Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Quaker State 400
We're finally at the point in the NASCAR Cup Series season where we've got enough data to be picky. We can be selective in emphasizing some races while de-prioritizing others.
It's a beautiful spot to be.
Sunday's Quaker State 400 in Atlanta will be the eighth race at a non-drafting track to use the 550-horsepower package. We can look at those previous seven races together to get a broad idea of who will be fast this weekend.
We can also be more specific and narrow it down to the five races at 1.5-mile tracks. This lops off Pocono, which is a different beast and likely makes our comprehension a smidge better.
But we can do even better than that. Atlanta will be the fourth time this year the Cup Series has raced at a 1.5-mile track with heavy tire falloff. That includes a previous stop at this very same track back in March.
Once we start broad and then narrow our scope down to this level, we're going to have a good idea of who will be fast on Sunday, even without practice or qualifying times to lean on. That's a good thing because we're going to need that knowledge.
As discussed in this week's track preview, we need to identify studs who can lead laps and value plays who can finish well regardless of where they're starting. This may force us to roster lower-salaried drivers starting near the front, a nerve-racking endeavor given the value of place-differential points but a necessary one for this week. Both of those things can be determined by digging into what has happened so far in 2021.
The data sheet below should give you a good start in this trek.
Listed are all of the races discussed above, zeroing in exclusively on the non-drafting 550-horsepower races during the year. All seven of those are listed with the first Atlanta race falling under the "track history" section. The three races at 1.5-mile tracks with heavy tire wear are Atlanta, Kansas, and Homestead, and those three races will be our biggest tells for who will be fast on Sunday.
As always, the numbers listed are each driver's average running position rather than their finish. A good illustrator for why comes from Ryan Blaney ($10,500 on FanDuel) at Kansas.
There, Blaney was restarting on the front row with two laps to go. Kyle Larson ($14,500) attempted to push Blaney in front of Kyle Busch ($13,000), but the bump sent both drivers to the back.
Y'ALL ... THAT WAS AWESOME. Wow.
Rate Ryan @Blaney's incredible save on a scale of 1-12: pic.twitter.com/Ba4exOgiKf
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 2, 2021
Blaney's 21st-place finish doesn't show how fast he was there; his eighth-place average running position does.
The other data listed is each driver's FanDuel salary, win odds at NASCAR odds, and starting position. The win odds are in fractional form, so Larson being listed at 2.6 means he's +260 to win.
|Martin Truex Jr.||$12,500||12||5||9||14||14||9||7||5||9||3||4|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,000||150||16||19||20||12||19||15||16||14||14||17|
The average running positions make it abundantly obvious why Larson's win odds are so short.
Larson has two first-place average running positions in the 550-horsepower races this year. Nobody else even has even a second-place mark. He led 269 of 325 laps in the first Atlanta race only to lose the lead to Blaney late and finish second. My simulations have Larson winning 20.3% of the time, so while I can't bet him at +260, I can absolutely load up on him as a lap-leader on FanDuel.
Other drivers who deserve a bump up thanks to performance on the heavy tire falloff tracks are Alex Bowman ($11,000), Chris Buescher ($7,300), and Tyler Reddick ($7,200). Bowman finished third in the first Atlanta race, a run legitimized by a fifth-place average running position. He also has recent wins in Richmond and Fontana, and he nearly won in Kansas back in 2019, and all of those tracks feature heavy tire falloff. He's a solid outlet if you're looking for a combination of place-differential and race-winning upside.
Buescher's best runs this year have come on tracks like this. He had a 10th-place average running position in Homestead -- and actually won a stage -- and finished seventh in the first Atlanta race. He also had top-13 average running positions in Darlington and Bristol, both of which were slick tracks, whether due to tire falloff or dirt.
Reddick is well-known for mopping up in Homestead, and he rallied late to finish second there back in the spring. He turned a 10th-place average running position in Kansas into a seventh-place finish, as well. Reddick carries risk because he'll start seventh, but with minimal obvious place-differential options among the values, Reddick's finishing upside makes him someone we should still roster in tournaments.