Wise Power 200 (Trucks)
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Welcome, Speed Degens, to this week’s Truck Series DFS Preview! After a few weeks away for a variety of reasons, it is nice to be back. This week, the series heads to Kansas Speedway, where drivers will hope to follow the yellow brick road to victory lane. Enough with the cheesiness; let’s dig in!
Quick Race Facts
- 1.5-mile D-shaped oval
- Race length: 200 miles (134 laps)
- Estimated hog points available: 75
2020 Optimal Lineups
Drivers to Target
$10k and above
Kyle Busch (2) – Another week, another $15,000 price tag… However, this time, Busch doesn’t provide much place differential upside. It is entirely possible, though, that he dominates this race. KBM trucks have historically been fast at Kansas, and he’s still the best driver in the race. In races where he made the optimal lineup in 2020, Busch scored a minimum of 84 points. To do that, he needs a win, and 40 hog points, equivalent to roughly 57 laps led and fast laps. Only one driver has scored that many hog points in the past 4 Kansas races, but they were not of Busch’s caliber.
John Hunter Nemechek (1) – As expected, JHN has been strong to start the season and should easily win the championship if he keeps this up. He is the only driver able to compete for wins with Busch and is nearly $5k cheaper. If he dominates or if they split the hog points, he has a more straightforward path to being optimal. Barring issues, I think those scenarios are more likely than Kyle just running away with it.
**Note: I’m not playing anyone else in this price range this week. While Briscoe, Chastain, and Enfinger are great drivers, they are in weak equipment, undeserving of their substantial price tags. In my opinion, the only way they are optimal is if the two above both have issues. They may be safer and can still hit the cash line, but takedowns are not likely with them in your lineup.
$8k to $10k
Zane Smith (9) – Zane hasn’t looked as impressive to start the season as he did in 2020. However, in the three races at Kansas last season, he appeared to have the fastest truck in races two and three. He had the most or 2nd most laps run in the top 5 in all three races. Though I expect the higher-priced options to dominate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up some fast laps and finish in the top 5.
Austin Hill (7) – Hill has been one of the best intermediate track racers over the past few years. He had 11 top 10 finishes at this track type in 2020, including finishes of 1st, 6th, and 3rd here at Kansas. Very similar projection to Zane Smith, but I feel he is safer.
Matt Crafton (12) – He had finishes of 8th, 1st, and 4th at Kansas in 2020. The win is a little misleading given how many strong trucks had issues, ruining their chances of winning. With the switch back to Toyota this season, Crafton has looked much better than he did to start 2020, as evidenced by driver rating ranks of 5th and 8th at the intermediate tracks this season. Again, similar projection to those above, but lower-priced and more place differential upside.
Christian Eckes (17) – He may not be in a KBM truck this year, but he’s still in good equipment. Grant Enfinger drove this truck in 2020 to finishes of 4, 3, and 3 at Kansas. Likewise, Eckes finished 6, 2, and 13 in those same races with KBM. I expect him to finish between 5th and 10th this week, right on the edge of hitting 6x value.
**Note: I may consider Derek Kraus and/or Sheldon Creed as well, but it will come down to construction. Kraus needs a ceiling-type day (top 5ish) to be optimal, and Creed is priced higher than those mentioned above despite having the same upside. Moffitt is no longer entered in this race after declaring to run for points in the Xfinity series.
$6k to $8k
Chandler Smith (5) – As previously mentioned, the KBM trucks are fast in Kansas! Smith struggled at times on intermediate tracks in 2020, but he finished 5th at Kansas last fall in his lone start. He could’ve possibly contended for the win, but lousy pit stops didn’t give him a chance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish and 3rd this week, which would achieve 6x value.
Raphael Lessard (15) – Man, he is such a boom-or-bust option, which explains his low price tag. On any given week, he is capable of a top 5 or crashing. He had two top 15 finishes at Kansas and finished 4th at Texas, a similar track. Lessard could be optimal with a full ten finish, achievable in his GMS Racing truck.
$6k and below
Tanner Gray (18) – Gray was a consistent source of underpriced value in 2020, and I think he has a chance to be that again this week. His finishes at Kansas last season were 18th, 4th, and 36th, with the latter two skewed by tire strategy and wrecks, respectively. He also finished 12th at Vegas earlier this year, which is the type of ceiling performance we need for him to be optimal.
Chase Purdy (23) – This is my favorite driver in this range, and I have him projected for a 7.5x value with a 12th place finish. In two races at Kansas in 2020, Purdy finished 10th and 15th while also finishing 12th at Texas last fall. He needs a finish of 16th or better to hit 6x value, which he should be easily capable of, barring issues, in his GMS Racing truck.
Bret Holmes (32) – Though we’ve been let down when playing Holmes earlier this season, I still can’t get away. He has run better than he has finished, and we saw Sam Mayer drive this truck to a 9th place finish at Richmond. It may not be a similar track, but it shows that this truck is more capable of better finishes than it has achieved and than the other drivers starting in this range. I have projected the ARCA Series champion for a 21st place finish, enough to hit 6x value.
Austin Wayne Self (16) – I rarely play Self outside Texas, but this pricing makes him very enticing. He had finished in the teens in all 3 Kansas races in 2020 and has finished in the teens in 4 of 6 races this season. Given the salary relief he provides, we simply need him to hold his position. I may avoid unless playing Kyle Busch, however, given the other value available on this slate.
**Note: Others I may play include Tate Fogleman and Carson Hocevar. Fogleman is more of a cash play given his place differential upside. I just like the others listed above more as they are all in better equipment. Hocevar has exceeded expectations thus far in 2021, but I think he’s starting too high to warrant my consideration any more than a GPP flier.
Final Thoughts/Lineup Construction
Lineups this week, as usual, will depend on your decision whether or not to play Kyle Busch. While he’s still in my pool because he can dominate an entire race, I find it hard to believe he will score enough points to be optimal. This is partially due to Nemechek being just as impressive so far in 2021 and no place differential upside and having hog point potential possibly limited by caution laps. I lean playing more JHN (10/20) than Busch (6/20), having few lineups with both of them (2/20), few without either of them (2/20). If fading both, my main dominators would be Hill and the Smiths.
As you may have noticed earlier, more drivers started near the front when looking at last year’s optimal lineups. In race #1, all drivers started in the top 20. Race #2 was slightly different since it was the second half of a doubleheader where the starting lineup was inverted, making the top trucks start 11th-20th. Regardless, only one driver started outside the top 20. Race #3 had three drivers starting in the top 10, with only one starting worse than 30th. If you look at drivers I am playing this week, only 2 of them start worse than 20th, and they are in play to provide salary relief.
Core 1: Nemechek/C. Smith/Purdy
Core 2: Busch/Purdy/Holmes
As always, 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). I am looking forward to seeing those green screens!