Daily Fantasy NASCAR Driver Preview: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
Two of the biggest pillars of driver selection in daily fantasy NASCAR are track history and current form. Knowing where drivers sit on both of those spectrums is going to make our lineups look a whole lot nicer at the end of the race.
By looking at which drivers have excelled at this week's track in the past and those who are currently racing well, we can know which drivers are in line to be good plays for the slate. That's what we're going to try to do today, dividing drivers into those two buckets with noteworthy track history or noteworthy current form.
Clearly, this isn't to say that all of these drivers will be great plays in this race. A lot of that will be dictated by where they start and the scoring history at that track. To read more about what strategies we need to deploy based on starting position, check out this week's track preview.
Later in the week, once qualifying is in the books, we'll go through the top plays for the race based on all of these factors. But which drivers should we be keying on for the time being? Let's check it out. Here are drivers we should monitor for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.
Kyle Busch (FanDuel Salary: $14,500): Relative to the early-season version of himself, Kyle Busch is in a bit of a slump. He hasn't won for five races, and he has just one win in his past 11. But New Hampshire presents a big chance for him to get back into the win column.
Busch has finished third or better in three of the past four races, including a win in the 2017 fall race. He has led 95 or more laps in four of the past seven here, a stretch that includes another win back in 2015.
What's most important, though, is that Busch has been superb on similar tracks in 2019. He led 100 laps in both Phoenix and Richmond -- the two tracks most similar to New Hampshire -- and he was third in Martinsville, another short, flat track. Expect Busch to be back near the front once the checkered flag drops on Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($10,400): Kyle Larson's current form has been trending up rapidly, which is the main reason we should be intrigued by him in DFS. We'll chat more about that in a second. But it's also worth noting that New Hampshire has traditionally been a good track for him.
In nine career races at New Hampshire, Larson has four finishes of third or better. That includes both races in 2017, and he even started one of those races back in 39th. He knows how to get around this joint.
Two of Larson's three top-five finishes this year have come within the past five races, though both came at wildly different tracks from New Hampshire. What helps boost his candidacy is that Larson finished sixth in Phoenix, his best finish in the first 10 races this year. With things looking much rosier for Larson since then -- and with New Hampshire being a place where he seems to feel quite comfortable -- Larson deserves to be on our radar once again.
William Byron ($8,200): Just like Larson, the main appeal in William Byron is his current form. It doesn't hurt to see that New Hampshire is a place where Byron figures to be comfortable.
Byron's lone race in the Cup Series here was last year, and he had a respectable 14th-place finish. It was actually tied for the eighth-best finish of his rookie season. What really stands out, though, is what he did here in the lower series. During his age-18 season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Byron led 161 of 175 laps and got the win here. He followed that up the following year in the Xfinity Series by finishing third, right ahead of Cup regulars Larson and Brad Keselowski. At every level, Byron has done well at this track.
That makes his current form even more important. Byron has more top-10s in his past nine races (five) than he had his entire rookie year (four), and he has had a top-eight average running position in three of the past seven races. Even though Byron didn't pop at Phoenix and Richmond, he's still someone we should be monitoring closely in practice this weekend.
Daniel Suarez ($8,400): Daniel Suarez is currently 18th in the standings, putting him two spots out of a berth in the playoffs. He had a strong run last week in Kentucky, though, and he has been decent in the past at New Hampshire.
In three races here, Suarez has two top-10 finishes, both coming in 2017. He was sixth in the first race and eighth in the second. Another run like that would help him plenty in trying to make up ground in the playoffs.
The question is whether Suarez is capable of that. He finished 23rd in Phoenix and 18th in Richmond, and his average running position has been better than 12th just once this year. Because of this, even with some solid track history, we'll likely need to see plus times in practice to get super jazzed about Suarez as a mid-range play on Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. ($14,000): Martin Truex Jr.'s current form is firmly mixed. He has finished outside the top 15 in half of the past 12 races, but he has also won four times in that span. Luckily for him, one of the wins in that time came at Richmond, which bodes well for Sunday.
In that Richmond race, Truex started fifth, led 186 laps, and had a second-place average running position. That run is more legitimate when you see that he also was runner-up behind his teammate, Kyle Busch, in Phoenix and had a seventh-place average running position. At the two tracks most similar to New Hampshire, Truex has two podium finishes, which helps alleviate some of the concerns around his inconsistency.
Truex enters New Hampshire riding a string of three straight top-fives at the track, though he has never won. Despite that, he has managed to lead at least 83 laps in five straight races here. Given that and his stout record on short, flat tracks this year, we should view Truex as the second-best favorite to win behind Busch.
Kurt Busch ($11,000): Earlier, we talked about Kyle Larson's improving current form. That up-tick in speed has carried over to his teammate, as well, and Kurt Busch used that speed to get his first win of 2019 last week.
Busch didn't have the fastest car on Saturday night in Kentucky. But he was running at the front near the end of the night, and a late-race restart allowed him to convert that into a trip to victory lane.
Was the win unexpected? To an extent, sure. But you can't call it a fluke.
Busch has now had a top-10 average running position in eight races this year. When you do that, you're putting yourself in position to capitalize on late-race situations like the one he had in Kentucky. Two of those top-10 average running positions came at Phoenix and Richmond, and he led 94 laps in New Hampshire last year. We likely shouldn't expect Busch to win yet again, but he's not someone we can just brush off and ignore.
Erik Jones ($9,000): For 8 of the past 12 weeks, Erik Jones has been on the outside looking in for the Cup Series postseason race. He finally clawed his way back into 16th last week in Kentucky, a resurgence that has been brewing for a while.
In Kentucky, Jones finished third and was lurking right behind the Busch brothers in case something happened between the two of them. That was his third top-five and sixth top-10 in the past nine races. He finished outside the top 20 in the other three, which is why Jones is still battling for a playoff spot, but the highs for Jones are noteworthy.
Jones has been similarly volatile in his career in New Hampshire. He finished sixth in the 2017 fall race and had a fifth-place average running position, but he was outside the top 15 in his other two trips there. Jones is young, which often leads to a high crash frequency, but when he's running at the finish, he's often contending for a top-five. At this salary, we can accept that risk and feel solid about plugging Jones into our lineups.
Ryan Newman ($8,000): Ryan Newman quietly has four top-10s in his past five races, including a fifth-place finish in Daytona. For someone in this salary range, that's pretty spicy. He also ran well on tracks similar to New Hampshire earlier in the year.
In Phoenix, Newman converted an 11th-place average running position into a 12th-place finish. He followed that up in Richmond by finishing ninth, a run that was part of another string of three straight top-10 finishes. Despite some serious warts, Newman has helped revitalize this 6 team at Roush-Fenway Racing, and it's likely time we take note for DFS.
New Hampshire has long been a friendly track for Newman as he has three career wins here and logged a sixth-place finish last year. Newman's not someone who's going to run at the front and push for a win anymore, but with solid consistency and improving odds for a top-10 finish, he seems to be a pretty desirable value at $8,000.
Austin Dillon ($7,300): Austin Dillon's lone top 10 at New Hampshire came back in 2015, which means it's not something we should factor into our process. He hasn't been terrible since then, though, and he has flexed some relative muscle on similar tracks in 2019.
Dillon has had a top-12 average running position in seven races this year. Two of those have been recent races (Chicago and Daytona), so he hasn't been a dud of late. But three of the races have been the three races at flat, slow tracks (12th in Phoenix, 12th in Martinsville, and 9th in Richmond). He turned that Richmond run into a sixth-place finish, his lone finish better than 10th for the year.
Dillon hasn't had good enough finishes where we can trust him if he starts high in the order. But once he slips into the teens or lower -- our ideal starting range for a value play -- our interest in Dillon should increase. Keep an eye on him in practice on Saturday, and if Dillon carries the speed from Richmond into this weekend, feel free to plug him in despite a disappointing season thus far.
Chris Buescher ($7,000): Chris Buescher has been a fixture in the current form section for a while now, but most of that love has come because of his runs at 1.5-mile tracks. Buescher now has four top-10s on those tracks this year after entering 2019 with just one in his entire career. But those stout finishes note broader improvements for JTG-Daugherty Racing, which should translate even to a wildly different track in New Hampshire.
Although it won't show up in the finishing column, Buescher was in contention at Richmond back in April. He was third in the lone practice session in both single-lap speed and 10-lap averages. He had issues later in the race and finished 22nd, but that speed still counts. It means that this team is also capable of running well on this track type.
Buescher isn't likely someone to get a win or even a top-five finish. But you don't need that at this salary. What you need is someone who will likely start a bit deeper in the order and is capable of grinding out a top-10. That's what Buescher can provide, meaning we should continue to target him even as the series moves away from the tracks where he has had the most success this year.