Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship
It brings me great pleasure to type this: this post will be updated.
That's right, brave comrades. With the NASCAR Cup Series Championship in Phoenix this weekend, we finally get practice and qualifying once again. We've already got good data to run with, but it's going to get even better.
What a sweet, sweet gift before we drift into the offseason.
The lone practice session this weekend will be at 4 pm Eastern on Friday. Qualifying is at 7 pm on Saturday. I'll swing back in here and update with that data once it's available. (UPDATE: The starting order and data from the lone practice session have since been added to the sheet.)
For now, though, we have plenty of other numbers to look at, and they should give us a good idea of who will be fast on Sunday.
The data sheet below lists out the current form and track history of each driver in the field. The current form section revolves around flatter tracks that have utilized the 750-horsepower package. The Nashville race was at a larger, faster track, so I'm downplaying that one relative to the others.
The key segment for me is the short, flat tracks, a group of six races that should tell us who will run well. Those are the two races at Martinsville and Richmond in addition the first Phoenix race and New Hampshire. Martinsville is the least helpful of that group, but all can point us in the right direction.
As always, the data listed is each driver's average running position rather than their finish. Last week in Martinsville, Chase Elliott ($14,000 on FanDuel) led more than half the laps and had a third-place average running position. Late contact with Brad Keselowski ($9,800), though, damaged Elliott's car and led to a 16th-place finish. His speed was much better than the finish indicates.
The other data listed is each driver's FanDuel salary and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are in fractional form, so Elliott's being listed at 3.8 means he's +380 to win.
|Martin Truex Jr.||$13,000||4.9||12||18||17||4||7||20||19||4||4||6||13||11||6||7|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,200||200||21||23||16||16||19||16||6||18||19||12||22||22||22||15|
Clearly, all four of the championship contenders -- the four with the highest salaries -- are great for DFS this week. Those four have led more laps on short tracks this year than any other driver in the sport. But what's interesting is that the Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Denny Hamlin ($13,500) and Martin Truex Jr. ($13,000) -- despite having lower salaries and longer odds than Elliott and Kyle Larson ($14,500) -- have been the class of the field on short, flat tracks.
Across the six races on those tracks, Hamlin has the best aggregate average running position in the entire sport. Here's where the championship four rate in that category.
|Martin Truex Jr.||7.5|
It's worth noting that Larson's mark is misleading. His average running position got dragged down due to penalties (three of them, in fact) during the first Phoenix race, and he's admittedly not great in Martinsville. But even in the other three races, his best average running position was eighth. Hamlin's worst mark is 11th.
I want to weigh in practice data when looking at this group. Hendrick Motorsports has (for the most part) known Larson would be in this race since September, so they've had time to gain speed in the rules package. Plus, Elliott won here last year and was great in both Martinsville and Richmond during the playoffs. But before practice, I'm fine giving slight preference to Hamlin and Truex.
If we want to jam in two of those championship drivers per lineup -- my preferred attack this week -- we'll need value. Two guys who can give us that are Ross Chastain ($7,500) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,200).
Chastain has had loads of speed on the flat tracks the second half of the year. The surge started in Nashville when he finished second to Larson. He then had top-10 average running positions and top-10 finishes in New Hampshire and Richmond to legitimize the run. This is the final race in the Cup Series for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Chastain has a good shot to send them out on a high note.
As for Stenhouse, he also ran well in Nashville and has strong marks elsewhere. He had a 12th-place average running position in the first Phoenix race and finished 12th, as well. He finished 15th in New Hampshire. Before practice, Stenhouse ranks 18th in my model's projected average running position. The next-best mark for a driver with a salary lower than $6,800 is Cole Custer ($6,000) in 22nd. Stenhouse benefits from a track where crashes are less frequent, and the Phoenix championship race fits in that bucket.