Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: South Point 400

The NASCAR Cup Series starts the Round of 12 on Sunday in Las Vegas with the South Point 400. How should we tweak our NASCAR DFS approach to account for the second round?

You'd think with the NASCAR Cup Series leaving the short tracks and the Round of 16 in the past, we'd be able to focus on place-differential once again.

After all, Sunday's South Point 400 in Las Vegas is 267 laps long, just more than half of what they ran last week. Additionally, with four playoff drivers lopped off, there's a better chance we get more viable drivers starting deeper in the pack.

That's true in theory. In reality, though, our rosters are still going to look a little top-heavy. Let's dig into the logistics around Sunday's race and outline why that's the case.

Speed at the Front

With Vegas marking the start of the Round of 12, the 12 remaining playoff contenders are starting in the top 12 spots. Not shockingly, those are still the fastest drivers.

All 12 of the playoff drivers rank inside the top 15 of my model's projected average running position. The highest-ranked non-playoff driver -- Austin Dillon -- is 11th. So the drivers most likely to lead laps and get good finishes are still at the front.

And those things do matter this week. Although 267 laps is shorter, it's still 26.7 FanDuel points for laps led. That's a meaningful bump you'll want on your roster.

That's why our baseline should be jamming at least two playoff drivers into each lineup. We need two lap-leaders, and those lap-leaders are very likely to come from the front.

That's what worked in last year's perfect lineup. Even with four of the top 10 finishers being non-playoff drivers, there were still two playoff drivers who wound up in the perfect FanDuel lineup.

Perfect LineupSalaryStartLaps Led
Denny Hamlin$13,300 10th121
Ryan Blaney$11,500 15th1
Kurt Busch$9,300 9th29
Matt DiBenedetto$8,500 19th8
Chris Buescher$6,000 16th10

That's why setting our baseline as two playoff drivers works. It makes sense in theory, and it has played out that way in practice.

With that said, I don't think tossing in a third playoff driver is a bad idea, at least at times.

Part of the reason last year's lineup had just two playoff drivers is that Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto had big speed but hadn't advanced to the Round of 12. Blaney entered the week ranked fourth in my model's projected average running position, and DiBenedetto had finished runner-up in the spring Las Vegas race that year. You had quality plays outside of the playoffs.

As mentioned before, that's not as true here. Kurt Busch has the highest win odds for any non-playoff driver in my simulations, and he's at 2.8%. Dillon and Tyler Reddick are right there, too, but playoff drivers suck up 88.7% of the win odds. Most of the fast drivers are at the front.

That's not enough to make a three-playoff-driver build the default as there aren't enough laps for that, but it does make it an option. It's something we should at least filter in while multi-entering.

There is some place-differential upside to be had via the values, though it's nothing outrageous. Busch is starting 20th, so having 2.8% win odds from there is non-negligible. Chris Buescher ranks 16th in my model and will start 25th. Those guys can work.

In other words, I wouldn't necessarily use last year's playoff Las Vegas race as a strict blueprint. This is a different race with more of the win odds concentrated among the playoff drivers and somewhat enticing plays starting just outside the top 20. It's also not as extreme as last week where we needed upside via either laps led or place-differential.

It's a good week to just prioritize good finishes, no matter where they come from. If that means you have to fit in three playoff drivers, you can make that work. If that means setting for two so that you don't have to dive as deep in the bargain bin, that can also get the job done. With speed going up and lap counts going down this week, the importance of finishing position increases, and we should account for that with our builds.