Daily Fantasy NASCAR: KC Masterpiece 400 Track Preview
One of the unique challenges with daily fantasy NASCAR is that every track is different. Not only does this mean that certain drivers will perform better at one place than another, but each track will have different scoring tendencies than the previous one. That means we need to alter our strategies pretty drastically.
Each week here on numberFire, we're going to dig into the track that's hosting the upcoming weekend's race to see what all we need to know when we're setting our lineups. We'll have a separate piece that looks at drivers who have excelled there in the past; here, we just want to know about the track itself. Once qualifying has been completed, we'll also have a primer detailing which drivers fit this strategy and should be in your lineup for that week.
This week, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is heading to Kansas for the KC Masterpiece 400. It's a 267-lap event, and races at this track can be exciting. Let's take a look at what strategies we should deploy.
The tracks the Cup series has been to the past two weeks -- Talladega and Dover -- are about as different as you can get. One emphasizes place differential, and the other forces you to find drivers who will lead laps.
Kansas Speedway is a perfect blend of the two.
With 267 total laps in the race, there are 26.7 points available on FanDuel for laps led. That's between the 18.8 we had in Talladega and the 40 in Dover. Laps led are going to factor into the equation.
But it's also easier to make up ground here than it is in Dover, especially on restarts. Watch Martin Truex Jr. here, the fifth car back on the outside line.
Truex restarted 10th and was up to 6th place by the middle of the backstretch. He went on to win the race despite receiving a penalty for an illegal restart earlier on. You do want the points for laps led, but drivers can make up spots in a hurry here.
To identify drivers who may do that, we can, again, turn to practice times. In last year's fall race, there was a correlation of 0.744 between each driver's ranking in the final practice and their average running position during the race. It was 0.709 for the second practice and 0.783 for the first. There will be just two practices this weekend -- both completed by Friday afternoon -- and we can draw plenty from them.
Because Kansas is wide and fast, it can be a bit of a wreck fest, as we saw last year. But that doesn't mean it's unpredictable. As a result, feel free to put weight into the practice sessions and feel confident in the plays you deem to be best.
Historic Scoring Trends
With that in mind, which starting positions should we target for this race? Here's the FanDuel point output by starting position at Kansas over the past four races.
If you look, you can see a trend line developing where drivers starting at the front tend to score more points. But you can put up a big score from almost anywhere.
The highest score for any driver over the past four races came from Ryan Blaney at the fall race last year. He started 40th but still managed to finish 3rd with an average running position of 7th. It did not take him long to get to the front, and he even led three laps. If a high-quality driver starts near the back, he can be an absolute stud.
But that's not to say we should ignore the drivers at the front. The table below shows the average FanDuel point output by each driver based on their starting position in this four-race span. As mentioned, those laps led do still carry weight.
|Starting Position||Average FD Points|
|1st to 5th||53.52|
|6th to 10th||47.95|
|11th to 15th||47.70|
|16th to 20th||47.83|
|21st to 25th||42.11|
|26th to 30th||47.45|
|31st to 35th||46.30|
|36th to 40th||38.69|
The drivers starting first through fifth averaged the most points despite having several drivers post grotesquely negative place differentials. That should reinforce the need to find at least a few laps led.
If laps led are what you need, the front of the pack is where you should look. In this 4-race sample, 4 drivers led at least 100 laps; they started 1st, 1st, 3rd, and 7th. If we expand this to look at the drivers who led at least 20 laps, only 1 has started outside the top 10. That was Kevin Harvick, who started 11th. Eight of the 11 drivers started in the top five.
Each of the four races has had at least two drivers lead 65 or more laps, which is a good chunk of points to pick up on the competition. This is evident when you look at the top-scoring drivers for each race.
Let's pretend for a second that you don't have a salary cap and that you can pick any five drivers for your roster. If you were to do that, which starting spots would have appeared in the perfect lineup most often over the past four races? That data is below.
|Starting Position||Drivers Among Top-Five Scorers in Race|
|1st to 5th||6|
|6th to 10th||3|
|11th to 15th||3|
|16th to 20th||3|
|21st to 25th||1|
|26th to 30th||3|
|31st to 35th||0|
|36th to 40th||1|
On average, there have been about two drivers per race who were among the top-five scorers after starting in the top 10. There were two races with three such drivers, one had two, and the other had just one. This gives you some flexibility in how you want to compose your rosters.
If all the top drivers on your list are starting near the front, you can try to jam them in while using two value slots to fill out the roster. This is a high-risk strategy because there are only 267 laps, but it is one that has found success within the past few races.
If qualifying gets weird and high-profile drivers find themselves near the back, you can also feel free to plug them in. Although they may not get the bonus points for laps led, they can post a big place differential and still finish high at the end.
Last week, the question we were forced to ask ourselves was whether the driver would lead laps or get us place differential points. If not, they didn't belong on our rosters.
It's largely the same this week, though potentially to a lesser degree. If a driver is starting 26th, he's not going to get the same place differential points that Blaney got in the fall, and he's not going to lead laps. But he can still have a decent day, justifying inclusion on our rosters.
The final thing we need to figure out is where we can find value. These low-cost drivers aren't ones who will lead laps, and they're probably not pushing for a top-10 finish, either. So where can we save some money?
The best low-dollar plays (and by that, we mean simply drivers who would have been cheap had FanDuel been offering contests) have been drivers who started in the late 20s or in the 30s and logged a finish around 15th. Michael McDowell moved from 35th to 13th in last spring's race, David Ragan finished 17th in the same race after starting 34th, and Ty Dillon had finishes of 16th and 14th after starting 29th and 22nd, respectively. If the value driver shows any speed in practice and is starting near that range, feel free to take a chance on them.
The bottom line is that you have flexibility at Kansas. If you like a lot of the drivers starting in the back, you can put them on your roster while having one anchor you think will lead laps. If you'd rather try to nail those studs starting at the front, you can do that, too. Simply pick a driver starting at the front you think will lead laps, identify some others who will finish well based on practice -- regardless of starting position -- and build from there.