NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Bank of America ROVAL 400
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview breaks down this week's venue, and we also have The Heat Check Fantasy Podcast, where Jim Sannes breaks down his favorite plays for Sunday's slate. Jim also has a current form and odds breakdown to review how NASCAR's best drivers are performing recently analytically.
Talladega certainly lived up to the hype last Sunday, as a wild, overtime finish saw plenty of crashes, broken hearts, and penalties. Many of Matt DiBenedetto's faithful believed he finally had captured a checkered flag, but after review of a photo finish, it was not meant to be, as the winner was Denny Hamlin for the seventh time in 2020, which punched his ticket to the next round of the playoffs. That comes as a surprise to no one, as the FedEx Camry he pilots has accompanied Kevin Harvick as the class of the field all year, but those two enter this weekend's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway's ROVAL configuration as underdogs to Chase Elliott in NASCAR's elimination race before the Round of 8.
This race's lineup was determined using NASCAR's weighted formula that combines owner points, last Sunday's finish at Talladega, and the fastest lap of each driver in that race, which puts the winner Hamlin on the pole for this Sunday's event. All 12 remaining playoff drivers will start in the first 12 spots -- which will be the case for all playoff participants moving forward. That formula also gives Hamlin the premier pit stall choice.
Back on a road course layout this weekend with only 109 total laps available, the focus should be on finish order and place differential in that order. With that said, there have been two, clear-cut dominant cars at road courses in the past two years of NASCAR's Cup Series, which makes targeting a lap leader--and ultimately a winner--a priority as well. There should be plenty of opportunity to pass, and strategy in and around the stages should jumble the order often.
With that, let's preview the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte.
Chase Elliott ($13,500): There have been two clear-cut options to win at road courses in the Cup Series over the last two years -- Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. ($13,200). With Elliott starting second and Truex seventh, there likely is not enough upside at the front for both to be optimal plays in tournaments, but the dominant car of the afternoon likely comes from the pair. Elliott gets the nod for me, as he will have quick access to the lead from the front row, and Elliott has shown more dominant upside by leading 56.4% of the laps of NASCAR's last three road course races, compared to Truex leading just 11 laps total. Elliott has also won each of the past three road races. That will make him very popular, but he can be well worth it.
Ryan Blaney ($12,000): A late issue at the Daytona in August cost Blaney what would have been his fifth-straight top-10 finish at a road course, and he has also finished inside the top-five spots three times. After Truex crashed at the Charlotte ROVAL late in 2018, it was Blaney who scooped up the inaugural win at the track. He is one of four drivers with a top-five average finish at 4.50 (Elliott, Clint Bowyer, and Alex Bowman the others), but his 24th-place starting spot means he is the only one of that group starting outside the top 15, giving him tremendous place differential upside. Picking one of Elliott, Truex Jr., or polesitter Denny Hamlin ($12,500) and pairing that "assumed winner" with Blaney is a great building block for tournaments.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,600): With Talladega in the rearview mirror, the Charlotte ROVAL presents the second-to-last best opportunity for Jimmie Johnson to win another race before retirement, with Martinsville, where he led in June, likely the other. Johnson has had great success at the ROVAL. In 2018, he was the driver who crashed Truex on the final lap racing for the lead, and Johnson backed that up with a ninth-place finish in 2019. Johnson also finished fourth at Daytona in August, meaning that the seven-time champion is putting up great results on tracks with right-handers. Due to his accident at Talladega, Johnson starts 30th behind several slower cars, which should present great upside for a driver who will likely contend for a top-10 finish.
Matt DiBenedetto ($9,300): "Matty D" was so close to his elusive first Cup Series win last weekend, but he fell short at the line and was ultimately penalized anyway for forcing another driver off track. While that was disappointing, DiBenedetto has plenty to be happy about, as his contract was renewed for 2021, and he has been one of NASCAR's strongest road racers entering this weekend. DiBenedetto has posted five straight top-15 finishes at road courses between two different teams, with an average running position inside the top-10 spots in four of those. DiBenedetto's penalty means he will start 20th on Sunday, which offers him upside should he once again secure a top-15 finish.
Christopher Bell ($7,600): After a strong start to his rookie campaign, Bell has struggled to keep the car in one piece in recent weeks -- with finishes outside the top 20 in four of the last five races. That string of bad finishes leaves him starting nearly last (36th) this weekend, but Bell, given his Joe Gibbs Racing alliance, has much stronger equipment than many of the cars starting in front of him. Bell had an average running position inside the top 20 in his only Cup Series start on a road course at Daytona in August, but he won the Xfinity Series race at Road America last season and led laps in Xfinity Series events at the Charlotte ROVAL in both 2018 and 2019. Bell will be popular given his historical upside, and he is a core cash play due to his incredibly high floor.
Cole Custer ($7,300): Custer certainly prefers ovals, with all nine of his Xfinity Series wins and his lone Cup Series victory coming on tracks with only left-handed turns, but there is still upside in placing him in a FanDuel lineup on Sunday. Custer starts 28th due to his involvement in one of the several Talladega wrecks, and that gives him a high floor. His ceiling remains the question, as he finished a pedestrian 22nd at Daytona back in August in his lone Cup Series road course appearance, but he at least proved to be comfortable on the ROVAL layout at Charlotte, as he finished 8th and 7th in his two Xfinity Series appearances at this track. With so many drivers receiving surprise finishes last weekend, more punts are starting higher in the field than normal, which makes Custer one of the lowest-salaried options we can feel confident in this weekend.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.