NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: All-Star Race
Life's more fun when things are set by a random draw.
As mentioned in yesterday's strategy overview for the NASCAR Cup Series' All-Star Race, we want a blended roster construction on Wednesday night. There are enough laps scheduled -- 140 with the possibility for more with caution laps not counting in the final stage -- where we have incentive to roster drivers starting near the front who can lead laps. But with it being a short race, the rest of our lineup and our core for tournaments should revolve around drivers starting further back who can soak up some place-differential points.
Monday night's draw gave us some clear routes in both buckets. We're going to be able to fill out some fun lineups that also fit with our optimal roster construction.
Before we dig into drivers who fit in each category, it's worth mentioning again that there's upside in making your rosters different from the crowd. With just 16 drivers in the player pool on FanDuel, we're going to have a lot of duplicated lineups. As a result, we should be actively searching for overlooked drivers and leaving salary on the table in order to increase the odds we fill out a unique lineup.
With that in mind, let's go through some drivers starting near the front who could lead laps. These will be your tournament-centric plays. Then we can swoop in and check out place-differential options after that.
With the way the draw worked, a lot of the weaker drivers in the field happened to to wind up starting near the front. The big exception was Ryan Blaney ($10,000) in third, and it makes him a standout option for a lap-leader.
Blaney has consistently run out front in his career at Bristol; he just hasn't been able to seal the deal. He has just one top-five in 10 career races despite leading 60 or more laps in four of the past five trips here. Part of that is because Blaney has wrecked twice while leading, which is not recommended.
Blaney won't have a ton of competition to lead right away, and with how quickly laps tick off at Bristol, that may be enough for him to pay off in DFS. As such, he's the guy we should turn to most often when hunting for that laps-led upside.
The other obvious option near the front is Kevin Harvick ($13,500), starting right behind Blaney in fifth. Harvick, though, has struggled at Bristol in recent seasons with just one top-10 average running position in the past five races. That exception happened to come this spring, but the performance gap between Blaney and Harvick is why we should be willing to take the savings and rank Blaney highest.
If you want a more contrarian route in your lap-leaders, then you can look at the front row of Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500) and Alex Bowman ($8,500). This may be Truex's worst track as he has just two top-fives and three top-10s here in 29 career races. That will make him less popular, though, and we need to find ways to be different. That at least puts Truex on the map.
But the more desirable route for pivoting off of Blaney seems to be Bowman. Bowman was fifth here in the 2018 spring race and eighth that fall, so he has had at least semi-recent success. Bowman is also a lesser name than Truex, meaning he'll likely be on even fewer rosters. As such, Bowman can be our top route for deviating from the pack, but if we're going to play things straight up, Blaney is the play at the front.
With so many mediocre options up front, it's obvious that our elite plays will be further back. That's exactly how things played out. The top option seems to be Denny Hamlin ($13,000).
Hamlin drew the 15th-place starting spot, the second-lowest mark for any driver already locked into the race. This comes after he won last year's fall race and led 131 laps this spring, though he -- like Blaney -- crashed while fighting for the lead. Hamlin's current form is hard to match, and he'll have plenty of cushion with this 15th-place starting spot. Hamlin is a lock for cash games and a great tournament play.
The top three drivers straight up in my model are all starting back here, as well. In order by my model, those drivers are Joey Logano ($11,000), Brad Keselowski ($12,000), and Chase Elliott ($11,500). Keselowski is starting ninth while Logano and Elliott are 12th and 13th, respectively. Keselowski won the spring race after Elliott and Logano wrecked while battling for the lead. However, with Logano and Elliott starting a bit further back (and with Logano being $1,000 cheaper), we'll rank them a hair higher than Keselowski. Regardless, all three of these drivers are on par with Hamlin from an optimization perspective.
If you want to jam in Hamlin and company without going all the way up to your salary cap, then you'll need some values. The clear top two are Jimmie Johnson ($7,000) and Erik Jones ($9,000).
Johnson is starting 14th with Jones in 16th. Johnson had a seventh-place average running position here in the spring that he converted into a third-place finish, and he has four top-10s in the past five Bristol races even while his career has been in decline. Johnson's easily the top value play on the board.
As for Jones, the upside is there. He has three career top-fives at Bristol, one of which came this spring, and he even led 260 laps here back in 2017. He can wing it around this joint. Jones has had a brutal 2020 season, so there is downside here, but everybody in this field comes with risk. As such, Johnson and Jones are our top values, and we should pair the two together often.
If you are looking for value pivots from them, your top outlets are Kurt Busch ($8,000) and Ryan Newman ($5,000). The reason they're pivots is that they're starting higher in the field (7th for Busch and 11th for Newman). However, Busch won here back in 2018 and has four straight top-10s, and Newman has finished on the lead lap in 11 of the last 13 races here. Attrition is going to be an issue, and the odds Newman is at least around at the end are decent.
While we should favor Johnson and Jones straight up, we should also turn to Busch and Newman, whether it be as contrarian plays or to leave some salary on the table.