NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
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. We have a Heat Check Daily 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.
Dirty air was theme of a frustrating afternoon at Kansas Speedway, as passes under green-flag conditions were brutal for most of the day, and that allowed an opportunity for Penske's Joey Logano. Logano grabbed the lead on pit road late, and he was able to block the dominant Kevin Harvick to hold on for his first win since March, which was his third win overall in 2020. That locks Logano into the Championship 4 to race for the title at Phoenix in three weeks, and the second golden ticket could be punched this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. This fast, 1.5-mile oval could prove to be more of the same with passing conditions, making track position a top priority.
This race's lineup was determined using NASCAR's new qualifying procedure that combines owner points, last Sunday's finish in Kansas, and the fastest lap of each driver in that race, which puts Kevin Harvick on the pole for this Sunday's event. All eight remaining playoff drivers will start in the first eight spots -- which will be the case for all playoff participants moving forward. That formula also gives Harvick the premier pit stall choice. PJ1 traction compound will be applied to the race track this weekend in hopes of helping passing.
This weekend's race has 334 laps available to lead, and passing should be extraordinary difficult, which will make having the right exposure to potentially dominant cars the key to a lineup's ceiling on FanDuel. Those have been heavily concentrated to one person in the last five races, as in four of those five events, one driver led at least 110 laps, and the next highest total was 87 laps in any given event. There is still plenty of time to pass and find value through place differential, however, as 12 of the 50 top-10 finishers in that same five-race sample started outside the top-20 spots.
With that, let's preview the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas.
Kevin Harvick ($14,000): Given that track position will be at such a premium, it would be hard to turn down the pole-sitter of the event and a guy who has led 1,503 laps this year, the most of any driver in 2020. Kevin Harvick is that candidate, and Harvick had the dominant car with this same aero package at another 1.5-mile track last week, leading 85 laps despite not being able to find a way around Joey Logano late. Harvick has an additional boost beyond that, as he has won each of the last three Texas fall races, as well, albeit in various aero packages. Harvick will come with enormous popularity as last week's dominant car and with his track history, but he has clear access to a huge ceiling through laps led.
Denny Hamlin ($13,300): Denny Hamlin lead 58 laps last week at Kansas, which made that the eighth straight 1.5-mile race in which he has led at least 25 laps. His consistency to find the front at these tracks is valuable, especially considering Hamlin was also the winner in Fort Worth in April 2019. There is a fairly sizable gap between Harvick back to his nearest competitors, with Joey Logano ($13,000) starting on the outside front row -- with six top-10 finishes in seven races -- also in consideration with Hamlin. But Hamlin does have at least some place differential upside from seventh.
Kurt Busch ($10,500): One of the most interesting stats of the weekend -- Kurt Busch has finished exactly either 7th, 8th, or 9th in each of the last seven Texas races. Busch, by virtue of a horrible engine failure at Kansas last week, starts 8th, the lowest of all playoff drivers. He does badly need a win, which could make for an interesting strategy call late if he has an opportunity to take the lead and block (just as Logano did last week). Even if Busch were to duplicate his solid efforts from past Texas events, that would be a good result from this salary, which is also the lowest of all playoff drivers. However, his situation might lead to a situation where he pushes for a late win at a 1.5-mile race, which is exactly what he did at Las Vegas earlier this month.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,800): Even starting 26th, Jimmie Johnson may be in the realm of just a tournament-only play. His 10 finishes outside the top-20 this season have left him with a lower-than-usual floor, but Johnson's equipment and talent give him a chance to finish much better than his place on the starting grid. Texas has actually been Johnson's best race track in terms of finding the front. Since the start of 2017, his 129 laps led in Fort Worth are the most of any track. He has only two top-10 finishes in that span, but he did convert one to a win in April 2017. His starting spot may render him more popular than he should be in tournaments, given his 2020 struggles, but from a pure upside perspective, Johnson is still definitely worth rostering.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,000): The case for Matt DiBenedetto is definitely harder to made on the surface given that he has never finished inside the top-10 at Texas Motor Speedway, but he was certainly in position to do so in the July race here. He was running third before green flag pit stops began. He serviced his vehicle and then was driven straight into by a lost Quin Houff. DiBenedetto had a top-10 running position that afternoon despite that late incident, but that should not be surprising given the equipment he now drives in. The Wood Brothers Ford has historically been strong in Texas. Paul Menard earned stage points in three of the last six stages he raced here between 2018 and 2019, and Ryan Blaney led 148 laps at Texas in the car in 2017. With this track so fast and pass differential value harder to find on this slate, DiBenedetto is a high-upside tournament option.
Matt Kenseth ($7,200): A frustrating 2020 for Matt Kenseth took another negative turn on Sunday in Kansas, as he crashed when running inside the top-20 and finished dead last in 40th. Combining that with his poor effort at the Charlotte ROVAL, and he continues to start deeper in the field than he should as he is a teammate to Kurt Busch with solid top-20 equipment. Kenseth starts 32nd on Sunday, and while his upside and speed have been greatly capped in 2020 to this point, he should be a great plug in cash given how deep in the field he is starting. A top-20 finish would pay off this salary, which is something Kenseth did by coming in 18th in the July race at Texas. If his car is handling well on Sunday, he may be able to record a top-10 finish in The Lone Star State, which would be the 20th of his career.
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.