Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: Federated Auto Parts 400
In the real world, there aren't a lot of overlaps between Darlington and Richmond. One is narrow and high-banked with tight turns. The other is short and flat with sweeping turns.
But our DFS strategies for both tracks will look pretty similar.
Entering last week's race in Darlington, our mindset was putting an emphasis on laps led while hunting for place-differential in our value plays. In a 367-lap race where you can make passes, that's the optimal route.
There are 400 laps scheduled for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400. That's 40.0 FanDuel points for laps led, putting it right in that same wheelhouse as last week's race. And our roster construction will follow suit, giving us a sense of familiarity as we fill out lineups.
Laps Led Aplenty
With such a long race, it's no surprise that drivers have shown the ability to post big totals in the lap-leading departments. The odds are high that multiple drivers will do so on Saturday.
There have been six races at Richmond since the implementation of stage racing. In those six races, nine drivers have led at least 100 laps, 14 have led 80 or more, and 18 have led at least 50. In other words, if Saturday night's race is in line with previous ones in Richmond, we can expect roughly three drivers to get a five-point bump from laps led. That's equivalent to 10 spots in place-differential points. This moves the needle in a big way.
This should make it obvious that we want to target drivers capable of leading laps within our lineups. That's a no-brainer. There are two important notes, though.
The first is that starting position seems to be a bit more important than it was last week in Darlington. All six of the drivers who led 120 or more laps started within the front three rows. Of the drivers to lead 50 or more laps, only three started outside the front four rows. If you wanted to lead laps, you generally had to start up front.
That could change this week. For most of those races, the grid was set by qualifying, meaning the fastest cars were already at the front. Here, it's set by an algorithm. If a driver finished poorly last week and is starting near the back end of the top 16 as a result, you could still consider them. There are several high-end options who fit that bill here, and they're still in play. But we should give a boost up to drivers who are starting at the front.
The second note is that we may not necessarily need all three lap-leaders in the same lineup. It doesn't hurt, but it may not be a necessity.
FanDuel has offered contests for three Richmond races. In all three perfect lineups, there was at least one driver who led 160 laps. Two of them had two drivers who led 90 or more laps.
But none of the middling lap leaders actually wound up in the perfect lineups. It was all or nothing in that regard.
Instead, the lineups featured place-differential drivers after the lap-leaders. Two of the three had three drivers starting outside the top 20. The third had a driver who started 37th.
Those were influenced by drivers who failed post-qualifying inspection, meaning there was a heavy degree of inefficiency in the starting order. However, things will be inefficient this week, too, because the starting order stems from the finishing order in the previous race. If someone had issues, they're going to start further back. That gives us a chance to scoop place-differential.
All non-playoff drivers will start outside the top 16. There are plenty of viable drivers who didn't make the playoffs. The method for setting the starting lineup will inherently present us with drivers who can make up ground once the race starts, and we should take advantage of that.
This is not to say we should ignore lower- and mid-salaried drivers who happen to start at the front. If you think a mid-range driver can lead laps -- or a value play can come through and finish well -- you can give them a sniff in tournaments. Our default preference should just be for the drivers in position to get place-differential.
Wrap it all together, and we're just doubling down on last week's strategy with a minor tweak. We want to emphasize laps led with our studs and place-differential with our value plays. The only difference is that starting position does seem to matter more for the studs.