NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Overton's 400
NASCAR is turning left again this weekend! After a unique week for DFS at the road course last weekend, a slight return to normalcy for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in the Windy City this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. This slick, curvy, one-and-a-half mile speedway has been the opening race for NASCAR's playoffs since 2011, but a change in the schedule this year has moved the race back to July.
It has been incredibly hot all weekend in Chicago, which presents challenges for drivers, crews, and even fans. The change in weather has a huge impact on the racing itself. Chicagoland Speedway in the cool, fall weather more closely resembles several 1.5-mile tracks on the circuit, but with the slick conditions, racing at the track feels like it has aged 25 years in the past nine months.
This DFS slate was tipped on its head as four marquee drivers -- Martin Truex Jr, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Chris Buescher -- committed post-qualifying infractions. Their times were disallowed, meaning they will start 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th, respectively. All of those pass-differential points for some race favorites will absolutely change things for Sunday.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about this track, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on drivers' recent history here and elsewhere, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Martin Truex Jr ($12,800 on FanDuel): What else is there to say about the defending champ? He scored his third win of the season last weekend at Sonoma, and he has won the last two races at Chicagoland. Truex and his team have been excellent on 1.5-mile racetracks the last two years, even though he is still yet to find victory lane at one this year. All signs point to Truex -- except one. A post-qualifying infraction means the team will start 36th.
For DFS purposes, the 36th starting spot means Truex will have ample opportunities for pass-differential points, and he is the one of the four you believe could lead laps, as well. Something to keep in mind: While he's a lead-pipe lock for cash, consider the benefit of ownership versus pass differential for Truex in GPPs.
Truex's starting spot renders Kyle Busch ($11,900) seemingly unfavorable, as Busch now does not have the largest pass-differential upside nor the most raw speed, it appears, of the big three. If you have to go light on one, it would appear to be Busch.
Kevin Harvick ($12,300): Happy Harvick has plenty of reasons to smile this year on 1.5-mile tracks. He has three wins, another second-place finish, and then a dead last at Charlotte after blowing a tire charging toward the front. He has arguably been the car to beat at all five. Overall, there is not a lot of stock to be had in practice times at a slick track where times fall off so rapidly, but his 10-lap average in final practice was the fastest, which never hurts. He also starts in 11th.
The Truex Jr news impacts Harvick significantly. Harvick is slightly closer to the front, and he won't have to battle the 78 for a while should he reach the front in Stage 1. He will be far less owned than if Truex was in a normal starting position, and Harvick is someone to remember despite Truex's upside seeming so tantalizing.
Kyle Larson ($11,400): Larson, yesterday's Xfinity Series race winner, was dominant and showed once again his immense talent at squeezing every inch out of a race track lacking grip. No one on the circuit runs the high side better than Larson, and he used it to cruise to a win on Saturday. He might do the same from 18th starting spot on Sunday. He led 191 laps at Kansas, the last 1.5-mile track the circuit was at, and that special groove of his reminds me of Harvick's way to navigate the bottom at Atlanta.
Larson was a favorite play in the field before the Truex news, but we should still feel really good about his chances to lead laps and contend for the win. Ultimately, pass differential can only take you so far. Larson himself is starting somewhat deep in the field, and he once again be on your radar.
Denny Hamlin ($10,600): Hamlin was not necessarily on the radar at this price before he also failed inspection. He appears to be having his usual solid weekend, but that comes with the upside this week of starting 37th. The FedEx Camry has shown solid speed, and his track history here is favorable, with two consecutive top-five finishes. With Hamlin, we are no longer in the price tier where domination is essential, and he may have a better chance to not get lapped than Jimmie Johnson does. Getting lapped is almost a death sentence in the Cup Series to achieve a top-five finish. Hamlin will likely be very popular today.
Chase Elliott ($10,600): If it weren't for Truex, Chase Elliott might have two career wins at Chicagoland already. He has already finished second and third here in his career, and he has actually led more laps than Truex has in the two races combined. The special buzz around Hendrick Motorsports this weekend is that they have made significant strides in speed the last two weeks, and Elliott starting third might be a clear sign of that. Someone is going to have lead laps if Truex and Harvick are unable to reach the front quickly, and Elliott might be as good a bet as any. Either way, sporting six straight finishes of 12th or better, he is a solid option for any DFS roster for the foreseeable future.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,500): Johnson is the third of the four who failed inspection, and he has the added bonus of this Hendrick revival sweeping the garage. Johnson showed just average speed in qualifying, so he becomes much more of a factor here starting 38th. Johnson really is the low end of the mid-tier, and so hitting value from his starting spot should be no issue if he can stay incident free. The negative is that starting this far back, Johnson may find himself a lap down early if his car is not as strong, and chasing that lap back would limit his upside.
Truex, Johnson, Hamlin, and Chris Buescher -- who we'll get to in a second -- are the four cornerstones of this slate. It is important for players to have a gameplan about who to have higher ownership of, and who to have lower ownership of. In cash, all four seems to be the best option, but it is likely in GPPs that you will have to correctly evaluate their outcomes in order to find great success.
Chris Buescher ($6,100): Buescher rounds out the "Fantastic Four" who have been the theme of this preview. His new listed position will be 39th, and he is another must in cash, like the other three problem children. Buescher will not have tremendous upside from that spot. He finished 12th at Sonoma last weekend, but we shouldn't expect a repeat of that. He will almost certainly go a lap down early, and that may compound into several laps if cautions come at inopportune times. However, he absolutely has a wonderful floor in this spot, a floor that is tough to pass up in cash. His ownership will probably have money changing hands a lot in GPPs, depending on his level of success.
Alex Bowman ($7,700): Many DFS NASCAR players will probably move off of Buescher to find some variance. These next two are tremendous pivot options, starting with Bowman. The Hendrick renaissance includes Bowman, and his teammate William Byron ($7,300). Bowman, starting deeper in the field, has a much higher floor. Bowman was fourth in opening practice, so he and the 88 team should be good on speed this weekend. Qualifying mistakes happen to young drivers, and Bowman slid up in Turn 2 and cost himself a great effort. Bowman, in this price range, has legitimate top-10 upside, something we probably can't say about Ricky Stenhouse ($8,000) or Kasey Kahne ($7,900).
Ryan Newman ($7,600): How did "Rocketman" fall this far in price? A lot of horrendous luck. Despite showing decent speed, Newman has scored only a 19.4 average finish for 2018, including four finishes outside the top 30. In this price range, nothing is ever going to be perfect. Starting 19th, the hope is that Newman can avoid some of the awful luck that plagued top-15 runs at Kansas and Charlotte, the last two 1.5-mile tracks, and he can actually finish one out. Newman was sixth in opening practice, so he unloaded with some raw speed, and going back again to Atlanta, he sat outside pole there before cutting a tire. If the race stays clean for him, Newman should be well worth this price, and he could be a great contrarian play with many scared off by his ugly race log.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.