Daily Fantasy Preview for the Instacart 500k

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Dan Beaver
·8 min read
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After two races on unrestricted, intermediate speedways, clearer patterns are emerging.

Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Dixie Vodka 400 showcased fresh faces at the front of the pack and several of those drivers brought their momentum to the early stages of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. When the checkers waved last week, however, the top five was filled with superstars.

The winner Kyle Larson might still be considered a dark horse after sitting out most of the 2020 and fifth-place Ryan Blaney has had his share of problems early in the season, but they are racing for two of the top organizations and their success was not exactly surprising. The same is true of Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin who finished second through fourth respectively.

In the DraftKings game, the cream is also rising to the top. Four drivers earned top-10 points in the last two weeks. Keselowski, Larson, and Busch have shown themselves to be great values. William Byron also ranked among the top 10 at both Homestead and Vegas.

A decision will need to be made between Busch and Kez since both top the $10k mark, but Larson and Byron are affordable enough to anchor this week’s Instacart 500k roster.

Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Kyle Busch ($10,800)
The only reason to elevate Busch over Kevin Harvick ($11,900) this week in the DraftKings game relates to cap considerations. Both drivers have excellent records at Phoenix and long streaks of top-fives and -10s. Both struggled at times during the first four races. But Busch can be signed for more than $1,000 less than Harvick and that is going to create more opportunities in the cheaper Groups below. Nine of Busch’s last 11 Phoenix races ended in top-fives; his most recent of three career wins there came in 2019.

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,100)

Kyle Larson ($9,600)
Larson’s salary cap has not caught up to his potential. He is the eighth-most expensive driver in the field this week and below the $10k mark. In the past two races, he has earned the fourth-most points at Homestead and the most with his win at Las Vegas. He’s been impressive at Phoenix in the past couple of years with results of sixth or better in three races. Fantasy players can expect him to keep his momentum for another week.

William Byron ($8,300)
This is a different Byron than we’ve seen. In his fourth season with Hendrick Motorsports, he is showing the right level of aggression to keep him in the lead pack without tearing up his equipment. A few more tweaks and he is going to consistently contend for top-five finishes. Layer on top of that the organization’s record at Phoenix and Byron is one of the better values overall – much less in the less than $10k range. Last year he swept the top 10 on this track and had another eighth-place result at Martinsville.

Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,900)

Kurt Busch ($7,700)
Fantasy players always know exactly what to expect from the elder Busch. On short, flat tracks – as with nearly every course type – he is consistent and while he may not always score major points, he is not going to lose many either. His worst finish on this track type in the past two seasons was a pair of 18ths at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway in 2018. Offset by one top-five and a couple of sixth-place results, that gives him an average finish of 11.2. His cap ranks 16th in the field this week.

Chase Briscoe ($7,500)
The pickings are a little slim at this level this week, so if you are going to take a risk now is a good time to do so. Since this is a coin toss, concentrate on the strength of the team and the amount of money a low-cost alternative will free up. Stewart-Haas Racing has not set the track on fire so far in 2021, but there is a lot of potential. Better still, Briscoe has Clint Bowyer’s notes from the past couple of years and the new television analyst has been great on this flat 1-miler.

Group D: (Between $6,700 and $5,800)

Ryan Newman ($6,600)
Two weeks ago Newman earned a top-10 on an unrestricted speedway for the first time since 2019. His seventh-place result galvanized the team and while he did not sustain it last week in Vegas, he still carries positivity with him to a track type where he has been strong in recent years. In 2019 Newman scored four top-10s and a 12th on short, flat tracks. He was not quite as strong last year with a best of 12th at Martinsville, but if he can stay on the lead lap, he will earn another top-15 in the Instacart 500k.

Michael McDowell ($6,200)
We didn’t really expect that McDowell would be able to keep his top-10 streak alive for much longer, so a 17th in the Pennzoil 400 does not change our opinion of this playoff contender. Front Row Motorsports still has a lot of energy from his Daytona 500 win and sixth-place finish at Homestead. Short, flat tracks are drivers courses and anytime the series goes to one of them, the playing field is leveled. With an average of 24.19 points per thousand dollars spent in the first four races, McDowell deserves one more start.

Group E: (Less than or equal to $5,600)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($5,500)
Stenhouse’s average points’ per thousand of 22.41 in the first four races is actually the second-most in the game this week behind Group D’s McDowell. If you need to free up salary cap to take a second A or B driver, that is good enough to warrant the risk. He hasn’t garnered a lot of press, but with a 13th and 11th on unrestricted ovals this year, Stenhouse has been much better than anticipated.

The top-10 points’ earners from last fall were: Chase Elliott (110.75), Joey Logano (94.75), Brad Keselowski (70.5), Jimmie Johnson (67), Denny Hamlin (59.5), William Byron (51), Matt DiBenedetto (44.75), Kevin Harvick (42.5), Ryan Blaney (41.25), and Martin Truex Jr. (37.5).

Greatest Place-differential Points: William Byron (16), Chris Buescher (11), Bubba Wallace (8), and Michael McDowell (6).

Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Betting
Odds

Group

Brad Keselowski

8.00

205.30

51.33

$10,400

19.74

600

A

Martin Truex Jr.

12.25

179.00

44.75

$10,100

17.72

1100

A

Chase Elliott

14.75

141.60

35.40

$11,500

12.31

550

A

Joey Logano

15.50

135.85

33.96

$11,100

12.24

800

A

Kevin Harvick

17.50

129.95

32.49

$11,900

10.92

650

A

Kyle Busch

18.50

114.95

28.74

$10,800

10.64

800

A

Denny Hamlin

8.75

212.85

53.21

$9,900

21.50

650

B

Kyle Larson

13.00

191.15

47.79

$9,600

19.91

900

B

William Byron

18.50

155.45

38.86

$8,300

18.73

1800

B

Christopher Bell

15.25

146.75

36.69

$8,100

18.12

3300

B

Ryan Blaney

20.75

101.90

25.48

$9,300

10.96

1400

B

Alex Bowman

22.50

75.90

18.98

$8,700

8.72

3000

B

Matt DiBenedetto

22.50

65.05

16.26

$8,500

7.65

5000

B

Aric Almirola

32.00

2.00

0.50

$9,000

0.22

5000

B

Kurt Busch

16.00

134.50

33.63

$7,700

17.47

2800

C

Erik Jones

18.00

109.50

27.38

$7,000

15.64

12500

C

Ross Chastain

18.25

97.60

24.40

$6,900

14.14

20000

C

Austin Dillon

18.75

94.45

23.61

$7,400

12.76

8000

C

Chase Briscoe

19.50

94.60

23.65

$7,500

12.61

12500

C

Tyler Reddick

22.25

96.25

24.06

$7,900

12.18

6600

C

Bubba Wallace

25.50

51.20

12.80

$7,200

7.11

10000

C

Michael McDowell

14.00

150.00

37.50

$6,200

24.19

15000

D

Chris Buescher

14.25

133.80

33.45

$6,400

20.91

15000

D

Cole Custer

21.00

98.95

24.74

$6,700

14.77

8000

D

Anthony Alfredo

22.25

84.25

21.06

$5,800

14.53

50000

D

Daniel Suarez

21.25

79.75

19.94

$5,900

13.52

25000

D

Ryan Newman

19.75

82.35

20.59

$6,600

12.48

10000

D

Corey LaJoie

30.50

25.60

6.40

$6,000

4.27

100000

D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.75

123.25

30.81

$5,500

22.41

15000

E

Ryan Preece

17.00

119.95

29.99

$5,600

21.42

35000

E

Cody Ware

27.00

60.00

15.00

$4,600

13.04

150000

E

BJ McLeod

22.33

57.00

19.00

$4,500

12.67

150000

E

Josh Bilicki

27.00

40.00

10.00

$4,700

8.51

150000

E

James Davison

24.00

39.00

19.50

$5,400

7.22

150000

E

Justin Haley

26.67

33.00

11.00

$5,000

6.60

75000

E

Timmy Hill

30.67

29.00

9.67

$4,800

6.04

150000

E

Quin Houff

29.00

27.00

6.75

$4,900

5.51

150000

E

JJ Yeley

$5,200

-

150000

E

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