NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Enjoy Illinois 300
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 Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Friday, June 3rd
5:00 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, June 4th
9:00 a.m. EST
A few rarities will occur during NASCAR's inaugural visit to St. Louis with the Cup Series.
One of them is a split practice-qualifying session. Practice will be Friday in the late afternoon, but qualifying won't be until Saturday in the early morning. That will mean a totally different track condition for qualifying that could add a bit of a jumbled element to Sunday's starting order.
The dominant car for the three sister races in this week's median lap time sample (Phoenix, Martinsville, and Darlington) were 6th, 7th, and 1st in terms of single-lap speeds during practice, so once again, keep a keen eye on practice for whoever will be fast.
This is especially true because the competitors and teams have never competed in NASCAR's top series at this 1.2-mile track.
General Lineup Strategy
This race is tiny by Cup Series' standards. Just 300 miles and 240 laps are on the docket for Sunday's event.
However, from a DFS perspective, that's a lap count similar to what we saw at Darlington (267), so we know the gameplan. It's crucial to take one or two -- if not three -- stabs at the dominant car to lead laps and capture some of those 24 FanDuel points for laps led.
Three lap leaders are especially viable since -- as you'll see -- no single driver pops above a 10% chance to win Sunday's race in my colleague Jim Sannes' win simulations. This is a flat track somewhat similar to Phoenix, but it's an entirely different shape with two unique sets of turns. The offset turns element also makes Darlington a fine comparison.
If you've never seen an Xfinity or Truck Series race here, it's flat and hard to pass. We've seen some calamity ensue by cars diving into either set of turns. So, it should be somewhat tough to pass considering NASCAR's elite position protectors will now be racing at it.
As a result, I'm not forcing place-differential points this week, but if they're available, there should be plenty of cautions -- and a desire to grab four tires every time on pit road -- to provide the opportunity to shuffle the field.
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 Phoenix (Spring)
2022 Martinsville (Spring)
2022 Darlington (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.
It is a wild week to build in daily fantasy with no true dominant contender.
Kyle Larson ($14,000) has less than a 6.0% chance to capture this week's checkered flag as the highest-salaried driver in the player pool, per Jim's simulations. This flat style also isn't where we've seen Larson have his world-renown success, either.
I've pegged William Byron ($11,000) at the top after he dominated the race on the short, flat track at Martinsville. He also put together top-seven median lap times at Phoenix and Darlington as other decent sister tracks.
That said, he's much more so a 1A to the 1B of Ross Chastain ($11,500). Because Chastain's Trackhouse Racing team isn't as established, oddsmakers aren't buying into his success, but it's continued for the better part of 2022, including top-five finishes at Phoenix and Martinsville. He also crashed from the lead at Darlington. He should be the highest-salaried driver in the pool on results, but he's not.
Chase Elliott ($12,000) was strong last week, so I'll be interested to see if he carries that speed to Gateway. He led 235 laps at Phoenix and Martinsville inside the sample, too.
At the last totally flat track NASCAR visited, Joey Logano ($10,000) won the Busch Light Clash in the L.A. Coliseum. Considering he also dominated Darlington, he profiles to be a far more potent contender for the win than his salary implies.
Chase Briscoe ($8,500) has flashed race-winning upside multiple times this season, but his spins in an effort to win quelled his results at Bristol -- and almost at Charlotte last week before mayhem ensued. Considering Briscoe led 101 laps and won at Phoenix, you can roster him even if he is starting further towards the front with the expectation of him potentially leading this race.
Without the speed to compete at larger tracks, Aric Almirola ($7,000) has been a hidden gem on short, flat ones the past two seasons. He's kept it rolling in 2022 with a 12th-place effort at Phoenix, followed by 8th at Martinsville and an 11th-place effort at Darlington. His teammate, Kevin Harvick ($8,000), is back on the table with strong runs at Phoenix and Darlington, as well.
With race-winning speed at Martinsville over the longer runs, Austin Dillon ($6,000) is a particularly interesting play this weekend. He also posted a top-10 median lap time at Phoenix.
As far as punts go, Zane Smith ($4,000), Justin Haley ($3,500), and A.J. Allmendinger ($3,500) are under-salaried for their equipment with Xfinity and/or Truck Series experience here at Gateway. It's just not a week where punts are tremendously helpful given there are no consensus favorites at the top.