NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: NASCAR All-Star Race
If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, though!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, May 21st
5:00 p.m. EST
|Special Format Qualifying||Saturday, May 21st
5:35 p.m. EST
|All-Star Open||Sunday, May 22nd
5:00 p.m. EST
This format is incredibly unique and fun to watch from a viewer's perspective, but DFS takeaways are rather simple.
Practice -- as usual -- will be the most useful speed-indication tool we're given this weekend. This is the first 1.5-mile track of the season without significant tire wear, so even our closest comparisons aren't perfect.
Qualifying will be a special unique format that features head-to-head pit stops as part of the starting order determination. That means -- less so than other weeks -- qualifying won't be as efficient as putting the fastest cars up front. This whole weekend is designed for pit-crew intervention.
There are also two key wrinkles to the race. There will be unique rules that allow the three different stage winners to start in the top-three spots for the final stage so long as they don't "sandbag" in any of the following stages. They've got to finish better than 15th. It could get confusing if a driver wins multiple stages, but what's important above all for DFS -- there won't be inversions of the field to shuffle laps led.
Also, there will be four drivers advancing from the last-chance qualifier on Sunday. Those drivers won't be included in the FanDuel player pool, but they could deny finishing points or laps led to a driver that is.
General Lineup Strategy
Last fall's glimpse into Texas Motor Speedway makes this year's All-Star Race strategy very different than years past.
Kyle Larson and William Byron led 311 of 334 laps as a tandem. Based on median lap time, they weren't that dominant. It was just brutal to pass under green flag conditions because Texas is an incredibly fast track with no tire wear since its 2017 repave.
However, that was in a different car. Last year's All-Star Race had an altered aerodynamic package from even that fall race. This year, NASCAR is bringing the normal 2022 next-gen car this week with no adjustments.
That could provide a better race, but my guess is that track position will be still all-important. Because of the unique rules, those with track position at the start will even get to start with it in the stage that will determine finishing points.
It might be the first time my general strategy will be to "stack the front" to get early-stage winners and lap leaders.
There is a risk to that given there are no points on the line, so there's always the potential that this race gets a little wild. Still, if you're going to win a tournament, you're going to need lap leaders, the winner, and several other top finishers.
More likely than not, those guys will start towards the front in the final stage. 50 laps is just not a long period of time to make passes at Texas.
Below are my pre-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, track history, recent form, and overall talent level -- in that order. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in Jim Sannes' win simulations were included.
As a great indicator of overall speed, MLT Rank is the driver's average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend's. The prior races in the sample this week are:
2022 Las Vegas (Spring)
2022 Kansas (Spring)
2022 Atlanta (Spring)
For dominator viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to potentially lead laps and win the race if they start upfront. A "10" is among the favorites to win the race, and a "0" has no realistic chance to lead the race at any point.
For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to finish in terms of potential to finish inside the top-15 spots. These drivers will be better daily fantasy plays the further back in the field they start for optimal place-differential points.
My blend of tracks this week are the two tire-wear-laden 1.5-mile tracks we've seen in 2022 thus far and Atlanta. Atlanta's a great comparison to Texas as a fast, smooth 1.5-mile oval, but it's worth noting they did run a drafting-oval package there. This week's package will be the same as last week's in Kansas.
When I blend those, Martin Truex Jr. ($11,500) shoots straight to the top. Truex had the fastest median lap time in Las Vegas, was fifth last week in Kansas, and was fifth in Atlanta. By just about any measure, he should be fast on Sunday. Truex is a 12-time winner on 1.5-mile tracks and has more stage wins than any driver in Cup Series history (52). This format could be right up his alley for a first career All-Star win.
Toyota, Toyota, and more Toyota is my disposition entering the weekend. All six Toyotas posted a top-nine median lap time last weekend in Kansas. In terms of raw speed at this track type, no organization is close at the moment. That brings Kyle Busch ($12,500), Denny Hamlin ($10,500), Christopher Bell ($9,000), Kurt Busch ($8,000), and even Bubba Wallace ($6,000) above their peers in their respective salary ranges.
Don't sleep on Wallace out of that crowd. He qualified for the All-Star Race via the last-chance race in 2019 at Charlotte and last year here in Texas. He's a great restart driver with the speed to even contend for the win at the moment. He rallied from the back to a top-10 finish at Kansas last week, and the 9th-best median time shows it's no fluke.
Kyle Larson ($13,500) had a chance to win last week at Kansas, so many will likely jump back onto 2021's All-Star Race winner. However, all is still not well compared to Larson's dominant form a season ago. He's done well to maximize his speed for finishes, but he's still yet to post a top-five median lap time on a 1.5-mile track. That's crazy after he led 1,317 laps on 1.5-mile tracks last season.
The other standout in the value tier this week is Austin Cindric ($7,000). Cindric finished 11th last week in Kansas with the 11th-fastest median lap time. His teammate, Ryan Blaney ($10,000), has also flashed big-time speed on 1.5-mile tracks this year including Atlanta. Cindric finished top-five in each of the last five Xfinity Series races here at Texas, headlined by a win in 2020.