NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
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 discusses 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 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, September 24th
12:30 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, September 24th
1:15 p.m. EST
This weekend's race is back on Sunday, preceded by practice and qualifying sessions that'll take place on Saturday.
This is the one points-paying race of the year at Texas, which has become one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR since its 2017 repave. However, the 1.5-mile track is now notorious for poor racing with very little passing. There's just minimal off-throttle time on the new surface.
As one would expect, immense speed puts a significant priority on current form and speed of the teams. Last year's dominant driver was Kyle Larson with 10 total wins, and he won both races at Texas. However, this year doesn't have quite the same "one to watch" who has separated himself as Larson did.
General Lineup Strategy
With 334 laps on deck (and 33.4 FanDuel points for laps led), we are going to want to target lap leaders. It'll be -- perhaps more than any 1.5-mile track -- vital to daily fantasy success on Sunday.
Larson, last fall's winner, led 256 of the 334 laps a season ago. That was with 11 caution flags and ample opportunities to pass the eventual champion. Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer combined to lead 179 laps in 2020's event, which was interrupted for several days due to rain.
As a result, you could even justify targeting three drivers starting closer to the front so long as they have the potential to lead laps. The one car that separates out front will be a must.
In those two races mentioned, just two drivers started outside the top-15 spots and posted a top-10 finish. There has been plenty of attrition here (8.7 cautions per race since the repave), but it hasn't manifested into value plays ascending into valuable finishing spots.
This track is so fast that speed is absolutely king. Be very receptive to practice and qualifying times from Saturday because chances are the lead cars will stay there more often than not.
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 Kansas (Fall) - 30%
2022 Michigan (Fall) - 30%
2022 Texas All-Star (Spring) - 30%
2022 Charlotte (Spring) - 10%
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 of leading 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.
Just like two weeks ago in Kansas, everything is set up for another favorable race for Toyota.
Bubba Wallace ($9,500) ended up winning for that stable at Kansas, leading 58 laps. Denny Hamlin ($13,500) and Christopher Bell ($12,500) finished right behind them, and those two hold the fastest blend of median lap time rankings in our sample.
It's impossible to not put them first. That group also includes Kyle Busch ($12,000), Martin Truex Jr. ($10,000), and Ty Gibbs ($6,800), but they've been absolutely snakebitten. In the last five races, that trio has combined for eight mechanical failures. They're risky value plays -- but fast ones.
There are still a few Chevrolets and one Ford that could play spoiler. I'll start with the blue oval, and that's Ryan Blaney ($11,500). Blaney led 84 of 140 laps in this year's All-Star Race at this same track and won, so he's got to be in contention by default. I'd love to see fast practice times out of the #12.
Of course, it's hard not to put Kyle Larson ($14,000) in the mix, but I'm leaning out on the reigning race winner entering this one. His 1.5-mile prowess hasn't been nearly what it was last year. He's yet to visit victory lane at one of these tracks, and he's led just 80 total laps. Hamlin's speed has been much better at his salary. The same could be said for Larson's teammate Chase Elliott ($13,000).
Ross Chastain ($10,500) would have been a guy I'd have circled for this race in May after he dominated the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, but Chastain was a non-factor for the win at Kansas. He finished seventh and didn't lead. He could still pop, but it would be more surprising.
Larson's best argument might be the speed teammates William Byron ($11,000) and Alex Bowman ($8,000) showcased at Kansas two weeks ago. Bowman, who finished fourth after leading 107 laps, is especially spicy as a value option. Byron finished second here last fall and has three straight top-eight finishes entering the weekend.
The last Chevy I'd highlight is Tyler Reddick ($8,800), who had the fastest median lap time at Kansas before tire issues. He's now out of the playoffs, but he'll be a factor for trophies from here on out.
We'll largely go back to the same value options we had at Kansas, too. That includes Daniel Suarez ($8,200), who delivered a 10th-place run and led 8 laps. He's a solid option.
Austin Cindric ($7,800) has flashed top-10 speed on these configurations, and he'll need points and good finishes to advance in the playoffs.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($5,800) was running in second place before tire trouble at Kansas. That kind of run was surprising, but he's flashed top-18 median lap times at the last three 1.5-mile tracks. He's got the speed to pay off this salary despite the obvious crash concerns at a track notorious for cautions.
Other top-20 average median lap time rankings in this week's blend include Darlington winner Erik Jones ($7,500), last week's winner Chris Buescher ($7,200), and Brad Keselowski ($6,000). All three led laps in the first round of the playoffs and are peaking as the season comes to a close.