After nearly a month off, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back in action in the midst of the playoffs and what better place to return to action than Kansas Speedway? Friday’s race marks the final race of the Round of Ten so the stakes are pretty high for Friday night’s action. Zane Smith currently sits third in the playoff standings (only because Grant Enfinger and Chandler Smith won to advance to the next round), but he flat out dominated this race in the Spring leading over 100 laps with a perfect driver rating of 150. Can he go back-to-back at Kansas? He hasn’t won since his last appearance at this track and the field is plenty hungry to get the win and lock in their spot in the next round. Let’s dive into the NASCAR DFS picks to kick off a great weekend of sports!
Let’s address the elephant in the room. The contests on DraftKings for this race are awful. Truly garbage. It’s a bit of a head scratcher too. The $4, 20-entry max Chrome Horn is only paying out $600 to first. The $1, 20-entry max Happy Hour is only paying $250 to first. In terms of ROI that’s probably the better contest to target. But if you want a bigger payout, the best contest might be the $10 Piston with $10,000 to first. We see this every year once NFL returns; the NASCAR contests become largely unplayable aside from the big GPP. I’ll likely throw three lineups in that contest and see what happens. That doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in this race so let’s dig into Friday’s schedule.
This is one of those Playbooks that I’m getting out ahead of practice and qualifying because I’ll be at work and would rather update the Playbook, rather than writing a whole new one while running around handling my normal full-time responsibilities. Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile multi-groove tri-oval which produces some high-quality racing since you can put your ride anywhere on the track. In the last five races we haven’t seen too many cautions. What a relief, right? Four of the last five races have had five or fewer cautions for 25 laps at the most. There was one outlier race in 2020 that had nine cautions for 38 laps, but for the most part I think we can expect a pretty clean race.
Friday’s schedule will see the Trucks take the track at 3:00pm ET with qualifying happening shortly after, probably between 3:30-3:45pm ET. Green flag is scheduled for 7:43pm ET for 134 laps broken into 30-30-74 lap segments. Depending on how qualifying shakes out I’ll likely be taking a two-dominator approach with most of my builds.
Zane Smith ($11,200) He’s expensive, but worth it. In five races at Kansas he’s led 212 laps and never finished worse than 11th. Now about half those laps came in the Spring race, but he’s led 37, 50, and 17 laps in three other races. We haven’t seen this series run too many 1.5-mile tracks this year but he did finish top five at Charlotte while leading 52 laps and in five of his last seven races entering Kansas, Smith has finish second or third. He’s knocking on the door of his fourth win of the year, which probably explains why he’s the favorite to win this race and he’s getting even money to finish in the top three.
John Hunter Nemechek ($10,900) The Playbook will be frontloaded with plenty of spend up options given that the best drivers should finish well if the race is clean, and it’s a cut off race for the playoffs. In his last four races at Kansas, JHN has won the pole twice and finished sixth, fifth, fourth, and third. He got off to a rough start this year, but has rebounded well despite just one win. That’s what’ll happen when Kyle Busch isn’t racing in the Truck Series as much to let you win. This year, he’s won the pole at Vegas, Darlington, Kansas, and Texas so it’s a safe bet that he’ll be starting well with an early chance to collect dominator points. As a direct pivot off JHN, you can target Ryan Preece ($10,700) who has finished seventh or better in six of his seven appearances this year including a win at Nashville. He’s led some laps in each of his last four races and has similar dominator appeal to JHN if he qualifies well. Update: JHN was the fastest in ten-lap averages and he scored the pole for tonight's race. A top five with some dominators is well within reach. Solid play for Cash and GPP's, but I wouldn't not aim to be overweight on him.
Ty Majeski ($10,100) I’m hopeful Majeski can rekindle the streak he had prior to the four-week layoff. He led at least 70 laps at both IRP and Richmond while scoring top ten finishes in each race. Not to mention he’s finished top five in eight of the 18 races this season. He was the runner-up in the first Kansas race and while he’s in a comfortable spot to move on to the next round, he’s still looking to score his first win of the season. Update: Majeski qualified on the front row next to JHN and is a solid pivot off the chalky JHN. Majeski posted the second-fastest single lap speed with the third-fastest ten-lap average.
Christian Eckes ($9,500) The cut line is pretty tight and Eckes is below it so he needs a very solid showing or a disastrous night from Carson Hocevar and Matt Crafton. Eckes’ price tag is elevated to $9,500. He’s finished fifth, fourth, sixth, and second in his last four races here with some dominator points as well. In the intermediate track portion of the schedule in the Spring he finished fifth (Texas), second (Texas), and fourth (Charlotte). I don’t know if I would play him with either Crafton or Hocevar, but the starting order could change that so be on the lookout for updates following qualifying.
Carson Hocevar ($9,300) If Hocevar is healthy then I think he’s in store to be a great GPP play. He fought through the foot/leg injury over the summer and maybe four weeks off did him some good. Now he’s in a position where he’s just outside the Round of Eight and needs a strong run. We saw him finish runner-up at Darlington earlier this Spring, he finished fourth at Texas, 16th at Charlotte (where he led 57 laps), and he had a run of three straight top five finishes heading into the playoffs. With plenty to race for on Friday, Hocevar should pay off his price tag if he stays clean. Keep in mind, there is some bad blood between him and Ryan Preece, so if those two get close on Friday, things could get interesting.
Parker Kligerman ($8,800) Kligerman is about two months removed from his dramatic win at Mid-Ohio. Henderson Motorsports has only one full-time employee so the win for that team meant everything. Kligerman should probably be over $9,000 for this race, but we’ll take the slight discount. He’s run eight races on a variety of tracks but he’s finished seventh or better in five of them. We haven’t seen him run too many intermediate tracks the last few years aside from Darlington and maybe Nashville. But if he goes out and qualifies in the teens (which is possible) then I like the upside he possesses with the PD and a strong finish. Update: Qualified outside the top 20. Easy play here if he stays clean.
Stewart Friesen ($8,600) Friesen’s price tag is a big question mark. But he’s a relatively safe play. If you take away the first race of the year at Daytona, Friesen has finished top 15 in all but one race (Sonoma, where he was in a wreck). He has four top fives in his last six races, but keep in mind the Truck Series is coming off a lengthy layoff. But he did win Texas earlier this year, was third at Vegas, and top ten at Charlotte. He’s probably safe to move on to the next round, but we can’t just assume anything and I believe he still has a top five in him. Update: Starting outside the top ten with potential for a top five. I really like the play in GPP's.
Matt Crafton ($8,400) As the standings sit right now, Crafton is the last driver qualifying for the Round of Eight. My opinion on Crafton hasn’t really changed. He’s safe for a top ten considering he’s finished seventh and ninth in the first two playoff races at IRP and Richmond. On intermediates this year he finished seventh at Vegas, fifth at Darlington (his lone top five this year), ninth at Kansas, and ninth at Texas. Crafton has just one win in the last five years and he’s only led six laps in 2022. There isn’t a very high ceiling but if he offers PD we can plug him in for Cash games. Keep an eye on Derek Kraus ($8,200) as a potential pivot in this range. In five races at Kansas, he’s finished in the top ten four times.
Tyler Ankrum ($8,000) Ankrum qualified P19 but had the 11th-fastest single lap in practice and was decent in the longer runs. He's had decent showings on the intermediate tracks this year, so given the starting spot I'm comfortable playing him and his teammate, Chase Purdy.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,700) This is just a touch too cheap for Matty D. He didn’t have a great season, but he did thrive on the intermediate tracks that we can draw comparisons to. He finished 11th at Darlington, seventh at the first Kansas race, tenth at Texas, sixth at Vegas, and 17th at Charlotte. The Charlotte result isn’t great but we’ve seen enough to know that this is the type of track he can do well on and he’s priced down because he’s not in the playoff picture. Update: Would've preferred a little more PD, but starting P14 isn't awful. He can return value with a top ten.
Colby Howard ($7,200) Howard might fly under the radar if people are paying up for Tanner Gray or Kaz Grala and if those guys get a crappy starting spot then I’ll throw them in the Playbook. But I don’t hate Howard after he started and finished 11th at Kansas earlier in the year. He was also top 15 at Darlington and Charlotte and could thrive on this track. I also want to give some attention to Bret Holmes ($7,000). Holmes has run a small part-time schedule in 2022. But he’s started outside the top 30 in each of his last four races and he has three top 15 finishes at Vegas, Texas, and Richmond. This $7K range below DiBenedetto is a fluid situation depending on how everyone performs in practice and qualifying. Update: I'm souring on Howard a bit. Didn't show great speed in practice and qualified inside the top 20. He'll need a little help to be optimal. Tanner Gray may have qualified a bit high but that'll keep ownership down. Holmes was not great in practice, but qualified outside the top 25. Kaz Grala qualified P30 and will be chalky. He's an easy play in Cash games and worthy of GPP exposure, but be aware of the chalk.
Chase Purdy ($6,900) Is Chase Purdy’s the “nice” play of the week? Sure, but this is also a big misprice on DK’s part. For starters, he’s having a career year. He has three top 15 finishes on intermediate tracks this year (Vegas, Kansas, and Charlotte) and he has four top 15 finishes in his last five races entering this weekend. In 17 races this year he’s posted less than 20 points on DraftKings just twice, and he’s put up at least 30 points a dozen times. 30 points wouldn’t be 5X value at this price tag, but I still think he presents a solid floor in this range and he’s a worthy value play for Friday’s action. Update: Very much in play. Starting outside top 20.
Bayley Currey ($6,700) Bayley Currey running in the Truck Series race is very interesting to me. I don’t love the price tag, but I still think he’s playable. The problem is that the adjustment from the stock car to a truck does take some time to adjust so hopefully he makes the most of it. The good news is that he’s in a Niece Motorsports ride so the equipment should be fine. At best, Currey’s a top 20-25 driver in the Xfinity Series on a weaker team. But on 1.5-mile tracks in 2022 he was top 20 at Vegas, Charlotte, and last week at Darlington. Currey hasn’t run in the Truck Series in 2022, but last year he finished 12th at Kansas and was top 20 at Charlotte. Update: Starting P16. Deep-field GPP only play.
Timmy Hill ($6,400) It feels like Timmy Hill is in play every single week. He typically qualifies outside the top 25, oftentimes outside the top 30 and he just runs a clean race to move up. On comparable tracks to Kansas he finished top 20 at Vegas, Darlington, Texas, and he finished 21st at Charlotte. He just tends to finish races, which is all you need sometimes. So while he may not be in the equipment of Jack Wood, he’s at least a consistent finisher, unlike Wood. Update: Timmy may have over qualified with P25. I still think he's okay, but would've preferred more PD. I don't know if I'd go here in Cash games.
Hailie Deegan ($6,300) If we’re looking solely at track history, Kansas is one of Deegan’s better tracks and I think it’s because of the lack of cautions we tend to see here. It allows her to run her race if she can stay clean. In three races here she’s finished 17th, 13th, and 16th. There’s certainly still plenty of variance with Deegan so I wouldn’t commit too much exposure to her. But if she qualifies outside the top 20 then she’s in play for GPP’s. She’d have to qualify outside the top 25 for me to consider her in Cash games. Update: Qualified inside the top 20. Not great, chief. If doing three lineups you can plug her into one to get different, but given how high she's starting she would need a top 15 to be a solid play.
Jesse Little ($6,100) If you need an additional value play for Friday's race, I think Little is in play. He starts outside the top 30 and has shown he can finish inside the top 20 on a part-time schedule this season. And he's done it in the less-than-reliable equipment of Young's Motorsports so if you need to expand your driver pool in this value range then you can mix in some shares of Little.
Tyler Hill ($4,900) Look you may not even get 5X value here, but here’s what I like: his worst DFS performance this year was 17 points and he’s under $5K now. I do expect him to garner a little more ownership because I’m pretty sure he’ll qualify poorly and start in the back and from there it’s just an attrition play of watching him slowly work his way through the field into a top 25 spot in stage three. His sample size is very small but he started P33 at Kansas in the Spring and finished 21st. He started P30 and finished 25th at Texas as well. Last year he was top 20 at both Vegas and Texas. So if he’s starting outside the top 30 then I’ll be jumping on board as I’ve done so whenever he’s raced this year. Even if he’s only returning 3X-4X value, at this cheap price tag you’ll just take any production if it allows you to pay up for multiple dominators with win equity. Update: Qualified outside the top 30 as expected but had top 20 speed in practice. I doubt he runs top 20 for most of the race but he could luck into some place differential later on.
Core Drivers will be posted in the NASCAR DFS Discord Channel no later than 6:00pm ET.
Don't forget to check out the latest NASCAR DFS Podcast as Matt Selz and Dan Malin preview Sunday afternoon's NASCAR Cup Series race from Kansas!