Daily Fantasy iRacing Helper: Toyota Owners 150 NASCAR iRacing Invitational at Richmond
Daily fantasy NASCAR is back, baby.
Well, sort of.
With the Cup Series on hold due to COVID-19, we've been deprived of our fix since before the Atlanta race, begging to lose more money on a late-race (or early-race... or mid-race) wreck from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Such treasured pastimes have been ripped from our arms with nothing to fill the void.
Until now, that is.
For this weekend's iRacing Invitational at Richmond, FanDuel is offering DFS for the 26-driver field. It may not be the real thing, but we'll take whatever we can get at this point.
New Scoring Rules
With the modified reality comes a modified scoring format, as well. Because there's basically no gap between qualifying and the race, it'd be tough to make decisions around which drivers could provide us with place-differential points. Thankfully, FanDuel has taken that into account and removed it from the scoring system for the iRacing contests.
Instead, we'll now have fastest laps added into the equation along with increased point allocations for laps led.
Just as with the normal NASCAR product, the finishing points descend by one for each spot from third on down. Finishing points will make up the bulk of the scoring for most drivers. But the bonus points matter a lot.
With 150 laps scheduled for Richmond, there are 60 points available for fastest laps and 37.5 for laps led. In order to get high-scoring lineups, we're going to need to find drivers capable of racking those up. It won't be all that easy with no qualifying data to lean on, but it's certainly not impossible.
The other key difference between the regular NASCAR product and this one is that we have to pick six drivers instead of five, making the salary structure different with the average salary of each slot being $8,333. William Byron ($12,500) is -- rightfully so -- the most expensive driver in the field, but we'll have to keep the salary structures in mind when hunting for optimal options.
Finally, it's worth noting that some of the drivers in the player pool aren't entered in the race as NASCAR trimmed the field in order to try to cut down on the number of cautions. The drivers to avoid as a result are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Landon Cassill, Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suarez. They'll get you a goose egg, so you'll probs wanna look elsewhere.
With all of this in mind, which drivers stand out for Sunday's debut offering? Let's dive in.
Sometimes, the most expensive driver qualifies as such for a reason. That's the case with Byron.
As mentioned in the scoring section, we desperately need to find drivers capable of leading laps. The pool of drivers who have done so thus far is pretty small because Byron has been absolutely piggish in his time at the front.
Top 5 in NASCAR iRacing laps led through 3 races:
William Byron: 224
Chris Buescher: 30
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 28
Garrett Smithley: 24
Timmy Hill: 22
— PJ Walsh (@PJWalsh24) April 13, 2020
Byron has led at least 80 laps in back-to-back races, including his romp at Bristol in which he led 116 of 150 laps. He good.
Byron is the favorite to win at +225 at DraftKings Sportsbook, and he's -177 to finish in the top three. He's a clear cornerstone despite the lofty salary.
The next three drivers in salary -- Timmy Hill ($12,000), Garrett Smithley ($11,500), and Ryan Preece ($11,100) -- are all viable plays. You can truly go whichever way you feel.
But that's a no-fun copout, so let's do some rankings here. Hill's finishes in the three sanctioned races -- third, first, and third -- put him at the top of the list in this second tier. He has been consistent across track types, which bodes well as they move to an entirely new venue once again.
Preece has been sneakily good in this span, so we'll put him second in this tier. A big plus with Preece is that he has the third-best average starting spot among drivers in the field, which is key if we're trying to pin down who will lead laps and clock fastest laps. He's also 10/1 on DraftKings, a hair shorter than Smithley (12/1).
Whether you're comparing betting odds to salaries or looking at the recent results, it's clear that John Hunter Nemechek ($9,000) and Parker Kligerman ($8,400) are standout options.
Nemechek is +650 on DraftKings, the third-shortest odds in the field despite the mid-range salary. That's likely inflated by a runner-up finish in Bristol, but he also finished eighth after starting third in Texas. Nemechek's a threat to lead laps due to the impressive qualifying numbers.
Interestingly enough, his qualifying hasn't been as good as Kligerman's, though. Kligerman's average starting spot of 7.67 is second best in the field behind Byron, and Kligerman has started 11th or higher each race. His odds are 14/1, and that mark seems earned based on how he has performed. Nemechek and Kligerman are the top targets in this range.
However, we do need some options on the lower end of the mid range for our Byron and Hill lineups because they're so expensive. If you lock in both those drivers, your average remaining salary is $6,375, which means we'll have to dip a bit lower than just Nemechek and Kligerman.
That's where Kyle Busch ($6,000) comes into play. Busch hasn't finished better than 17th yet, but he has received accolades for his improvement and seems to be flirting with a breakout. He finished third in his heat race at Bristol, though he couldn't carry that success over into the actual race. Still, as a salary-saver with 22/1 win odds, Busch provides us with a high-quality option at the bottom end of this tier. Ross Chastain ($7,000) is another name to consider.
Among the drivers below Busch in salary, two have odds at 33/1 or shorter. Those are Tyler Reddick ($5,500) and Christopher Bell ($3,500).
Reddick has run only two of the sanctioned races, but he qualified 13th both times and finished eighth in Bristol. There's risk here because he's not an experienced driver on iRacing, but he seems to be adapting quickly.
Bell is likely the best value option on the board. He is an experienced iRacer with almost 240 career wins, and he was runner-up behind Byron in his Bristol heat two weeks ago. The poor results (average finish of 24th) have given him a low salary, but he's much better than that. If you want to afford both Byron and Hill, Bell is a key component in getting there.
Because of the salary, Bell is likely to be popular among those who do research. The same cannot be said of Bubba Wallace ($4,000), who is also an experienced iRacer.
Wallace got headlines for rage-quitting at Bristol, and it cost him an iRacing sponsor. Clearly, if he were to do so again, it'd torpedo any lineup with him in it.
Still, Wallace has done some iRacing since then, and he finished seventh in the Homestead race to start this series. Lineups with Wallace will be unique given the negative headlines around him, so if you want to swing for the fences on a high-upside contrarian option, buy Bubba brazenly.