The NASCAR Xfinity Series continues its march to the playoffs with its second-to-last regular season race of the season. Feels weird to think the Camping World Truck Series regular season ended almost two months ago, while the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs started last week at Darlington. And yet, Xfinity keeps pushing on. Kansas Raceway tends to produce some great racing and we saw Ty Gibbs score the win here a year ago. Kansas has plenty of grooves and passing is possible, but less likely on the longer green flag runs and we don’t typically see too many cautions here. However, this is the Xfinity Series and we’ve seen a ton of variance from these drivers recently. But let’s dive into the NASCAR DFS picks for today’s race.
By now you know Kansas is a 1.5-mile tri-oval. I won’t bore you with the track breakdown since you read about it in the Truck Series Playbook, you heard it on the podcast, and Selz will discuss it in the Playbook I’m sure. Green flag is set for around 3:15pm ET and we have 200 laps broken into 45-45-110 lap segments. The fuel range is about 60 laps so strategy in the first couple stages will dictate track position in stage three for green flag pit stops. But of course, if we get some nonsense and cautions come into play, that’ll shake everything up. Overall, I’m not too enthused about the Xfinity Series for the remainder of the year. Seems like it’s a weekly donation to DraftKings given the chaos these drivers breed. But I’ll still play about four-to-eight lineups and hope to see you all in the green!
Noah Gragson ($11,000; Starting P5) He’s just having such a good year. He’s finished fourth or better in over half the races this year and he has four wins on the year including last week at Darlington. He’s led at least 20 laps in half the races this year and he was second in single-and-ten-lap speed during practice. He may not dominate or lead many laps early, but he is in play to still win and collect dominator points in the second and third stages.
Justin Allgaier ($10,800; Starting P9) Allgaier is a great secondary dominator that could collect his points in stages two or three and pairs really well with Gragson or Gibbs. Allgaier has cooled off a bit in terms of outright dominating races, but he does have three top five finishes in his last five races. It might be worth mentioning that he hasn’t led a single lap here in his last seven races. But there’s still some win equity and he’s -110 for a top five.
Ty Gibbs ($10,600; Starting P2) Could we be looking at a Toyota sweep at Kansas? John Hunter Nemechek won Friday night in the Truck Series, JGR has won plenty of times at this track in the Xfinity Series, and the Toyotas are favorites to win Sunday’s Cup Series race. As of Saturday morning, Gibbs is a +250 favorite to win Saturday’s race and he’s -350 for a top five. He starts on the front row and he won his first race at this track a year ago. His resume on these intermediates has been solid in regard to finishes this season. However, we haven’t seen him really dominate or lead as many laps as Gragson has. In early April he led over 100 laps at Richmond and Martinsville. That’s helpful because those tracks have a ton of laps. However, over the last five months he’s led over 20 laps just four times. Now he did look very strong at Michigan about a month ago so if he has that kind of performance then he’ll be optimal. I’m operating as if he’ll pass Brandon Jones by lap 15 and win stage one. From there, he should maintain track position and contend for the win.
Josh Berry ($10,100; Starting P10) Berry is back on a 1.5-mile tri-oval which has been right in his wheelhouse this season. He finished fourth at Vegas, seventh at Texas where he led 46 laps, he won Charlotte and led 89 laps, and he was top ten recently at Michigan and Darlington-2. The PD also helps his case a bit and is a strong dominator to pair with Gibbs or either of Berry’s teammates in Allgaier or Gragson. I’m not going to write up Sam Mayer in full because he’s burned me the last few weeks. But earlier in the year, Mayer was looking great on the 1.5-mile tri-ovals with back-to-back third place finishes at Charlotte and Texas. He even led 25 laps at Vegas. But I think he probably finishes around where he starts so I mostly consider him a pivot.
Ross Chastain ($9,900; Starting P15) I’m souring on Chastain a bit. His results in the Cup and Xfinity Series have not been great lately. After running with DGM for three races he was in the 48-car for Big Machine last week and didn’t have a good showing. The car had top ten speed in practice and we did see Tyler Reddick drive this car to a win at Texas earlier this year. But Kansas and Texas do operate a little differently because there are more grooves at Kansas. The PD makes him an okay play especially if he can get a top five finish. But if he comes in with heavy ownership it might be worth being underweight. He’s probably fine for Cash games though.
Brandon Jones ($9,500; Starting P1) Jones has some appeal at Kansas consider he scored back-to-back wins here in 2019 and 2020. He scored both wins after starting on the front row, but only led ten laps in each win. Starting on the pole means he’ll control the start and potentially lead early laps. I would have loved him as more of a GPP play if anybody else other than Ty Gibbs was starting next to him. If I had to guess I’d say Jones leads the first few laps before either Gibbs or Gragson catch him for the lead, but he can still be optimal with a top five and maybe 10-15 dominator points, but he would really need to lead a majority of stage one for that to happen. This is basically the exact same spot Jones was in a week ago at Darlington.
Sammy Smith ($8,900; Starting P11) Smith is starting just outside the top ten and he possesses the ability to finish well although we just haven’t quite seen that this year. The price tag is elevated from where we’ve seen him priced previously and I think that could keep ownership off him because he’s $500 more than what he was at Michigan where he scored 23 fastest laps. Smith was top five in single-and-ten-lap averages in practice and it’s JGR equipment.
Sheldon Creed ($8,600; Starting P3) Creed is starting third for this weekend's race and he's been flirting with a win to lock himself into the playoffs. It wasn't a great start to the year especially when he saw his teammate, Austin Hill, score two wins. But Creed finished second last week and led 47 laps. He's been getting closer to that first win. He's Pockrass' win today which doesn't mean too much but Bob does tend to go with drivers trending the right way. Not a great Cash play but a pretty good GPP target in the mid-range who has been showing more speed and consistent finishes.
Landon Cassill ($8,400; Starting P14) I’m struggling with a read on Cassill. He has nine top ten finishes this year, but he only has two over the last two months. Now he’s also finished 11th twice in that span but it seemed like earlier in the year he flashed more upside than what we’ve seen from him lately. His car was actually pretty strong in the ten-lap averages and a top ten is viable in Cash and maybe GPP’s. I will always have my concerns about the Kaulig cars because the speed just hasn’t been there most weeks, but from this starting spot he could come into play.
Riley Herbst ($8,200; Starting P12) Herbst finished 13th here a year ago and also has a top ten on his resume with Joe Gibbs Racing. He’s finished in the top ten in over half the races this season including at Darlington, Texas, Nashville, and Michigan. He didn’t finish last week’s race which can happen with him but I’m not banking on it happening two weeks in a row. He posted a top ten single lap in practice and does potentially have top five upside if things play out in his favor. Not a guy to be super heavy on, but one worth a little exposure at least. Ryan Sieg, who is a little cheaper and starting P13 is someone to consider as a pivot with arguably similar upside to Herbst.
Anthony Alfredo ($7,600; Starting P22) I feel bad for venting my frustrations on this guy last week. But his wreck during a caution took my three builds out of contention and I was just pissed off the rest of the afternoon. But I still maintain that I’m lightly playing this series for the remainder of the year because nonsense like what happened last week are slowly becoming the norm. But I digress. Fast Pasta rolls off P22. Decent starting spot for a guy with top 15, maybe top ten upside. Wasn’t particularly fast in practice though and if the stigma from a week ago keeps you off him, I won’t blame you.
Derek Griffith ($7,400; Starting P35) Griffith is probably fine for Cash games but I might stay away in GPP’s. I just don’t think he has a very high ceiling and I think a lot of people will see the PD and the Sam Hunt equipment and think he can pilot this ride to a top 15. Could it happen? Sure, but he wasn’t electric in practice. He’s raced in this car finishing 26th at Richmond, 21st at Martinsville, and 18th at New Hampshire. Those were shorter, flat tracks. Kansas doesn’t fit that mold so I think he does move up, but not necessarily enough to break the slate in a GPP. If I’m trying to find ways to create leverage, it’s to avoid this chalk and we’ve seen plenty of BS in the Xfinity Series to know that chalk is never a good thing.
Brett Moffitt ($7,100; Starting P16) Moffitt might be a trap but he was fast in practice and went out and qualified P16. This is a downgrade from the equipment he ran earlier in the season but if he can get the most out of it then maybe he can steal a top ten. It’s more likely that he goes backward, but he was running pretty well in the Truck Series race before he blew up. This is strictly a GPP play that shouldn’t garner too much ownership given the price tag, starting spot, and equipment.
Rajah Caruth ($6,800; Starting P27) When we talk about how the Xfinity Series comes with variance and chaos, Caruth fits that bill but it’s only because he’s so young and doesn’t have the experience that the rest of the folks in this series have. He’s run three races this year and finished 38th twice. He’s still only 20 years old and has plenty of time to get better. The Alpha Prime equipment really isn’t awful, but the drivers they’ve brought in this year have been questionable at times. Caruth flashed speed in practice but it’s just a question of getting him across the finish line on the final lap. He can certainly do it but I would make out GPP exposure at probably 15%.
Josh Williams ($6,700; Starting P29) He should’ve been better last week but he wasn’t. I was embarrassed by the poor showing by DGM and I’m dumb enough to go back to the well for Kansas. Williams can get this car to a top 20 finish. In five races here he’s finished 26th, 6th, 20th, 21st, and 24th. Not a ton of upside from this starting spot, but he’s playable for some PD.
Ryan Vargas ($5,700; Starting P38) In my best Chris Collinsworth voice, “Now here’s a guy who could go out there and totally blow up our lineups.” Vargas went out and wrecked in qualifying so he starts dead bleeping last. The spin was his fault. But momentum was a bit shaky because Kris Wright went out before him and spun, so Vargas had to be held. Then Vargas said “hold my beer” and junked the car. We don’t know what speed they’ll have but he can’t get you negative points. That’s basically the only reason I’m putting him in here. if he somehow finishes 30th he’s getting 20 points and dare I say if he finishes 25th he’s getting 30 points. Again, we don’t know how much speed he’ll have so play at your own risk.
David Starr ($5,000; Starting P31) Starr is probably as low as I’ll go for Saturday’s race. He doesn’t have a high ceiling, but he can do enough to not crush your lineup. He’s finished 25th or better in almost half the races he’s appeared in this year. Another top 25 finish gets him at least 23 points, which I would take. CJ McLaughlin can be considered for just $200 more and he’s in the 38-car for RSS. Playing him is mostly a play on the equipment, but he’s another play that you hope just moves up and finishes in the top 25.
I’m going to attempt to have Example Lineups posted no later than 2:00pm ET. As much as we hate the Xfinity Series for DFS, given the window to process Practice and Qualifying, I’ll throw some Example Lineups together in the NASCAR DFS Discord Channel.
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!