The NASCAR Xfinity Series makes its triumphant return to… Texas… Yikes. Not a very good race to lean into this weekend especially when we’re coming off such a phenomenal weekend for all three series racing at Bristol. But we’ll dive into Texas shortly. This is the second race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. An additional winner could be locked into the round of eight and join Justin Allgaier, who won last weekend at Bristol. Let’s dive into Saturday’s top NASCAR DFS drivers and strategies for Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 on DraftKings!
Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile intermediate track that draws comparisons to Vegas and Kansas, but it’s most similar to Charlotte with its quad-oval shape. This is a higher speed intermediate without a ton of tire wire so we can certainly draw comparisons to the tracks above while also looking at Michigan as well. Texas underwent a re-pave and basically a new configuration back in 2016 and it hasn’t produced the greatest racing at times. Kansas is a great intermediate track with multiple grooves and passing is possible. Texas often gets ripped apart for the one groove and for how easy it is for the leader to run up front with clean air.
Saturday’s race gives us 200 laps broken into the usual 45-45-110 lap segments that we tend to see at these tracks. With this many laps we probably end up with about 120-130 dominator points and given how difficult it is to pass here, we’ll certainly want to collect as many of those points as possible since PD could be difficult to nail. In this race a year ago there were nine cautions for 52 laps. 26% of this race was run under caution. Sounds about accurate for the Xfinity Series, right? The excess of cautions did allow for value plays like C.J. McLaughlin, Stefan Parsons, and Tommy Joe Martins to finish in the top 15 while Matt Mills finished just outside that window in 16th. But the three-dominator approach played out as expected with three different drivers leading at least 30 laps, including two leading at least 60. The Spring race in 2022 had 11 cautions for 62 laps with four drivers leading at least 30 laps but without as many value PD darlings. Two years ago, we again had three drivers lead at least 30 laps with ten cautions for 54 laps and a few PD plays coming through finishing in the top 20. The first Texas race of 2021 is a bit of an outlier. The reason being is that Kyle Busch won that race easily leading 94 laps with 58 fastest laps. There were still ten cautions for 52 laps but not as many value drivers moving up through the field.
With that said, I do think it’s viable that we see at least eight cautions with 25% of this race run under caution. That is relatively on par with what we’ve come to expect from this series. It’s my least favorite of the three NASCAR Series for DFS and this is one of my least favorite tracks. And yet, I’ll be sucked into DFS contests because I can’t quit these fools. I will mostly be building my NASCAR DFS lineups trying to perfectly hit on two-to-three dominators. But I also want at least four drivers starting in the top 20 and maybe hope to get lucky with a value play or two starting deeper in the field. As always, this Playbook will be updated in RED following practice and qualifying Saturday morning.
NASCAR DFS Driver Pool
John Hunter Nemechek ($11,300)
Nothing bold by leading off with John Hunter Nemechek for this Playbook. He has six wins on the season and has finished top three in three straight races coming into Texas. He won the pole in the Truck Series at Texas back in 2021 and 2022 winning one of those races with 78 laps led between those two outings. He even won this race two years ago in the Xfinity Series leading 92 laps. Just two weeks ago, JHN led 154 laps at Kansas with 53 fast laps in a winning effort. He’s the clear-cut favorite to dominate and win this race and we have no reason to believe the car won’t show up with speed. Update: Offers PD and has win equity. Car could be set up for a warmer and more slick track.
Justin Allgaier ($11,000)
Surprisingly, Allgaier has raced here 25 times in his Xfinity Series career and he’s never won. In five of his last nine races he’s led at least 20 laps. He wrecked in this race a year ago, but he’s looked great on the comparable tracks. He finished second at Vegas, he won Charlotte earlier this year, and even though he finished 18th at Kansas a couple weeks ago, he did lead 40 laps after winning the pole. He’s coming off a win at Bristol last week so if you don’t think he goes back-to-back I can see why you might not want to play him in too many lineups. Update: On the pole and prefers the warmer conditions this race will be run during.
Trevor Bayne ($10,200)
I wasn’t sure who else to include in the $10K range. I’ll give Bayne the nod ahead of practice and qualifying on Saturday. This 19-car should have plenty of speed. It’s been fast regardless who is driving it. Joe Graf Jr. grabbed a top ten in this car two weeks ago at Kansas. Even Bayne finished seventh in this ride last week at Bristol, his home track. This car has won three races this season and Bayne is the kind of driver that could get some dominator points and a strong finish out of this ride. Update: On the front row and the car looks FAST. Cole Custer looks like a great pivot if you don't think Bayne can get up front. Custer was very sporty in practice.
Sam Mayer ($9,800)
Since February of 2020, Sam Mayer has the best average finish of any driver in this field at Texas. He finished third in this race in the Spring of 2022 and eighth last Fall. Now we don’t get the same discount on him from last year because he’s started to win races this year. He’s wrecked in his last two races so momentum isn’t on his side. He now finds himself 14 points beneath the cut line for the round of eight so he definitely needs to avoid the carnage this weekend to get himself a good finish if he wants to continue racing for a championship. Update: Starts a little high at P6 but still looks fast. You could pivot to Sammy Smith if you felt so inclined but I'm still happy with Mayer.
Sheldon Creed ($9,100)
I want to believe he can be good here. He just fails to show up with speed as consistently as his teammate does. Creed did start P13 in this race a year ago and he finished seventh. He even dominated this truck race three years ago where he won it from the pole and led 131 laps. He does have momentum coming into this race. He’s finished 12th or better in seven straight races including five finishes of eighth or better in that span. He finished third at Kansas just two weeks ago so I think that’s a repeatable performance. Update: Starts outside the top 20 so he's going to be popular. I think you can play him because as hard as it can be to pass here, it's still a good car. Not a spot I would fade, surprisingly.
Daniel Hemric ($8,800)
We’re going to ride the momentum of Hemric’s solid performance at Bristol last Friday night. He grabbed his third runner-up finish of the season while leading 33 laps. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t hold off Justin Allgaier who was on fresher tires. I didn’t get to watch the Kansas race a couple weeks ago but I’m going to guess that he had an issue early on and couldn’t regain track position. However, I think it’s worth noting the car did have speed despite finishing outside the top 30, otherwise he wouldn’t have logged 39 fastest laps. I’m sure getting off cycle with the tire strategy played a role but overall if the team brings a similar setup to Texas they could contend.
Riley Herbst ($8,400)
Herbst’s career average finish position is dragged down because he didn’t finish two Texas races during his time with Joe Gibbs Racing. But in four races at this track with SHR he’s finished top 12 in each including a top five in this race a year ago. He definitely has the equipment for another top ten finish in him for Saturday’s race but he’s always a risk. He finished eight at Vegas, 14th at Charlotte, and 23rd at Kansas two weeks ago. So he’s kind of all over the place, but track history is on his side.
Layne Riggs ($7,700)
This is a bit of a steep price tag on Riggs and it certainly feels like it could be a trap. Riggs is a bit of a Truck Series darling for his two impressive performances at IRP the last couple years. But now he gets a unique test at Texas. He has a short-track background but he did race Atlanta earlier in the year in the Truck Series so he got his feet wet on the higher speed tracks. The thing you have to like about Riggs is that he’ll be in Kaulig Racing equipment. It’s surprising that he’s priced above Jeb Burton but there’s top ten equity with this play at least. Update: I'm fine playing Riggs in Cash because he starts dead last. BE WARNED, he put his car in the wall in practice and had some damage. The team will make repairs but he even said he was caught off guard by how slick the track was and it'll only get worse during the race. Not a slam dunk in Tournaments because of the inexperience and lack of practice after he wrecked.
Jeb Burton ($7,500)
So Burton has PD at P28, but the broadcast did note that he has a new car this week(?) and so I'm kind of intrigued based off of that. He's still live for the playoffs and needs a great day to stay alive for the round of eight.
Kaz Grala ($7,000)
I actually don’t hate the price tag on Grala when you consider Connor Mosack, his teammate, is $100 cheaper and Mosack is notorious for wrecking. Grala grabbed a top ten at Kansas two weeks ago and had another one last week at Bristol. Can he make it three straight? Possibly! He had a good showing earlier in the year at Charlotte where he started P32 and finished 16th. He does have experience at Texas with a pair of top 20 finishes in three races. And on top on that he gained at least ten spots of PD in two of those races as well.
Jeremy Clements ($6,700)
I haven’t felt great about the equipment he’s been in this year. Maybe the team doesn’t have as much funding as in year’s past. But he’s raced here 28 times in his Xfinity Series career and that’s saying something compared to the rest of the field. Keep in mind, we really only pull data from the races since the track was re-built. In five of his last ten races he’s finished 16th or better. But again, I haven’t been as sold in him in 2023, but he did finished 15th at Kansas two weeks ago.
Anthony Alfredo ($6,500)
He's live for the PD but not a lock as we know the equipment isn't great. He's gotten the most of it at times and could finish top 20 but ownership could be juiced a bit.
Kyle Weatherman ($6,100)
Full disclosure, he has not done well in any DGM equipment he’s raced in this year. He wrecked two weeks ago at Kansas. Then he had an electrical issue at Michigan. And he wrecked at Atlanta-2. I guess we can hang our hats on a top 20 at Charlotte from Memorial Day Weekend? The fact remains that he’s a good driver, but this equipment hasn’t held up for him. However, we also just know he has that kind of magic in him to potentially steal a top 15 finish. Update: Starts a little too high at P12 but still live for Tournaments if he somehow steals a top ten.
Joey Gase ($5,100)
It really depends on where he qualifies, but maybe we just try to squeeze six or seven spots of PD out of him. Two weeks ago at Kansas he started P36 and finished 24th. At Pocono and Nashville, he started P37 and finished 31st. At Richmond he started P35 and finished 27th. I’m not saying we need a top 25, but if he starts deep in the field he at least has the veteran experience to keep a level head and run a clean race even if he loses the lead lap.
Garrett Smithley ($4,900)
Purely a gut play here and even one that I don’t like that much. Honestly, the next driver has more appeal to me and he’s $100 less. But Smithley started P34 last week and finished 25th. Now that is one of his best finishes this year despite the equipment. Last year he started P37 and finished 23rd with BJ McLeod’s team. The year before he grabbed a top 25 with SS Green Light Racing. Even four years ago with JD Motorsports he finished 17th at Texas. Update: DNQ. Do not play Smithley.
C.J. McLaughlin ($4,800)
McLaughlin gets an equipment upgrade this week as he’ll be driving for RSS Racing. Two weeks ago with this team he started P38 at Kansas and finished 22nd. In his last four races at Texas he has an average starting spot of 36.3 and an average finishing position of 22.5 so given the track history and the equipment upgrade I see no point in not using him as a value play. But I imagine most of the field will as well if they catch on to the news of what car he’ll be in exactly. In this race a year ago, with RSS Racing, he started P35 and grabbed a top ten. That’s an outstanding performance for him and I wouldn’t expect a repeat. But I wouldn’t rule out top 20 finish which could put him in the optimal lineup at this price tag. Update: Starts P37, I'm fine with this play in all formats.
NASCAR DFS Core Drivers
Cash Games: JHN, Allgaier, Creed, Burton, Riggs, McLaughlin and yes you can still play these drivers in Tournaments...
GPP Plays/Pivots: Custer, Bayne, Herbst, Moffitt, Alfredo, Weatherman, Williams