Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Cook Out Southern 500
The perpetual dilemma for evaluation in NASCAR DFS is track history versus current form.
Track history has value because each track on the Cup Series circuit is unique. Naturally, different drivers will be more prone to excel at one spot than another if it fits their style.
Current form has value because drivers change teams, and equipment matters a lot. Their talent levels also shift while they age, meaning track history data can reflect a previous version of themselves rather than their current state.
This week, we don't have to worry about those issues. The NASCAR Cup Series is going to Darlington, a track they have run twice already in 2020. We've seen drivers with their current teams on this track multiple times, a luxury we are never afforded. It's absolutely glorious.
Despite that, we want to be careful not to toss current form entirely out the window.
Track history matters more this week than usual. There's no point in pushing back on that, especially with how unique of a track Darlington is.
However, we have seen team strengths shift in the months since then. Those were the first two races after the COVID-19 layoff. Rookies have gained experience in that time, teams have found footing, and other teams have fallen a bit behind.
If we sell out and focus just on what we saw in the two Darlington races, we're going to miss those changes and potentially go down incorrect paths. Current form still matters even when we're jacking up the value of track history.
As such, here is this week's data sheet, which gives a glimpse at both. The track history section includes the past four races, but it's the two from this year we should value most highly. The current form section is the past five races at 1.5-mile tracks plus the first Charlotte race. The first Charlotte race was chosen over the second one because the starting order in the second had the potential to skew data a bit. The first was set by qualifying, likely making it more predictive.
Of those 1.5-mile tracks, Atlanta is one we could key in on. It's another track with heavy tire wear, similar to Darlington. If a driver did well in those conditions, the odds they perform well at Darlington are higher.
The 1.5-mile tracks certainly aren't a perfect judge of form because Darlington is super unique and isn't 1.5 miles in length. However, those races all used the same rules package in place this weekend, and they're not the wide-open speed meccas of Michigan, Pocono, and Indianapolis. That pushes us toward valuing the 1.5-mile tracks to judge form.
As always, the numbers listed for each race are the driver's average running position rather than where they finished. In the second Darlington race, Chase Elliott ($11,700) finished 37th. That's sub-optimal.
But the poor finish came because Elliott got wrecked by Kyle Busch ($11,000) late in the race. He then proceeded to give Busch the Earnhardt salute. But Elliott's eighth-place average running position is a better representation of his strength there than his 37th-place finish.
The other numbers listed are each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The odds are in fractional form, so Denny Hamlin ($13,500) being listed at 3.1 means he is +310 to win.
|Driver||FD Salary||Win |
|Martin Truex, Jr.||$12,400||7||6||4||17||7||11||3||3||7||14||16||10|
|John Hunter Nemechek||$5,500||200||18||18||24||28||20||25||21||38||18||--||--|
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||$5,500||200||29||35||24||25||23||14||23||28||40||28||19|
This should be a good indicator of why we can be interested in Busch despite his rough season thus far.
Busch will start 15th. That means we should be inclined to pair him with another stud starting closer to the front so that they can lead laps while Busch works his way through traffic.
But Busch should be able to make that jump. He has had a top-nine average running position in five of the six current form races on the chart, and his best average running position of the entire season was in Atlanta. It seems like things are slowly improving for him and his team despite wrecks aplenty and zero wins for the season.
Another potential place-differential option is Busch's teammate, Erik Jones ($10,500). Jones has had a top-10 average running position in all five of his career races at Darlington, and he has cashed that in with a win and three top-fives.
We do want to account for laps led within our lineups, so using Busch and Jones forces us to change our roster construction a bit. But both have cases to be made as high-value plays, and we'll want to make sure we consider them despite the complications on Sunday.