Contender Boats 250 (Xfinity)
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Welcome to another week of racing, Speed Degens! We’re FINALLY back at a more predictable track type in Homestead, and I could not be more excited. One thing to note is how much tire wear will affect these drivers. Given the abrasive surface, it’s likely that every pit stop will require four tires to be successful and that fast laps will vary depending on who pitted most recently. There are some interesting place differential opportunities thanks to the finishes the past two weeks at Daytona. Without further ado, let’s dig in!
Last year, thanks to the pandemic break in the schedule, there was a doubleheader at Homestead. Cindric, Gragson, and Graf Jr. could make it into the optimal lineup for each race. Both lineups consisted of 3 drivers starting BETTER than 20th, two drivers starting WORSE than 30th, and another driver in the 20s. While the rules I wrote for constructing winning Xfinity series lineups will likely still be applicable, it should be noted that they may not be as rigid this week following the road course race last Saturday. 1-2 dominators will be needed to succeed. Unlike the past two weeks at Daytona, it is more acceptable to roster drivers starting in the top 10 if you believe they will lead laps.
Drivers to Target
$10k and above
Tyler Reddick (38) – This is a steep price given the equipment he will be in this week, but I have to consider Reddick at least any time we come to Homestead. His favorite track, as evidenced by his finishes of 1st, 1st, 4th in his past 3 Xfinity races here. He’s one of the few drivers who can ride the fastest line within inches of the wall. I’m not sure how much of him I will have, but I can’t ignore his talent and huge place differential upside. It could pay off with a top 10, but will he need a top 5 to be optimal?
Noah Gragson (23) – Easily my favorite play in this range and, quite frankly, on the slate. In both Homestead races last season, Gragson had the best car overall and specifically in the long run. Like Reddick, he utilizes the high line here, and he also was successful at diving low as needed to pull off passes while still staying in the gas. He was optimal in both races last year despite not winning either one due to late cautions favoring teams with short-run cars. I fully expect him to rack up dom points and provide PD upside as well.
AJ Allmendinger (24) – AJ started 38th here last year and came away with a 4th place finish. He also won at Atlanta, another high banked, high-tire wear track. I’m not sure that I like him more than Gragson, but he should pay off with a top 5 finish.
***Note: I will likely also have some shares of Austin Cindric, but I may consider fading. He is starting on the pole and should be able to lead some early, but he’ll likely need 30 dom points and a top 5 to be optimal. The polesitter made the optimal lineup in 3 intermediate track races last year (Gragson at Kansas, Briscoe at Vegas, and Chastain at Charlotte). However, he did spend the most laps inside the top 5 in last year’s first Homestead race. Dillon is in play if you think he wins this race. I don’t, so, therefore, I will not be playing him.
$8k to $10k
Harrison Burton (3) – I’m not in love with this play, BUT if Cindric doesn’t lead early, Burton could be your guy. I think he’s more talented than his teammates starting around him (Hemric, Jones). He put himself in a position to win here last year after a late caution, and he’s grown as a driver, as seen by his strong performances to finish the 2020 season—potential low-owned dom play. I may have one lineup with him.
Riley Herbst (29) – Oh, Riley… Though Herbst was the only driver to have a negative PEER rating (per Motorsports Analytics), meaning he made his team worse by driving. He performed quite OK here at Homestead with finishes of 9th and 10th despite no previous experience at the track. Now, he’s in one of the top 5 cars in the series, arguably the best pit crew and starting in the back. He only needs a top 14 finish to hit 5x value! One of my favorite plays on the slate.
Michael Annett (18) – Herbst and Annett recommendations on the same slate?! We’re in trouble… Listen, I don’t think either is great, but Annett is serviceable on most intermediate tracks; he just doesn’t have the winning upside. His last five finishes at Homestead are 18, 6, 11, 9, 9. He was running 6th with five laps to go before being involved in a wreck last season that dropped him to 18th. He needs a top 9 finish to pay off his salary.
***Note: I may consider Myatt Snider, but I’m not enamored with the play. He’s in the right equipment and should be able to stay in the top 10. It probably will take a wait-and-see approach.
$6k to $8k
Ryan Sieg (22) – He doesn’t have the finishes here, but I like him as a sneaky GPP play. He had 15 dom points in the first race here last season and 7 in the second. This is a top 12 car, in my opinion, which is exactly what he needs to pay off.
Josh Berry (20) – I am slightly concerned about his lack of experience on these bigger tracks and no practice, but any time you can get a JR Motorsports car starting this far back, and at this price point, it has to be considered. Berry was doing well at Daytona before getting tangled up in a wreck, and I think he has legitimate top 10 upside.
Jeffrey Earnhardt (36) – I’ve already seen people in the industry saying that Earnhardt is too expensive, but I hope they’re wrong. He finished top 20 in both Homestead races last season. He’s driving for the same team but now has a more stable sponsorship. We only need a top 20 finish to hit 5x value. There are some cheaper plays to consider, but he’s my favorite in this range.
***Note: Most in this price range are starting too high to be optimal. If considering anyone else above $6000, it may be Santino Ferrucci.
JJ Yeley (39) – This is a top 15-25 car, and Yeley is a much better driver than several of the backmarkers in the series. He simply needs to finish better than 26th to hit 5x value, which he has done in 4/6 Xfinity series races at Homestead. I would not be surprised to see a top 20 finish and possibly a 7x value return on his salary.
Colby Howard (28) – Howard had his ups and downs last year getting used to the cars with limited experience, but he ran decent at Homestead with two 17th place finishes. He’s still with JD Motorsports (same as Earnhardt above) and needs to gain just six positions to pay off his salary.
Joe Graf Jr. (16) – I don’t love this play with him starting in the top 20. However, Graf is extremely cheap and had finishes of 13th and 16th at Homestead in 2020. He can pay off by merely repeating those performances and holding his position. Again, if I can avoid going this low, I will, but he opens many potential lineup constructions.
***Note: I may consider Stefan Parsons because I do think he’s more talented than given credit for. Also, Chad Finchum and David Starr could be regarded as proof that they will not be starting and parking. Updates will be posted in the FSD Slack chat!
I will likely be running 3-4 lineups this week, pairing Gragson with another driver above $10k in 3 of them and fading him in the other. As previously mentioned, he easily had the best car in both Homestead races last season, and I don’t expect that to change. There are several different ways to go, but luckily, almost half the field is unplayable due to their price and/or starting position.
Core: Gragson, Herbst, Yeley
Other Faves: Reddick, Sieg, Earnhardt
Best of luck, Speed Degens! If you have questions or comments, feel free to hop in the FSD slack chat or hit me up on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308)!