Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Coca-Cola 600
We're getting spoiled right now. We just have to make sure we don't get too used to it.
For the second consecutive week, the NASCAR Cup Series will hold practice and qualifying sessions prior to the race. This time, it's because they're running a crown-jewel event in the Coca-Cola 600.
After this week, we go back to the COVID-era rules of no on-track time before the green flag, but it's a good time to stop and smell the roses before we crawl back into those shells.
As a result of the schedule, our data for the race is currently incomplete. I'll circle back to this post Saturday morning (practice is Friday night) to add in single-lap and multi-lap averages for each driver. That's good data to have, but we have to be careful not to over-emphasize it. (UPDATE: Starting positions and practice times have been added to the sheet below.)
Prior to the 2019 Coca-Cola 600, there were three practice sessions. Despite that, the current-form section of my model still outperformed the practice section in predicting both average running position and finish. We've got just one practice worth of data this week. So, again, I'll add practice data once we've got it, but we shouldn't hold it up as being the holy grail.
Speaking of current form, that data is in the sheet below. The key races to emphasize are those at Kansas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Homestead. Those are the four races this year at non-drafting tracks that have used the 550-horsepower package. Because Atlanta and Homestead have heavy tire wear (while Charlotte does not), the two standout races to key in on are Vegas and Kansas. The Texas race in the current form section was last year, meaning we need to account for drivers who have switched teams, but the similarities between Texas and Charlotte do still make it a worthwhile race to check out.
The track history section reaches back into 2018, so an even bigger caveat for drivers changing teams is necessary there. Ross Chastain ($6,000 on FanDuel) hasn't raced at Charlotte in competitive equipment yet, unless you count his race for Spire Motorsports last year in a car that was prepared by his current team, Chip Ganassi Racing. Daniel Suarez ($5,500) ran last year's races in a back-marker car but has been much more feisty this year. If you see big deviations between the current form and the track history, you should always value the current form more.
As always, the numbers on the sheet are each driver's average running position rather than their finish. In last year's Coca-Cola 600, Alex Bowman ($10,000) led 164 laps and won the opening two stages. He had issues at the end, though, and finished 19th. His fourth-place average running position is a much better indicator of the speed he had during the race.
The other numbers listed are each driver's FanDuel salary and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The odds are listed in fractional form, so Martin Truex Jr. ($14,500) being listed at 5.5 means he's +550 to win.
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$7,700||125||2||8||2||23||19||14||15||16||19||11||23||11||14|
|Martin Truex Jr.||$14,500||5.5||8||14||12||1||9||9||7||5||4||18||3||6||7|
The data should make it pretty obvious why Kyle Larson ($14,000) is the betting favorite this week. He has been untouchable at the 1.5-mile tracks this year.
Larson has had a top-five average running position in all four races. Nobody else has accomplished that feat more than twice. His 509 laps led best the rest of the circuit by 363 laps. It has resulted in just one win, but with the importance we need to place on laps led this week, Larson is a drool-worthy option.
One driver whose practice times might matter more than others' this week is Chris Buescher ($6,500). Buescher had a top-10 average running position in both Homestead and Atlanta. However, at the lower-wear tracks, his average running positions were 18th and 17th. If Buescher skews closer to his Homestead and Atlanta marks in practice, then he'll be crazy tempting at such a low salary. We do kind of need him to prove it, though, given the key differences between those tracks and Charlotte.
The other driver who might be under-salaried prior to practice is Austin Dillon ($8,500). Dillon ranks ninth in aggregate average running position on 1.5-mile tracks this year, and he had a top-nine average running position in both Charlotte races last year. Add in his win at a similar track in Texas, and you can see why we might not want to cross Dillon off our list even if he does happen to qualify near the top of the charts.