DFS: Charlotte (Fall)
Despite his expense of $10,900, it is difficult not to take Martin Truex Jr. as one’s anchor this week. He has won four of the last six races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, including the last two at Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway. The last time the series was at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he finished third and also has wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. Yes, he is going to require players to make some tough decisions about dark horse sleepers, but it’s going to be hard to win without him.
To offset Truex, one is going to have look deep down the list, not once but at least twice. Trevor Bayne is worthy of consideration because of how he started the season. That was with a four-race streak of top-15s on this track type culminating in a 10th at Kansas. He narrowly missed making it five in a row at Charlotte with a 16th and is worth the $7,000 price tag.
Daniel Suarez is also well below the midline with a value of $7,500. He has been more consistent, but lacks the same number of top-15s as Bayne. Still with a worst of 21st all the way back at Atlanta Motor Speedway this spring and an average of 15.4 on this track type, he has a lot of potential. He finished 11th at Charlotte in the Coke 600 and will easily outperform his salary cap.
It is easy to think of both principal rookies as place and hold drivers given their current strength. Erik Jones lands at $7,900 this week, which is below the midline—but not by enough to free up many options at the bottom of the order. Still, he has been dominating the top 10 in recent weeks and even though he missed at Dover International Speedway, he is poised to knock off some more strong runs.
The next decisions get to be a little tricky. One can either look for another bargain basement driver to see how that impacts the salary cap or one can try and find a marquee driver and evaluate what is left over.
It will be difficult to take another greater than $10,000 driver and find a suitable dark horse, so Denny Hamlin comes to the rescue with a price of $9,200 and three consecutive top-fives in his last three attempts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Hamlin has not been quite as strong in recent weeks as one would like, but he has a tendency to rise to the occasion when least expected.
That leaves $7,500 in the kitty and two drivers who easily fit into the last slot on the roster. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Newman should be considered as race day decisions. Stenhouse is still in playoff contention, but he is looking forward to next week at Talladega. Newman just got knocked out of the championship hunt and has something to prove. The best course of action is to wait for final practice and make the decision based on 10-lap averages.