Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: Buschy McBusch Race 400
Last week at Talladega, we were wondering if there'd be enough good cars starting in the back to deploy our typical stack-the-back strategy for DFS
This week, all the good drivers are back there. It's making my head spin.
The four most likely winners, based on my win simulations, are all starting 15th or lower. That includes the guy topping those win sims, Kyle Larson, who is starting in 32nd.
Dipping lower, five of the top 12 drivers in my win simulations are starting 20th or lower. It's not just Larson primed to bask in place differential. We've got plentiful options there, to the point where it's almost overwhelming.
The reason we can't just load up on those starting further back is that Sunday's race actually is decently long. The Buschy McBusch Race 400 is 267 laps long, leaving us 26.7 FanDuel points available for laps led. If we just stack the back, we're giving the nah wave to a good chunk of those.
Is that opportunity cost enough to make us pass up the drivers starting further back? Or can we play Sunday's race similar to one at a pack track? Let's dig in and figure out our optimal strategy for this week.
Looking for Similar Situations
The starting order is so jacked up this week because it's the week after a superspeedway. The high-variance nature there leads to poor finishes for good drivers, and that finishing position is part of the equation for setting the lineup.
As such, if we're looking for comps, the best place to start would be the race following a superspeedway race since we shifted to this format for qualifying. The next race would preferably be one with more than 250 laps so that there actually is a sacrifice in passing up laps led.
Unfortunately, that leaves us with basically just one similar race. The race after last year's playoff rendition at Talladega was the Charlotte roval, one of the shorter races of the year. There, we know we want to scoop place-differential options.
Instead, we can look at the playoff race at Darlington. It's not a direct comp because the playoff drivers occupied the top 16 spots, but it still showed the value of selling out for place-differential.
Of the five drivers in the perfect lineup, two started 30th or lower. One of them -- Erik Jones -- did that despite a $10,500 salary. There was an opportunity cost in using Jones, but he still wiggled his way into the optimal.
Even the Darlington race, though, leaves something to be desired. Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the race and led a combined 310 laps, but both finished 20th or lower after late contact while fighting for the win. That could happen again this week, but it's not the baseline expectation for how the race will break.
As a result, our best comp isn't going to come from this format for setting the starting grid. Instead, we want to take a trip back to 2019 and -- coincidentally -- the first race at Kansas.
They had qualifying for that race, and after qualifying was inspection. Drivers who failed inspection had their qualifying time vacated and started in the back. Four of the top 10 drivers in my model for that race did fail inspection, giving us a perfect replica to look at. Two of those four wound up in the perfect lineup for the race.
|Perfect Lineup||Salary||Start||Laps Led|
Jamming in all three studs was aided by Tyler Reddick's surprise performance, but that lineup also was $2,100 under the salary cap. It's a decently realistic build, even if it is a bit top-heavy.
That lineup shows us the value of the drivers starting further back. If Larson gets the place-differential points for moving from 32nd to 5th, that's equivalent to 135 laps led. He has the potential to exceed that and even lead laps himself. This makes Larson a staple for both cash games and tournaments.
That perfect lineup, though, also shows the value of competitive drivers starting near the front.
With some studs mired in the back, there's less competition up front for early laps led. Brad Keselowski and Alex Bowman took advantage in that race, and they actually finished in the top two spots, as well. If you have a high opinion of a driver up front, there's value in using them and hoping they're the driver who leads laps early while your place-differential options work their way forward.
This is true for the mid-range plays, too. That's what Bowman was entering the race, but he had the speed necessary to almost get what would have been his first career win. Bowman's teammate, William Byron, fits this mold with a $9,500 salary, a second-place starting spot, and 6.1% win odds in my simulations. Christopher Bell is another guy worth considering with this in mind.
The overall takeaway here is that you have options. The one almost certainty is Larson in the back of the pack, but for most other drivers, you have flexibility to shoot for either laps led or place-differential.
On weeks like this, it really comes down to how you evaluate the drivers. If you think someone starting 15th has the speed to win the race, the appeal in them remains high. If you think someone at the front is bound to dominate, then you should plug them in. There really isn't a driver on this slate who is out of consideration as long as you think they've got the ponies to push for a win (or a top-10 if they're a value). We should certainly favor drivers starting further back due to the high floor and ceiling they provide, but this is an evaluation-heavy race, and we should be looking to take advantage.