NASCAR is in the hometown of newly signed Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper this weekend — yes I am a big fan of that team as followers on Twitter know all too well — and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will start from the pole position for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Does he merit a spot in your lineup? We’ve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration as you make roster decisions.
RJ Kraft’s Fantasy Live lineup for race-day at Las Vegas:
1. Austin Dillon
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Joey Logano
4. Erik Jones
5. Daniel Hemric
Garage: Kevin Harvick
Once again, I’ve ripped up most of my original lineup from the start of the week after seeing a taste of the new rules package on display. I’m keeping two Penske cars given how well they have run at Las Vegas in the past. Keselowski has three Las Vegas wins since 2014 and had the third-best 10-lap averages in final practice. Yes, he’s starting 19th, but I think we’ll see some movers from the middle on Sunday. Logano has been a top-10 machine at Las Vegas, will line up 10th on Sunday and has 27 stage points in the three previous Vegas races.
The Richard Childress Racing camp has looked stout this weekend with Dillon and Hemric topping both practice sessions and both atop the 10-lap board in final practice. I will acknowledge that it’s risky relying on both in your lineup, but the RCR group has found something early on with this package. The strongest reason to play them is the lack of ownership across leagues as of Saturday at 8:50 p.m. ET; Dillon was owned by 12 percent of players and Hemric by 5 percent. A real chance to gain points others might not if you believe they are for real.
The decision to play both RCR cars leads me to put an experienced hand in the garage, so I am tapping Harvick. He is on the pole, and Harvick won the 2018 All-Star Race where this package outline was first used. I preferred to save Harvick heading into the weekend, but the pole position swayed me. Truex seems a little off, and I’d like to save Kyle Busch for a host of upcoming tracks — ISM Raceway (Phoenix), Fontana, Martinsville, Bristol and Richmond. The uses with him are going to stack up real fast, so I will be more conservative with him early on.
The last spot in my lineup was a toss up between Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones. Blaney has the better Vegas history and starting spot but Jones had the better 10-lap average by quite a bit in final practice — sixth vs. 24th. I’ve also yet to use Jones this season — same with Blaney — and I want the last spot I have to be a driver I’ve yet to use. Giving the nod to Jones for now.
For the stage winners, I’m going Harvick in Stage 1, Logano in Stage 2 with Kyle Busch winning the race as a hedge for not having him in my lineup.
Each week in this space, we’ll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.
1. The average starting position for the last three Las Vegas March winners is 2.67. O/U starting position of 4.5 for this year’s winner? I like the under here and it’s largely because the top four consists of Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon. Harvick and Busch both have wins at Las Vegas and Dillon had shown speed all weekend long. Hamlin has yet to win at Las Vegas, but I like having Harvick and Busch in the top four of this prop.
2. After showing speed at Atlanta, will rookie Daniel Hemric finish in the top 15? I am a resounding yes for this one. He and Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon have been fast all weekend as RCR has finished 1-2 in both practices. Hemric also topped the 10-lap board in final practice and qualified fifth. He enjoyed a really good run at Atlanta before a cut tire ruined his finish. I’m in on Hemric maintaining a top-15 spot throughout the race and finishing in the top 15.