Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Season Finale 500
In the past when the NASCAR Cup Series has held its championship race, we have known what to expect. A driver in the championship four was going to win the race, and another driver in contention was likely to finish second. The former happened all six races, and the latter happened five times.
This year's a bit different. Instead of racing at the high speeds of Homestead, they're heading to a short, flat track in Phoenix. This forces us to re-examine the NASCAR DFS process we peddled last year which was to jam in two of the championship drivers into almost every lineup you filled out.
Kevin Harvick ($12,300 on FanDuel) isn't in the championship four, but he is the favorite to win (+310 at FanDuel Sportsbook). Clearly, bookmakers think we're going to see a different product this weekend.
But for DFS, the optimal move still seems to be jamming in two of those top four drivers.
The reasoning isn't about the narratives around the championship race, though. It's just because they're the best drivers right now on this track type.
The championship four -- Brad Keselowski ($13,500), Joey Logano ($13,300), Denny Hamlin ($13,000), and Chase Elliott ($12,500) -- combined to win four of the five races on short, flat tracks this year. That includes the first race in Phoenix with Logano claiming the checkered flag.
Those four drivers will also start in the top four spots on the grid, giving them easier access to laps led. With 31.2 FanDuel points available for laps led this week, that's a big emphasis. Those are the drivers most likely to claim those bonus points.
So we don't need to ride with those drivers because they're the ones remaining for the championship. We should use them because they're the best at tracks like this. You can see illustrations of that in the sheet below.
The races to emphasize most heavily are the 2020 Phoenix race in the track history section and the current form races at Martinsville, Richmond, and New Hampshire. Together, those are the five races on short, flat tracks this season. The other two tracks in the current form section -- Bristol and the first Dover race -- utilized the same rules package, which is why they're in there. However, the banking at those tracks allows us to lower the weight on them and focus on the others.
As always, the number listed is each driver's average running position for that race, not their finish. Keselowski's run from the first Phoenix race shows why we should do this.
In that one, Keselowski got caught up in a wreck early and had to go to the back. However, his car was fast, and he worked his way back to the front, won the second stage, and led 82 laps. He had a great car that day, and his sixth-place average running position reflects that. He just had bad luck with late cautions and finished 11th.
The other data listed is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are listed in fractional form, so Harvick being listed at 3.1 means he's +310 to win.
|Martin Truex, Jr.||$11,500||10||13||4||21||6||4||9||8||11||6||7|
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||$6,500||200||20||21||39||18||12||21||21||22||22||15|
|John Hunter Nemechek||$5,500||200||27||26||20||28||26||24||21||20||25||--|
Based on the data, it should be obvious why we'd be super into both Logano and Keselowski.
Between the two of them, they've had an average running position worse than sixth just twice this year in the five races at short, flat tracks. Both of those were by Keselowski in the two Martinsville races, but he still got top-four finishes in those races. Keselowski's bad luck in the first Phoenix race is the lone time this year one of those two finished outside the top four at one of these tracks.
Among the value options, it's easy to get excited about Tyler Reddick ($7,600). He had a good run going in the first Phoenix race before crashing late. He ranks 15th in my model for the race but will start 21st, giving him a tiny bit of place-differential upside.
You won't get place-differential out of Matt DiBenedetto ($8,700) and Cole Custer ($8,500) with both starting in the top 15, but they should produce enough finishing points to be viable. DiBenedetto has three top-10s on the short, flat tracks this year, and Custer has two (including in the first Phoenix race). You're not going to find a ton of drivers starting much deeper than they'll finish, meaning we can de-emphasize place-differential in this race. Once we do so, it's clear DiBenedetto and Custer deserve to be borderline core plays.