Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: Bass Pro Shops Night Race

The NASCAR Cup Series wraps up the first round of the playoffs Saturday night in Bristol. What do we need to know before setting our NASCAR DFS lineups?

For the first time in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series, they're holding a playoff race at Bristol. That's one dose of desperation.

But just to make things even more hectic, this race will also decide who advances to the second round. Drivers automatically advance with a win, and the bottom four drivers in points at the end of the night see their championship hopes go up in smoke.

The brown stuff's gonna hit the fan in a big way. And we're the ones who benefit.

Saturday's Bass Pro Shops Night Race is perpetually one of the Cup Series' best races of the year, and this year's rendition brings with it massive playoff implications. It's going to lead to excitement from a real racing perspective. We just have to figure out how to make it a bit extra exciting by winning some cash along the way.

Fortunately for us, it's not a big deviation from how we've been playing things recently. Let's break down what that means from a strategy perspective and see how we should play things on Saturday night.

Sell Out for Lap-Leaders

Targeting lap-leaders has been an emphasis of ours each of the past three weeks. It's even more critical to snag that upside at Bristol.

Whereas the races in Dover, Darlington, and Richmond had between 367 and 400 laps, Saturday night's shindig is 500 laps long. That's 50.0 FanDuel points for laps led alone. We're going to see drivers get big boosts in this department, and we need those drivers in our rosters.

It's also unlikely to be just one or two drivers who get notable bumps. There have been seven Bristol races since the implementation of stage racing in 2017. In those seven races, 15 drivers have led at least 100 laps. Five more have led at least 80 laps, and a whopping 27 drivers have led 60 or more laps. That means -- on average -- 3.9 drivers per race have gotten a six-point bump for running out front.

Basically, Bristol is those other races on HGH.

Because you use just five drivers per FanDuel lineup, you obviously don't need all six of those lap-leaders in a single roster. But you will need at least two, and it may be wise to gun for three.

FanDuel has offered contests for four Bristol races. On average, the perfect lineups for those races have had 266 laps led across the four drivers. In two of the races, there were just two drivers who got significant bumps from laps led. In each of the past two fall races, there have been three lap-leaders in the perfect lineup. We need to be aggressive in seeking these lap-leaders out or else our lineups will be left in the dust.

Not shockingly, most of those lap leaders will come from the front of the starting grid. Here's a look at the starting ranges for the drivers who have led at least 60 laps within the past seven Bristol races.

Starting RangeDrivers to Lead 60-Plus Laps
1st to 5th14
6th to 10th7
11th to 15th2
16th to 20th4
21st to 25th0
26th to 30th0
31st to 35th0
36th to 40th0

Drivers starting on the front row have led an average of 76.6 laps per race. It dips into the 30s by the time you get to the second row. So, you'll want to give a big bump up to Brad Keselowski ($13,200) and Joey Logano ($12,500) on the front row, but more broadly, we should give a boost to drivers starting near the front.

A good rule of thumb might be to include at least three playoff drivers in each lineup. The playoff participants will start within the top 16 spots. This gives them easier access to laps led, and you know they'll have the speed to finish well, too. You can potentially squeeze in a fourth if you truly punt with your fourth spot, and punting is fully in play here given the likely top-heavy nature of the scoring distribution.

With the true value plays, it's okay to shoot for place-differential. There will be crashes on Saturday night, and with every crash in front of a driver, they effectively gain 1.5 FanDuel points (one point for the finishing position and 0.5 points for place-differential). If there's a three-car crash, that's 4.5 FanDuel points. So, you can absolutely scoop value plays starting further back. With your studs, though, they need to start and run out front.

Playoff Implications

Normally, we'll want to avoid buying into narratives when making decisions. The playoff dilemma will actually alter the way drivers play things on Saturday night, though, and we should consider it when filling out lineups as a result.

Entering the race, Ryan Blaney ($11,300) and Matt DiBenedetto ($9,700) are both more than 20 points behind the cutline. They basically need a win if they're going to advance, unless things get super jacked up in front of them. Blaney has already said, "I caution those in front of me," so you know lil buddy's gonna tear some stuff up on Saturday.

Aggression isn't a bad thing. It increases a driver's range of outcomes, but it also increases the odds they'll hit the high end of that range. So, Blaney and DiBenedetto figure to let it all hang out on Saturday night, and it's okay to give them a slight bump up as a result.

The drivers right on the bubble who may be more inclined to race for points are Aric Almirola ($9,000), Kurt Busch ($11,000), Clint Bowyer ($10,700), William Byron ($8,800), and Cole Custer ($8,200). We don't need to be too concerned around them because pit strategy figures to play less of a strategy here than it would at a place like Pocono or Indianapolis where you can pit without going a lap down. It is worth noting, though, that it's possible they'll skew toward a more conservative gameplan.

As mentioned at the top, though, anybody can clinch a spot with a win. All drivers will be gunning for that. And even if they've already advanced, a win gets them five playoff points, which they carry into the next round.

Because of this, we can largely keep things status quo on most drivers. They're all motivated to win, and nobody on the bubble can be too cautious. The big change is bumping up Blaney and DiBenedetto and hoping the promised aggression translates into fantasy points on Saturday night.