Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
As our sample in 2021 expands, we get a better read on which teams have the sauce and which do not. Unfortunately, that actually makes things more difficult for this week in NASCAR DFS.
Through the first five races, Stewart-Haas Racing has been out to lunch. Although Kevin Harvick ($14,000 on FanDuel) has four finishes of sixth or better, he has not led since Daytona, and his best average running position is eighth. The rest of SHR has a combined zero top-10 finishes.
Normally, that would mean we could just push them down our list and circle back later on. That's tough in Atlanta.
Harvick has won two of the past three races here and has led at least 116 laps in six of the past seven. The last time he had an average running position worse than fourth was back in 2013 when now-defending champ Chase Elliott ($12,000) was 17 years old. Harvick tends to be the guy to beat here, and he is the current betting favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook.
But current form matters, and Harvick isn't on the same level now that he was then. Entering last year's race, he was the top driver in my model with a projected average running position a full 2.5 spots better than anybody else. This year, he ranks just sixth as the model puts much more weight in current form than track history.
So, do you buy into Harvick, or do you look elsewhere?
The key to answering that question lies in the data, which you can find below. It shows both a driver's current form and track history, things you can blend together to get a realistic expectation for this weekend.
As always, the numbers there are the driver's average running position rather than where they finished. A key example of why comes from the 2019 Atlanta race.
In that one, both Joey Logano ($11,300) and Ryan Blaney ($10,500) had fast cars. Both started outside the top 25, worked their way forward, and led at least 20 laps. They were contenders for the win. But they got trapped a lap down during green-flag pit stops and finished outside the top 20. Their average running positions of ninth and eighth, respectively, better represent their strength than where they finished.
The other data listed is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are in fractional form, so Harvick being listed at 5.5 means he is +550 to win.
|Martin Truex, Jr.||$13,500||6||2||6||7||5||7||4||17||3||4||8|
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||$6,500||100||12||12||15||16||23||19||24||14||17||14|
The Harvick situation is definitely a tough one to dissect. The luxury is that you don't have to use Harvick to get access to great history at Atlanta. You can also get it via the guy with some of the best form on the circuit, Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500).
Truex won last week in Phoenix, which is a plus. But he also had a top-seven average running position in both 2021 races on 1.5-mile tracks. It was a fifth-place mark in Homestead, the best comp we've gotten thus far thanks to the heavy tire wear both there and in Atlanta. Truex has been elite in Atlanta with a top-four average running position each of the past two years. You even get him at a discount to Harvick in both DFS and betting. So we're clearly going to favor Truex over Harvick.
As discussed in this week's track preview, we want to look extra hard for drivers in the $10,000 to $12,000 range with the upside to run up front and lead laps. Being more balanced among our studs can help us jam in a third lap-leader, which is a desirable strategy in a 325-lap race. We've got some good options there.
Two standouts in the $11,000 range are Logano and Denny Hamlin ($11,700). Hamlin's form is solid, and he has two top-fives in Atlanta the past three seasons. Logano hasn't necessarily thrived here, specifically, but he does run well on 1.5-mile tracks and ranks fifth in my model. Hamlin is second (behind Truex), so we should favor Hamlin, but Logano's in play, too.
Blaney grades out well at $10,500, as well. Blaney doesn't tend to excel on tracks with heavy tire wear, but 2019 showed that Atlanta can be an exception. He followed that up with a fourth-place finish in last year's race. He has the upside to lead the race and win at a middling salary, which is hyper attractive in a race of this length.
Penske Racing is relevant for value plays, too. Austin Cindric ($6,200) is starting 39th because he's running a limited schedule, but he is in a Penske car. That means he'll have the speed. Cindric has talent, too, as evidenced by his eight wins in the Xfinity Series since the start of last year. Both he and the Penske-affiliated Matt DiBenedetto ($6,800) provide speed with place-differential upside as DiBenedetto will start 20th.
The other driver worth highlighting for place-differential is Tyler Reddick ($7,500). Reddick mops up at Homestead, and as mentioned, there is an overlap between the two tracks thanks to the tire falloff. Reddick had a top-16 average running position in all five races at high-banked 1.5-mile tracks last year, including a runner-up finish in Texas and an additional top-10 in Charlotte. He'll roll off 29th. Between Cindric, DiBenedetto, Reddick, and a few others, you should have plenty of salary flexibility to jam in three lap-leaders without having to completely punt.