NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: South Point 400

Denny Hamlin has been the most consistent driver on 1.5-mile tracks all season. Which other cars and teams can challenge him for a win in Sin City?

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 South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on FanDuel.

Weekend Primer

Event Time
Practice Saturday, October 15th
12:00 p.m. EST
Qualifying Saturday, October 15th
12:45 p.m. EST

Once the standard in NASCAR, this is the second of a three-in-five run at 1.5-mile tracks in the playoffs, and it's pretty wide open if previous races are any indication.

Now, nearing the end of the first year for the Next-Gen car, we have significant data at multi-groove, 1.5-mile tracks with moderate tire wear -- and they've been fun.

The last one was in Kansas, and we once again saw practice speeds prove to be valuable. Tyler Reddick was fastest in practice, won the pole, and likely would have won the race if he not for a tire issue and subsequent crash. Bubba Wallace ended up winning it, and he was fourth in practice.

Though we have a good idea of who should be fast now, feel free to go hard at guys who show speed in practice and qualifying on Saturday morning. This race will be at 11 a.m. local in Las Vegas, so it's no longer a day-to-night transition as it was in prior years.

General Lineup Strategy

At 1.5-mile tracks, there's a very standard strategy.

We definitely need laps-led points (26.7 of them available) among cars that should control a bulk of the 267 laps. The race three weeks ago in Kansas was a great example. Alex Bowman led 107 laps, and race winner Bubba Wallace led a good chunk of the final stage (58 laps).

However, these tracks have been racy. There's been plenty of passing, so I'd love to target value plays and cars that will be fast starting further back due to a mishap in qualifying.

There's not a clear top-shelf consensus on a group of cars that will dominate this race, so I am defaulting to more of a balanced build on FanDuel. I'd rather have three -- and sometimes four -- swipes at who the dominant cars will be. Wallace and Bowman weren't extremely high on the list of candidates back at Kansas.

Driver Rankings

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) - 40%
2022 Texas (Fall) - 25%
2022 Las Vegas (Spring) - 20%
2022 Kansas (Spring) - 15%

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 of potentially finishing 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.

Driver Sannes'

1 Denny
14.10% 1 10 10
2 Ross
10.22% 5 9 10
3 William
8.52% 2 8 10
4 Kyle
9.72% 7 8 10
5 Christopher
6.70% 8 8 10
6 Tyler
3.86% 4 8 10
7 Chase
5.52% 9 7 9
8 Ryan
5.84% 6 7 9
9 Martin
Truex, Jr.
7.86% 3 7 9
10 Joey
7.78% 10 6 9
11 Bubba
2.40% 11 6 9
12 Kyle
5.18% 18 5 8
13 Daniel
1.54% 16 4 8
14 Kevin
1.70% 13 3 8
15 Erik
2.12% 23 2 8
16 Austin
0.98% 14 1 7
17 Ricky
Stenhouse, Jr.
0.56% 17 0 7
18 Brad
0.46% 15 0 6
19 Austin
1.22% 20 0 6
20 Ty
0.36% 31 0 6
21 Michael
0.68% 19 0 5
22 Chase
0.44% 21 0 5
23 Chris
0.38% 22 0 4
24 A.J.
0.04% 36 0 3
25 Justin
0.02% 24 0 3
26 Cole
0.04% 29 0 2
27 Aric
0.10% 25 0 1
28 Ty
0.06% 26 0 0
29 Corey
0.02% 27 0 0
30 Todd
0.02% 30 0 0

I'll really have a keen eye on one guy in practice -- Denny Hamlin ($14,000).

Hamlin is by far the top candidate to win this race. Although in a different car, he was last year's winner at Las Vegas. He's got the fastest average median lap time ranking, and he tops Jim Sannes' win simulations this week. If he's fast in practice, I'll probably hop aboard the FedEx freight train.

However, we've seen others pop at 1.5-milers all year. I've put Ross Chastain ($11,500) second because he's shown the speed to lead at this style of track (153 laps at Charlotte in May), but it's been a while. Perhaps the site of Chastain's first Xfinity Series win gets him going. He led 83 laps here in March.

William Byron ($11,000) has been steady, but he led just nine laps and finished sixth back at Kansas. I'd like to see more to back up his second-place average median lap time ranking in this week's blend.

Rounding out this top tier are Kyle Larson ($13,000), Christopher Bell ($12,500), and Tyler Reddick ($12,000). All three have led 1.5-mile tracks this year, and Reddick won at Texas. The top-eight average median lap time rankings show they've got potential.

This has largely been the worst track type for Chase Elliott ($13,500) all season, and an 11th-place run at Kansas didn't change that. He also crashed in Texas. I will need to see a lot in practice to get there.

Teammates or satellite cars of our top contenders are also my favorite mid-range plays. Bubba Wallace ($9,000) got the job done in Kansas using notes from his car owner, Hamlin. He's live to do it again here.

In that same vein, Daniel Suarez ($7,500) has been solid as the team car to Chastain, posting 10th- and 12th-place finishes in the two 1.5-mile playoff races so far.

Jim's simulations (shocker) love Erik Jones ($7,000), and I'm right there. Jones had the ninth-best median lap time at Vegas in March. I'm split from Jim on Michael McDowell ($5,200). He's fine on this track type, but with a 19th-best median sample for McDowell, more often than not there's no ceiling.

In a team car to Wallace, Ty Gibbs ($6,000) is the best value play on the board by a mile. It's looking more and more like Gibbs will be full-time in the Cup Series in 2023, so he'll start to take these efforts more seriously.

We'll see if Noah Gragson is added to the player pool this weekend in a fast car. He's replacing Alex Bowman ($8,500) again, so expect a similar salary. Now out of the playoffs, Bowman is out for the year with a concussion.

Other value plays with top-20 average median lap time rankings in this week's sample are Austin Cindric ($7,200), Austin Dillon ($7,000), Brad Keselowski ($6,500), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($5,000). I'll likely end up ranking and deploying those four in order of practice times.