Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: Bank of America ROVAL 400

The NASCAR Cup Series wraps up the Round of 12 Sunday at the Charlotte roval. How do the playoffs and the length of the race impact our approach for NASCAR DFS?

There are just a couple teenie tiny differences between Talladega and the Charlotte roval.

One is the fastest track on the circuit; the other is a heavy-braker's delight. One keeps cars from going below a yellow line; the other encourages them to jump curbs and take flight.

But from a DFS perspective, a lot of our mindset is the same.

With just 109 laps scheduled for Sunday's Bank of America ROVAL 400, we've got 10.9 FanDuel points available for laps led. That's one of the lower marks all year, and it does limit the upside for drivers starting at the front.

As such, we have an incentive to soak up place-differential points if we can find them. The finishing order won't be as random here as it typically is on a superspeedway, but in a vacuum, the highest-upside plays will be the ones starting further back. We just have to know how to balance that with the playoff drivers starting up front.

We can get a read on that by looking back at last year's playoff race at the roval and seeing how things played out there. Then we'll apply that to this week's starting order and see what the optimal strategies are for Sunday's race.

Accept Place-Differential Where You Find It

For both last year's playoff race and this year's, the 12 drivers remaining in the playoffs occupied the top 12 spots in the starting order. These are typically the drivers most likely to win, making them desirable for finishing points.

Even with that, the perfect lineup in last year's race still had four non-playoff drivers in it.

Perfect LineupSalaryStartLaps Led
Ryan Blaney$12,000 24th14
Joey Logano$11,800 8th0
William Byron$9,700 13th27
Erik Jones$8,000 14th1
Cole Custer$7,300 28th0

William Byron and Erik Jones both started right behind the playoff drivers, so this is largely a technicality, but there were plenty of place-differential points to be had.

That's likely to be true again this week thanks to the way the starting order broke. Five of the top 17 drivers in my model's projected average running position will start in the back half of the field. Four of them will start outside the top 25. We know we want drivers like that in these types of races, and last year showed the efficacy of it. We should take advantage and lean on those drivers as our core plays for tournaments.

That's not to say we should ignore the front. Even last year's race may undersell the viability of playoff drivers.

Last year's roval race was one of just a few since FanDuel started offering contests where the winning driver wasn't in the perfect lineup. Even in these shorter races, the 43 points for a win typically are enough to boost that driver over the top.

Additionally, the presence of Byron and Jones just behind the playoff group shows we don't need to sell our souls for place-differential. We should just accept it when it's available to us. That could mean using two playoff drivers, or it could mean just one. Either way, seeing just one make the list last year shouldn't corner us into thinking that's the only way to play things this weekend.

The other reason to still roster drivers starting near the front is that's where we find our two most likely winners. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott both have win odds in excess of 16%, according to my simulations. Even if Elliott didn't make it in his win last year, they're likely to wind up in the perfect lineup if they win this year. As such, the odds one of those guys winds up in the perfect lineup are very high, so we can't just ignore them.

That's why I'm likely going to play things similar to last week: I'll pick my assumed winner, and then I'll accept place-differential where I find it with the other four slots.

If that mindset leads to rostering two playoff drivers, I'm fine with it. It very well could at times, too. But with this approach, our core plays will be those starting in the back half of the field who are positioned to run well.

This is a situation where our optimal approach just happens to align well with how the starting grid broke. We want place-differential, and the starting order gave it to us. Although we don't want to completely ignore the front, we should take advantage of this convergence and lean heavily on drivers we think will finish better than where they're starting on Sunday.