NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: FireKeepers Casino 400
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 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, August 6th
12:35 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, August 6th
1:20 p.m. EST
This weekend's schedule is fairly normal, but it'll be confirmation of what we can already (mostly) predict.
Michigan is the fastest non-drafting oval on the circuit. The qualifying record for an average circuit north of 206 miles per hour by Jeff Gordon in 2014 speaks to that. It's a wide, sweeping 2.0-mile oval.
Since the repave in 2012, passing has been brutally difficult. The track has been too fast to create any off-throttle time or passing opportunities. Exciting races with passing at Fontana, Charlotte, and other banked ovals this season provide some hope that this next-gen can alleviate some of that issue.
Still, equipment is at the utmost premium at this track. This isn't the week to be fooling around with a scrappy underdog because horsepower and aerodynamics will always reign supreme at MIS.
General Lineup Strategy
There are 200 laps (and 20 FanDuel points for laps led) available this weekend, so we'll definitely still need to prioritize finding someone that can lead a lot of them at the front.
That should be no issue. Kyle Larson led 70 laps from the pole last season, and Kevin Harvick led 182 of the total 400 laps in the doubleheader event due to COVID-19 in 2020. Notably, those were the two dominant drivers on non-drafting ovals in those respective seasons, and I'll highlight who fits that bill for 2022 shortly.
In those same three races, 30 cars and teams scored top-10 finishes. Only four of them started outside the top-12 spots. That was a shocking revelation for a track with progressive banking, but the best cars and teams dominate here. Even when the grid was set by points in 2020, those are the best teams in the sport starting up front.
They should start towards the front with qualifying again. If a fast car from practice makes a mistake in time trials and starts closer to the rear, I won't write them off, but otherwise, I'm going to prioritize speed above all when building lineups -- especially with value plays.
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 weighted average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend. The prior races in the sample this week are:
2022 Fontana (Spring) - 25%
2022 Texas All-Star (Spring) - 25%
2022 Charlotte (Spring) - 25%
2022 Pocono (Fall) - 25%
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.
As mentioned, Kyle Larson ($13,000) and Kevin Harvick dominated here in the past two years as the dominant car on non-drafting ovals in those respective seasons. This year, my vote for that car would be Ross Chastain ($12,000), and that's why I'll put him at the top spot.
Chastain led 153 laps in May at Charlotte, and he led 16 laps with a tremendously fast car two weeks ago in Pocono before getting his comeuppance late in the race from Denny Hamlin ($12,500). It's just not overly likely Hamlin walls Chastain again, so the Trackhouse Racing driver should be a contender once again Sunday.
Hamlin could very well be there, too. He crossed the line first at Pocono after the incident despite a disqualification that left him as a poor play on FanDuel. Hamlin leads Jim Sannes' win simulations this weekend, ranks third in my median lap time average rankings, and is a two-time Michigan winner.
However, another speedy effort in Pocono left Kyle Larson as the guy with the fastest average median lap time ranking for this blend of tracks. Larson has had rotten luck most of 2022, which is clearly shown by the six races he's failed to finish if you include the All-Star Race in Texas. He'll likely fly under the radar considering his phenomenal speed and practice times have translated to poor production.
There are three mid-range options that should contend with that trio -- plus Chase Elliott ($14,000) and Kyle Busch ($13,500).
William Byron ($9,500), like his teammate Larson, hasn't been able to piece his speed into results, either. He's second in this blend for median lap time rankings, and he had the fastest median time at the only other 2.0-mile circuit on the schedule in Fontana.
The other two are Tyler Reddick ($11,500) and Christopher Bell ($10,000), who are tied for fifth in the median rankings, but Reddick has put pen to paper more often on this style of track. He led 90 laps in Fontana and finished 2nd at Pocono. It's fair to squash his "lame duck" narrative with two wins in the last four weeks, as well.
My highest-rostered driver come Sunday may be Daniel Suarez ($9,000). In the same equipment as Chastain, he finished second in Fontana, third in Pocono, and led 36 laps in Charlotte. Even from the front, he could win and dominate this race.
Erik Jones ($8,000) finally has an appropriate salary for his speed on these bigger tracks. He had the eighth-fasted median lap time at Pocono and finished ninth. His team likely sees Michigan as one of its best shots to win and make the playoffs.
Even with minimal experience, I think it's fair to turn to youngsters Ty Gibbs ($7,500) and Austin Hill ($5,500) if they show speed in practice. Gibbs is in the same equipment as Hamlin driving for his team, and Hill will share notes with Reddick. Their lack of experience will mean less than their rock-solid vehicles.
Other top-20 median lap time average rankings in the value tier include Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,500), Chase Briscoe ($6,500), and Chris Buescher ($6,200), but be open to any driver in the rankings that pops with a quick single-lap or 10-lap average speed in practice.