Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Bank of America Roval 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 racing at the road course in Charlotte for the first time ever. There are tons of unknowns to be dealt with, and that's all happening with this being the first cutoff race in the playoffs. What do we need to know before filling out lineups for the Bank of America Roval 400? Let's check it out.
The brown stuff's gonna hit the fan this weekend in NASCAR. We just have to know how to exploit it.
We'll talk about the playoff implications of this race in just a second. But there's enough drama going on this weekend even before you account for that.
Sunday will be the first time that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has run at the Charlotte road course. That means we have no data to look at here, and the teams don't know what's going to happen. But based on testing drivers did here over the summer, it could be a wild one.
And William Byron wasn't the only one to feel the wrath of the course.
These are the best drivers in the world, wrecking while they're running all by themselves. What's going to happen when you add 39 other cars into the mix?
After a test in July, A.J. Allmendinger told Kelly Crandall of Racer that portions of the track would race like a short track with contact being plentiful. These predictions are impactful as we try to formulate a strategy for the race.
At short tracks and restrictor-plate tracks, the attrition rate allows us to target drivers starting further back. Each crash pushes those drivers closer to the front of the pack, inflating their finishing and place-differential points. This should lead us to want to target drivers who are starting in the middle to the back of the pack.
That's not the only aspect of this race that indicates we should deploy this strategy, giving us a fairly clean-cut approach on Sunday.
In Sunday's race, there will be just 109 laps, equating to 10.9 points for laps led in FanDuel's scoring rules. This makes it the second-shortest race on the schedule, longer than only Watkins Glen and one lap shorter than the other road-course race in Sonoma.
Given that Sonoma and the Charlotte roval are just one lap apart, we can look back to Sonoma and try to draw some conclusions from that race. Clearly, these are different tracks, and we should expect them to behave differently for daily fantasy, but it is still the best guide we've got.
In that race, the optimal lineup on FanDuel contained the drivers who started 2nd, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 25th. The driver who started second was Martin Truex Jr., and he won the race. Outside of that, it was all drivers who started in the middle of the pack and finished well.
The Cup series has been going to Sonoma since 1989, and the track has been in its current configuration since 2002. Drivers know what to expect there, which can decrease the variance a little bit. That's not going to be the case this weekend.
Based on this, it seems like we do need to target drivers who start in the back. They'll be the ones who possess the most upside with laps-led essentially being a non-factor, and the nature of the track should allow them to move their way forward.
Even with that being said, we can still likely target one driver toward the front who we think has a shot to win the race. You get 43 finishing points on FanDuel for a win, and the gap down to the 40 points for second place is significant. It's likely wise to start your lineup with a driver who you think will win the race before dipping down and using your other four slots on place-differential drivers.
If a top-tier driver qualifies poorly and starts in the back, they're going to be a tremendous play, and this is decently likely to happen with all the potential spots for miscues on the course. If this happens, we can feel comfortable going hard at them in both cash games and tournaments because their upside and floor will both be higher than the other drivers in the field.
As mentioned at the beginning, this is the final race before the first cutoff during the playoffs. That means that after Sunday's race, 4 of 16 drivers will have their chance at a championship this year cut short. That's going to play a role in what goes down on Sunday.
If a driver wins this race, they automatically punch their ticket to advance to the next round. That's going to lead to heavy amounts of desperation for the drivers currently on the outside looking in.
As of right now, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, and Denny Hamlin are set to miss the next round. But Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, and Ryan Blaney are all also within 10 points of the cutoff, and only Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. have ensured themselves spots in the next round. There's a ton at play here, and it's going to make things a bit crazy.
Jones and Hamlin are the two most likely to need a win in order to advance, but they're also a pair of talented drivers on road courses. They're decent bets to contend on Sunday, though their desperation may lead to a bit of a high-variance nature as they may need to get creative to get to the front of the pack.
It's good to be aware of these scenarios as you check out qualifying and practice results in preparation for the event. But we also have to be careful not to over account for them. At the end of the day, our best bet will be to focus on the roster-construction strategies discussed above and zeroing in on drivers who have done well at road courses this year. If that leads us to a driver like Jones or Hamlin in need of a win, that's great. If not, we shouldn't likely force it in too many of our lineups.