Daily Fantasy iRacing Helper: Geico 70 at Talladega
The name of the game for iRacing DFS this weekend is roster construction.
William Byron ($16,000) is driving like his excrement don't stink right now, winning each of the past two races. He's the betting favorite, and it's for good reason. The dude is an iRacing legend.
But he's also $16,000, and if you use him, your average salary remaining per driver is $6,800. You can make that work. The question is whether you need to.
This week's iRacing stop is in Talladega. In the real world, Talladega is a high-variance wasteland of destruction where anybody can win and anybody can have their day ended on the second lap. When the variance is that high, it's harder to justify forking over all the cash it requires to get Byron on your roster.
With that in mind, which drivers should we target for iRacing DFS on FanDuel? Let's check it out.
The intro here was not an attempt to say you shouldn't use Byron. That's certainly not the case.
There are 70 laps scheduled for Sunday's race, meaning there's big upside to be had if you can correctly predict which driver will tow the field. That could very well be Byron, and his iRacing talent increases the odds that he is that guy.
Because of this, if you're multi-entering, it's in your best interest to have Byron on some of your rosters. However, Byron's going to be super popular despite the salary, and the odds things go poorly are also high. It might be a good time to jump ship on Byron and go underweight in tournaments while potentially excluding him in single-entry contests.
Timmy Hill ($13,500) is also expensive, but his salary isn't nearly as prohibitive as Byron's. He's also less likely to be among the more popular options because of the allure of Byron.
Hill has proven that he can wheel it in iRacing, leading the Pro Series with an average finish of 2.25, never finishing worse than third. He also tends to start near the front, meaning the potential for laps led is certainly there. There's a lot to like about Hill, even at the elevated salary. (NOTE: Byron, Hill, and Parker Kligerman ($9,200) will start in the back of the field due to a field inversion from last week's race. This lowers their laps-led potential but does not impede their ability to finish well due to the high-variance nature of Talladega.)
This is also a good race to check out two Cup Series staples, one current and one former. Those are Denny Hamlin ($11,000) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($11,500), respectively.
Hamlin won the iRacing series opener at Homestead and has stayed on his game since then. He was fourth in Bristol and sixth in Richmond. He also won the actual Cup Series race in Daytona this year and has generally been a plus on pack-racing tracks. With how well Hamlin has transitioned to virtual racing, it's fair to expect him to measure up well in Talladega.
As for Earnhardt, Talladega was always his stomping ground, a place where he won six times before retirement. He, like Hamlin, has been solid in iRacing with a runner-up and three top-10s across four races. Neither Hamlin nor Earnhardt is all that expensive, and they're 11/1 or shorter to win the race. They're good pairings with Hill or potentially salary-saving studs if you want to go with a more balanced approach.
If you compare betting odds to DFS salaries this weekend, one driver jumps out as being a bit underpriced. That's Kyle Busch ($8,600), who is 10/1 to get the win.
The optimism here is certainly warranted. Busch had been getting hype around his improvement in iRacing in recent weeks, and he finally converted that into a full solid race in Richmond. Busch climbed through the pack and finished fifth there. He's still relatively cheap and is someone you can target regardless of whether you use Byron or not.
If you have a more balanced approach with either Hill or the Hamlin/Earnhardt combo at the top, you'll have the coin to get Parker Kligerman ($9,200), which is an attractive proposition. Kligerman's average finish of 8.75 is tied for third through four races behind Hill and Garrett Smithley ($10,500). Kligerman is an experienced iRacer and has parlayed that into plus results so far. With his betting odds being longer and name value being smaller than Busch's, Kligerman's an elite pivot off of what could be the expected chalk.
On the cheaper side of this tier, Matt DiBenedetto ($7,600) grades out well. His average finish thus far is 14.5, the best of any driver who has run all four races with a salary below $9,000. DiBenedetto was fifth in Bristol and had solid outings in both Homestead and Texas, as well. In the real world, he has been a plus on tracks like Talladega despite a major equipment gap, so DiBenedetto should be top of mind if you're peppering this mid range.
In a format like this, it's boring to go with real-world NASCAR studs. We've seen guys like Hill, Kligerman, and Smithley pop up, and you want to root for them to get their names out there.
Still, among the values, you've gotta dig Brad Keselowski ($6,600).
Keselowski is a lot like Hamlin and Busch in that he has shown improvement as things have progressed. He was 25th and 24th in Homestead and Bristol, respectively, before churning out a 10th-place run in Richmond. That was after qualifying ninth, which means the single-lap speed is on the rise, a key if you're hunting for laps led.
Keselowski is a great driver who seems to be adapting to the program, and we've seen similar moves from other drivers of his ilk. We saw Busch's salary rise to account for his gains; it shouldn't be a surprise if Keselowski's follows suit soon.
A bit cheaper than Keselowski is Erik Jones ($5,500). Despite his youth, Jones is unlike Byron in that he's not some long-established iRacing deity. He just started when the season was put on pause, but he has acclimated well with a pair of top-10 runs in four races. Ideally, you'd like to squeeze out some more experience in this range, but most of that has dried up. Jones at least gets you access to quality results in a small sample without breaking the bank.
For your Byron lineups, you're going to have to live in the $6,000 range. In that spot, other drivers you'll want to turn to include Ross Chastain ($6,900), Daniel Suarez ($6,000), and Ty Dillon ($6,000). All three have had at least mild success thus far in the Pro Series and fit that construction.
If you want to gun for a true punt play, Aric Almirola ($3,000) and Cole Custer ($3,000) are your best bets. Nobody in this tier has iRacing experience, so that angle is out the window. But Almirola and Custer have relatively short betting odds at 50/1 and 60/1, respectively. Almirola is a former winner at Talladega in real life, and Custer at least has experience in competitive equipment on these tracks between the Cup and Xfinity Series. It's hard to get jazzed about anybody below Jones in salary, which is why it's harder to jam in Byron, but these are at least two options you have if you want to skew top-heavy.