unsponsored trucks in the race. Me too, but with his brand attached to the series, it probably irks him even more. What can be done? Marcus extended an offer of $15000 to unsponsored teams this week if they will run the Camping World blue and yellow paint scheme with extra incentives for top 10, top 5, and win up to $50000! Ten teams will be sporting the colors, making it possibly difficult for spotters to track their drivers. It may be quite odd to see so many trucks looking the same, but I will take it over plain trucks everyday! The drivers who will be sponsored by Camping World are: Sheldon Creed, Jordan Anderson, Norm Benning, Grant Enfinger, Raphael Lessard, Jesse Iwuji, BJ McLeod, Dawson Cram, Tyler Hill, and Parker Kligerman. 

How does this affect the racing? It may not have much impact at all, but I’d be willing to bet that it will. There’s the potential for carnage since some of these smaller teams with no shot at finishing in the top 10 may try to lay it all on the line to get the extra bonus. Some may be smart and take the $15000, not chancing their luck (likely Iwuji, Cram, Hill, McLeod). Others who are more used to being near the front may be pushing it to the limit as well. Whether it works for him, ends their day, or gets others involved remains to be seen, but it has at least created some hype and I’m ready to see what happens!

Last Year’s Vegas Races

  • Last spring at Vegas, the optimal lineup consisted of Kyle Busch, Todd Gilliland, Ben Rhodes, Tanner Gray, Brennan Poole, and Codie Rohrbaugh, starting in positions 3, 25, 18, 14, 23, and 27, respectively.
  • It should be noted that Gilliland, Poole, and Gray were underpriced compared to their season averages. This lineup had two drivers priced in the $8k range and 3 punts below $7k. Given the lineup this week, I expect the optimal lineup to differ.
  • Busch led 27 laps on his way to a win and 58 dominator points. The rest of the field combined for a total of 37 dominator points. 
  • 10 of the top 15 finishers started in the top 15. 3 of those who didn’t ran into issues that forced them to the back. This trend may not continue this week with the amount of place differential plays available.
  • The fall race optimal lineup will likely not be very helpful since lineup construction differs so greatly when Kyle Busch is entered into the race. Austin Hill won the race, but Sheldon Creed had the best truck all night long. Together, they combined for 63 of the 86 available dominator points. 

Drivers to Target

$10k and above

Kyle Busch (29) – This will be the most pivotal decision of the entire slate and dictate how your roster will be constructed. That $15,000 price tag may be shocking at first, but it’s warranted when you see how good Busch has been in these lower series. In his 5 Truck series starts in 2020, he had 3 wins, a runner-up finish (to Chase Elliott), and 22nd (due to 2 pit penalties). He scored at least 19 dominator points in each of those races and 22 or more in his past 3 races at Las Vegas. Starting 29th, he may have a slightly harder time racking up those points, but he should be able to make up for it with place differential. Last season, he never started worse than 16th and still had a chance to be optimal in every race. Also, for what it’s worth, in the 2020 Las Vegas spring race, he was 3 mph faster than the rest of the field!

Austin Hill (31) – Hill has been very good in his Hattori Racing truck, especially at intermediate tracks like Vegas. He had 11 top 10 finishes at this track type in 2020, and his last 3 finishes here at Vegas are 1st, 3rd, and 1st. Like Busch, it’s unusual to see Hill starting this far back, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish in the top 3 on Friday night.

Zane Smith (32) – Zane had his ups and downs in 2020, at times looking like arguably the best driver in the series. He finished 7th and 6th here last year and provides great place differential starting this far back. I don’t think he wins the race, but if he avoids trouble, he has top 5 upside.

Parker Kligerman (40) – Starting dead last, he won’t kill your lineup, but I have a hard time thinking that he will be in the optimal lineup. Kligerman is a respectable driver and has immense place differential upside, but this is about a 15th place truck. Given the plays above and potential dominator plays below, it may be hard for him to score enough to unseat one of the others. While they have 6x value upside, he is more likely to score 5x his salary. As mentioned earlier, he will be one of the 10 trucks with Camping World sponsorship.

***Note: Obviously, you can’t play all 4 of these drivers. I would rank them in the same order as their salaries. In my Kyle Busch lineups, I will play him with one of these drivers or one of the drivers in the $9,000 range mentioned below. If fading Busch, I will likely have at least 2 of Hill, Smith, or Kligerman in my lineup, in addition to one of the next few drivers mentioned.

$8k to $10k

Sheldon Creed (2) – The 2020 series champion (and highest rated restarter) should have little problem leading early in this race, starting on the front row. He has been good at Vegas with finishes of 5, 1, 6, and 2 in the last 4. It was obvious that he had the best truck in last year’s fall race where he scored the most dom points and ran ALL BUT ONE lap inside the top 5! For reference, Austin Hill, who won the race, ran the 6th most laps in the top 5 with 36%. While I do expect Busch to make his way through the field and compete for the win, Creed should have the best chance to lead until the stage break, as it took Busch the entire first stage to climb from 16th to 6th last year at Charlotte. Also, he has extra incentive this week with the Camping World $50k bonus if he wins the race.

John Hunter Nemechek (3) – If Creed doesn’t grab the lead early, Nemechek is my next favorite option to do so. JHN has dropped down to the Truck series after one year in Cup and will be in a strong Kyle Busch Motorsports truck. Combine his aggressive driving style and experience with the strong equipment and he has the potential to win this race. I wouldn’t play him and Creed together as that strategy invites too much risk and is not correlative, but both make fine options to pair with the place differential options priced above $10k, assuming you believe one of them is able to lead early.

May consider: Brett Moffitt, Johnny Sauter

$6k to $8k

There are many plays in this range worth mentioning. Right after the Kyle Busch decision, this range could be the difference between cashing or not. If you have questions about anyone not listed below, ask me about them in the FSD slack chat!

Conor Daly (36) – Daly will be driving in a Niece Motorsports truck and should finish somewhere between 10th and 20th. In fact, he finished 18th here last fall. The former IndyCar driver lacks strong experience in the Truck series, but is very talented and provides great place differential. Needs to finish 16th for 6x value, 20th for 5x.

Raphael Lessard (13), Chandler Smith (7), Derek Kraus (8) – These young drivers are all similar plays and should be underowned compared to others in this range. All have the potential to finish in the top 5, but good luck choosing the right one. Lessard is now racing for a new team and didn’t finish well here in 2020, but he is starting further back. Chandler struggled at intermediate tracks initially due to the aerodynamic effects not previously felt at short tracks, but he got better as the season went on, finishing 5th last fall here and another similar track, Kansas. Kraus struggled with a loose race truck in both races here last year, but when he avoids trouble, he is a strong bet for a top 10. If I had to rank them, I’d go Smith, Kraus, then Lessard.

Tanner Gray (22) – Gray had an up-and-down year in 2020, posting four finishes of 4th or better, but also 4 finishes of 30th or worse. Fortunately, he had finishes of 3rd and 8th in the two Vegas races. He needs to finish in the top 11 for a 6x return on salary. Does his equipment struggle with more resources devoted to his teammates, Hailie Deegan and team owner David Gilliland?

Chase Purdy (21) – Purdy was not very impressive in limited action last season, but it was his first year and the lack of practice certainly didn’t do him any favors. He is still racing in GMS Racing equipment, giving him the opportunity to finish top 10 in most races. Though he did not do well at Vegas in 2020, he had 3 strong top 15 finishes at Kansas and Texas, two similar tracks, which would yield 5x value.

Hailie Deegan (30), Ryan Truex (24) – I suspect that these two will be the highest owned drivers in this range, except for possibly Daly. Both have top 15 potential and are underpriced. Add in the fact that they are recognized more by casual fans and the chalk will be flying. They are good plays for sure, with Truex having 4 finishes of 13th or better at this track type in 2020 and Deegan finishing 16th at Kansas in her first career Truck series start. A top 15 finish from either would give them a good shot of making the optimal lineup.

***Note: Obviously, lineup construction will dictate who I land on most in this range, but initially, if I had to rank them (favorite to least favorite) given ownership and upside, it would go: Truex, Purdy, Gray, Daly, Smith, Deegan, Kraus, Lessard.

Below $6k

Bret Holmes (38) – This is realistically the only punt below $6k that I will be considering. All of the others carry too much risk or will likely be multiple laps down. Holmes is the defending ARCA series champion and has started a Truck series team this year. While I don’t expect them to come out blazing, the Holmes family has a strong ARCA team and quality equipment. I expect he should be able to possibly finish in the top 25. A finish of 22nd or better would pay off 6x value, but this play is more about fitting in studs up top more than anything.

May consider: Tyler Hill

Final Thoughts

When constructing lineups, it all starts with Kyle Busch. I’m projecting him for over 90 points, which would be 6x value. Even if he doesn’t have a single lap led or fastest lap (not likely to happen) and were to finish 2nd, he would score 69 points (nice), which would be just under 5x. While I like to target 5x value, the raw point total would be comparable, if not still higher, than all other drivers. 

After Busch, you have to decide which is more important to you to fit in: an early dominator with potential to steal the win (Creed, JHN) or place differential with top 3 potential (Hill, Smith). I do not believe it will be optimal to play Busch without one of these 4 drivers. Their upside is just too great for any in lower salary tiers to match. 

If fading Busch, I would play at least 2 high-priced place differential plays with one of the other choices as a dominator. In this scenario, you hope Busch struggles and doesn’t take the dominator points, in which case, the upside for others would be even higher. 

I don’t have core plays this week since it depends on how you prefer to build your lineup, but I have explained the 3 potential routes I will be going with this week: Busch+dom, Busch+PD, and all PD. Also, if you scroll up, I ranked the drivers in the mid tier that I would target.

Best of luck this week, Speed Degens! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to join the FREE (see what I did there?) Fantasy Sports Degens slack chat or hit me up on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308).