Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Driver Preview
Two of the biggest pillars of driver selection in daily fantasy NASCAR are track history and current form. Knowing where drivers sit on both of those spectrums is going to make our lineups look a whole lot nicer at the end of the race.
By looking at which drivers have excelled at this week's track in the past and those who are currently racing well, we can know which drivers are in line to be good plays for the slate. That's what we're going to try to do today, dividing drivers into those two buckets with noteworthy track history or noteworthy current form.
Clearly, this isn't to say that all of these drivers will be great plays in this race. A lot of that will be dictated by where they start and the scoring history at that track. To read more about what strategies we need to deploy based on starting position, check out this week's track preview.
Later in the week, once qualifying is in the books, we'll go through the top plays for the race based on all of these factors. But which drivers should we be keying on for the time being? Let's check it out. Here are drivers we should monitor for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire.
Kyle Busch (FanDuel Price: $12,500), Martin Truex Jr. ($12,700), and Kevin Harvick ($12,300): Let's just get this out of the way at the top: which of The Big Three should sit atop our lists for this week?
All of these guys have been lap leaders recently in New Hampshire, but Kyle Busch has the wins to show for it. He has won here three total times (including two of the past six), and he has been second an additional three times. Busch was second in Phoenix and won Richmond, the two tracks most similar to New Hampshire, meaning he should likely be the top dog prior to the weekend.
Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick have their own appeals, though. Truex has somehow led at least 100 laps in each of the past four races at New Hampshire. Harvick is a two-time winner in New Hampshire and always mops up at Phoenix, including a win there earlier this year. This gives us the ability to ride with any of them if they were to qualify in the optimal starting spots.
Denny Hamlin ($11,500): Denny Hamlin is yet to notch a victory this year, but he has been close a couple of times. He led 33 laps en route to a 4th-place finish in Phoenix, and he finished 3rd in Richmond. Those two races were a continuation of a stout record at flat tracks for Hamlin.
Hamlin won the summer race in New Hampshire last year, his third career victory at the track. He was also the runner-up in the 2015 fall race, and he has had an average running position of 11th or better in 5 straight New Hampshire races.
The issue with Hamlin is that he hasn't shown the same ability as The Big Three to dominate and take over races. He has led more than 33 laps just once this year, and he hasn't led 100 laps in a race at New Hampshire since 2012. If Hamlin's starting near one of Busch, Truex, or Harvick (either at the front or the back), we should be looking for the salary to get up to them, instead. But if Hamlin's on an island away from the others, his appeal can be fairly high.
Matt Kenseth ($8,600): Given the poor equipment that Matt Kenseth is in now, his history at a track should mean very little. But it seems like things are slowly improving for Roush Fenway Racing, and it may allow us to indulge and peep Kenseth's sterling record at New Hampshire.
Over the past 6 races at New Hampshire, Kenseth's average finish is 2.8. He has won two of those and was second in another. If he were still with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth would likely be priced around $11,000 instead of where he's currently at.
But, as always, current form trumps track history, especially when a driver moves to lesser equipment. This will be the first race at a track shorter than 1.5 miles for Kenseth, meaning that poor equipment should matter less. He also ran well at Kentucky last weekend, posting a season-best average running position of 18th.
To get a judge on what to expect from Kenseth's current equipment here, we can look at his teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,000). Stenhouse had a pair of top-15 finishes in New Hampshire last year, but he finished 23rd this year at both Phoenix and Richmond. Kenseth's carmate, Trevor Bayne, was 20th and 21st, respectively, in those 2 races.
Because equipment matters less here -- and because Kenseth knows the track so well -- he can at least be on our lists entering the weekend. But we'll need him to start outside the top 15 and show at least some speed in practice before making the leap.
Daniel Suarez ($9,000): You're going to notice a trend here. If a driver is currently or was previously with Joe Gibbs Racing, they have likely found success at New Hampshire. Even in a short sample, Daniel Suarez is no exception.
In Suarez's 2017 rookie season, he posted a pair of top-10 finishes in New Hampshire. He was 6th in the summer race and 8th in the fall, posting a 14th-place average running position in both. That's great for this price.
That success has carried over into 2018, as well. Suarez finished in the top 10 in both previous flat, shorter-track races with an 8th in Phoenix and a 10th in Richmond. As long as Suarez is decent in practice, he's a mid-range driver we can trust even if he starts as high as 11th.
Ty Dillon ($5,500): As mentioned in this week's track preview, we likely want to avoid punting at New Hampshire if at all possible. Passing is very difficult, and there aren't a ton of wrecks to prop the lower-priced options up. But if you do decide to hop down into the cheaper ranges, you could do a lot worse than Ty Dillon.
Dillon has run here only twice, but his first race last year was pretty impressive. He started 25th and worked his way forward for a 16th-place finish, posting an average running position of 19th. He's the only driver cheaper than $7,200 to have an average running position better than 23rd here over the past 2 seasons.
The current form isn't there for Dillon as he hasn't posted a top-20 finish outside of a restrictor-plate track since April. But that April 20th-place finish was in Richmond, which does help his cause. If Dillon starts around 30th, he can be in play as an extreme salary-saving option.
Clint Bowyer ($10,400): Clint Bowyer is a past winner in New Hampshire, but he hasn't done so since 2010. And with just 2 top-20 finishes in his past 6 races here, he would seem to be a bit out of place in a recommendations column. But Bowyer has earned that trust in 2018.
After being held out of victory lane since 2012, Bowyer has been there twice already this year. His six top-five finishes are tied for the most he has had since 2013, as well. You don't get those marks without excelling at a wide range of tracks, and Bowyer has done exactly that, including ones relevant to this weekend.
In Phoenix, Bowyer started back in 19th spot, but he worked his way forward for a 6th-place finish and had an average running position of 10th. His 8th-place finish in Richmond wasn't as impressive, but he had a great car there, too, leading 45 laps with an average running position of 5th. Bowyer's a candidate to lead some laps if he starts up front, and he has a strong enough car to gain place-differential points should he start further back.
Chase Elliott ($10,100): If you base current form on the most recent races, Chase Elliott isn't making the cut. He has finished 19th, 34th, and 13th in the past 3 races, respectively. But if you look at the most recent relevant races, then this guy needs to be on our radar.
Although Elliott didn't lead any laps in either Phoenix or Richmond, he was a contender in both. Elliott's average running positions were sixth and eighth, respectively, and he finished in the top three spots both times. Those are his two best finishes the entire season.
Elliott's record at New Hampshire is merely decent as he has finished 13th, 11th, and 11th the past 3 races here, respectively. But he did have a 5th-place average running position in one of those, and his worst average running position here in 4 races is 12th. Elliott's just 40/1 to win, according to Westgate, which is a bit long for his pricing tier, but Elliott's a darkhorse to make his first trip to the winner's circle.
Kurt Busch ($9,600): Kurt Busch's price is down to $9,600 partly because his recent record at New Hampshire is unflattering. He has just 3 top-10s and 1 top-5 in his past 15 races at the Magic Mile. His runs the past few weeks are noteworthy, though, and could lead to his being underpriced.
Busch has now led at least 20 laps in 3 of the past 5 races and 6 total times this year. One of those instances was back in Richmond, where Busch led 98 laps and had a 5th-place average running position before slipping to an 11th-place finish.
We've seen Busch lead laps recently, and he did so at a track that is similar to New Hampshire. That's enough to get us to buy in. We'll want to make sure he shows speed again in practice, but he could be a low-cost way to snag some laps led on Sunday.
Aric Almirola ($9,400): Aric Almirola is the teammate to Bowyer and Kurt Busch, and the three need to be treated similarly: overlook their past history at tracks and focus more on what they have done in 2018.
Almirola has just 2 top-10 finishes in his career at New Hampshire, a timeframe that spans 15 races. That could make you worry that he struggles on flatter surfaces, but Almirola has alleviated those concerns.
He started things off by posting a 7th-place finish in Phoenix after starting back in 22nd. Then Almirola had a 9th-place average running position in Richmond before finishing 17th. He seems less likely than Bowyer and Kurt Busch to lead laps, but he's a strong contender for place-differential points and a good finish if he starts 11th or lower.
William Byron ($7,800): This will be William Byron's first Cup series race at New Hampshire, but he has had success here in the past in other series. He finished third in last year's Xfinity Series race, and he won the 2016 Camping World Truck Series race, leading 161 of 175 laps. Those stout runs on flat tracks seem to have followed him to NASCAR's highest level.
Byron has posted a top-13 average running position at both of the shorter, flat tracks on this year's schedule, turning them into 12th-place finishes at each. Byron has just one top-10, meaning that those two races represent his second-best finishes of the year.
Byron's not a driver who we can trust if he starts in the top 10, but if he starts between 15th and 25th, he could be a candidate for place-differential points. Just make sure the speed he showed earlier in the year translates over to this weekend.