Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Things to Know for the Cup Series All-Star Race
All-Star events in many sports can be beyond dull. The players don't want to put their bodies at risk, nor should they given that there's not much for them to gain.
That's not the case in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. There's $1 million up for grabs on Saturday night, and there aren't many motivators more enticing than some fat wads of cash.
To top it all off, we get a brand new format for this year's running, which figures to crank the intensity up even a hair more. For this race alone, NASCAR will put restrictor plates on the cars, something normally done only at Talladega and Daytona. This is the first time they will try it at Charlotte, adding an interesting wrinkle into the fold.
Because there are only 17 drivers currently locked into the field (four more will join them Saturday night but will not be available in the FanDuel player pool), we're going to have some different strategies we need to deploy. Let's run through what you need to know about this year's All-Star race before filling out your daily fantasy NASCAR lineups.
Before we get into the actual racing format, let's talk a bit more about those restrictor plates. That's going to be the big talking point of the weekend.
When the cars run with the restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega, they're able to race in giant, three-wide packs the entire race. Because Charlotte is a much smaller track than those two, the packs of cars may not be as common. But there should still be some similarities.
A similar package to this was used by the Xfinity Series last year in Indianapolis. The video below shows a snippet of that race to give you a feel for what the racing may look like.
As you can see, William Byron is able to chase down Kyle Busch from behind even after Busch has clean air in front of him. That doesn't normally happen at Indianapolis, and it's a major point to make.
It's Where You Finish
What this means is that lead changes should be plentiful throughout the race. It doesn't seem likely that one driver will be able to snag the lead and hold it for the entire event, which cuts into the potential ceiling for points via laps led. Above all else, that seems to be the biggest takeaway from this new package.
On top of that, there just aren't that many laps to lead in the first place. The race is 80 laps long, meaning there are eight total points for laps led available. You may stumble into some, but almost all of the points will come from where a driver finishes.
This isn't to say you can't get upside from place differential. If a driver starts 17th and wins, that's eight points for place differential on top of his finishing points. So if you're choosing between the two, you should gravitate toward the place differential angle rather than gunning for laps led.
Qualifying, Practice, and Current Form
Qualifying for the All-Star race will take place on Friday night. Drivers must complete three laps and have their pit crews do a four-tire pit stop as part of the qualifying. If a team has a mistake during its pit stop, a strong car could wind up starting near the back. That would be the type of car you'd want to build around if you're constructing multiple lineups.
To judge the strength of a car, there will be two practices on Friday afternoon. However, practice doesn't matter at other restrictor-plate tracks because speed in those sessions will be dependent on how tightly the packs are racing, boosting their speeds. It's hard to tell whether practice will matter for Charlotte, but it's fair to view those speeds with skepticism.
On top of that, track history at Charlotte will mean less because this rules package is so different from what we have seen in the past. It'll still be relevant because it's the same track, but the value of that will be lower.
The best data to lean on is likely current form. Look at drivers who have been the fastest this year (potentially lending extra weight to Daytona and Talladega), see which ones are in position to finish well or get place-differential points, and go from there. That current form is reflected in pricing, so be prepared to pay the piper, but these are the drivers who will be best positioned to feast.
This may be an unfulfilling strategy for DFS to basically roll out a big ol' shrug emoji. But this is a brand new format that we haven't seen in the Cup series before. As a result, if you're doing multiple tournament lineups, it would likely be wise to spread out exposure more than you normally would with a pool of just 17 drivers.
Additionally, don't be afraid to leave salary on the table. With such a small pool of players, you'll need to find a way to differentiate your lineups, and coming in under the salary cap is likely the best way to do so.
The biggest takeaways here are to emphasize place differential over laps led and shoot for cars that have been strongest during the 2018 season. Outside of that, just have fun with it. This is a new format, and the race should be wild. Be willing to get a little weird with it, sit back, and enjoy the sport's most unique night.