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Seventeen drivers are locked into the All-Star Race with recent wins while the remainder of the field will be set through a consolation race. The good news is that with a small field by NASCAR standards, only seven drivers are priced above the $8,333 average needed to fill the six-man roster.
The bad news is that this race is a lot like an aero-restricted superspeedway event in that chaos has the potential to reign supreme. While the cars do not race in the massive drafting packs often seen on plate tracks, there is inevitably a late-race caution that bunches the field.
Cautions breed cautions – especially when there is $1 million on the line. We’ve seen teammates put one another in the wall and brothers wreck brothers in this race with no points’ consequences. Be prepared to set several lineups with different marquee drivers heading them and concentrate on lower cost-entry games so you can spread the wealth around.
Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)
Kyle Larson ($10,200)
This week’s choice for the top driver at this level is remarkably simple. That’s because Larson is the only racer DraftKings deemed worthy of a cap greater than $10k. It’s hard to argue with them. Larson has been practically perfect on 1.5-mile tracks, he’s won the last two races of the season, and he took the checkered flag the last time the All-Star race was on a "cookie-cutter" track. Equally important, there are so many moderately priced options below $8k that there is no reason not to select him.
Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,000)
Chase Elliott ($8,500)
We’re not sure why the cap manager has Elliott priced so low, but we’re not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth. Elliott got off to a slow start on the 1.5-milers this year, but he has come on strong in recent races with a fifth in the Kansas Speedway race and a runner-up finish to teammate Larson in the Coke 600. Elliott finished second to Larson in the last two races and will do whatever it takes to get the top spot this week.
William Byron ($8,000)
Byron’s cap is also a bit of a mystery, but in part because he is $1,300 cheaper than Alex Bowman. The two drivers should be ranked much closer to one another, and with a 1.5-mile track win under his belt in 2021, we believe Byron should be valued higher. There is a strong likelihood all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers will battle for a top-five unless an accident slows them. Selecting the cheapest driver in that organization opens up a lot of options.
Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,500)
Joey Logano ($7,500)
Logano has not been flashy this year and he lacks consistency, but he manages to find the lead pack at the end of the race often enough to earn the fourth-most points in the DraftKings game since the beginning of the season. While he has not scored a top-five on the 1.5-milers this year and has only one top-10, the All-Star race behaves by its own set of rules. Aggression will play a critical role this week and Logano is not afraid of using his bumper.
Austin Cindric ($6,500)
Cindric will need to race his way into the big show through the Open, so if you place him on your roster, be prepared to make a last minute adjustment. He is dominating races in the Xfinity Series and wants to take his part-time Cup opportunity to show he can be competitive with the big boys. There is no time better than in a race with points’ pressure off everyone’s shoulders because it will allow him to push and shove to a degree otherwise discouraged.
Group D: (Less than or equal to $6,500)
Cole Custer ($5,900)
This is going to be like trying to feed a pit bull bacon without getting your fingers bit. Dangle a million dollars in front of a driver like Custer and tell him he only needs to beat 19 others and watch what happens. Custer has his invitation to the big show already and it came with a victory at Kentucky Speedway last year. His salary cap opens a lot of opportunities by increasing the average cost-per-driver by about $500.
Bubba Wallace ($6,100)
Wallace also knows how and when to be aggressive. After winning Stage 2 of the 2019 Open, he banged his way into the top five. Like Cindric, he has something to prove and there is no time like the present. His recent 1.5-mile efforts have not been as great as we would like, but he does have a top-10 from last year to recommend him and the pickings at a little slim at this level.