NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Xfinity 500

A second Martinsville win this season would punch William Byron's ticket into next week's championship race. Which other drivers should we target on FanDuel?

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 Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on FanDuel.

Weekend Primer

Event Time
Practice Saturday, October 29th
10:00 a.m. EST
Qualifying Saturday, October 29th
10:45 a.m. EST

It's been since July since the Cup Series raced on a short, flat oval. Now, two in a row will decide the championship. Surprise!

This race could be a clunker if the spring race at Martinsville was any indication. Historically, this half-mile paper clip was a full-contact, all-action short track, but the first race in the next-gen car was a snoozer where drivers couldn't pass whatsoever. It was almost like a Formula 1 race.

Even though NASCAR has promised changes made since that event, it could be very difficult to pass on Sunday, and that will change our strategy a little bit versus usual.

General Lineup Strategy

There are 500 laps in this race (and therefore 50.0 FanDuel points for laps led), so we'll want to target a good chunk of those in our lineups.

Normally, my colleague Jim Sannes accepts a "waves" approach where you could target a driver (or two) from the front that could lead laps, and then, you can target one (or two) drivers starting deeper in the field to lead laps later.

However, teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron combined to lead 397 of 403 laps from the 1st and 5th starting spots back in April. If you're bearish on NASCAR's changes actually working, it could be a tournament-winning strategy to target two or three drivers starting inside the top-five spots.

We'll find the best candidates in practice. Elliott and Byron were both inside the top-four positions on the 10-lap average charts in warmups. That information will be as good as gold.

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 Martinsville (Spring) - 50%
2022 New Hampshire (Fall) - 25%
2022 Gateway (Spring) - 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 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 MLT

1 Chase
3 15.54% 10 10
2 Joey
1 13.64% 10 10
3 William
2 7.34% 10 10
4 Ryan
5 12.26% 9 10
5 Martin
Truex, Jr.
8 11.54% 9 10
6 Christopher
4 5.02% 8 10
7 Denny
22 4.64% 7 10
8 Kyle
6 5.32% 6 10
9 Kyle
13 5.36% 5 9
10 Ross
7 5.02% 5 9
11 Kevin
9 4.90% 4 8
12 Austin
11 0.90% 3 8
13 Aric
12 2.04% 2 8
14 Bubba
17 0.82% 1 7
15 Noah
34 0.94% 1 7
16 Tyler
15 0.60% 1 7
17 Brad
16 0.68% 0 6
18 Austin
10 0.36% 0 6
19 A.J.
18 0.10% 0 5
20 Chase
13 0.84% 0 5
21 Chris
26 0.94% 0 4
22 Erik
18 0.18% 0 4
23 Ty
34 0.18% 0 4
24 Cole
18 0.32% 0 3
25 Daniel
25 0.38% 0 3
27 Justin
30 0.04% 0 2
29 Michael
24 0.02% 0 1
30 Ricky
Stenhouse, Jr.
27 0.08% 0 0

In far from a shocker, the dominant duo from April is at the top of the driver pool.

Chase Elliott ($14,000) and William Byron ($13,500) are both in playoff spots at the moment, too. We'll just wait for practice and qualifying to confirm their speed has returned, but more likely than not, they will be players on Sunday.

Needing a good run to bump Elliott, Byron, or Ross Chastain ($10,500) out, Virginia native Denny Hamlin ($13,000) probably feels okay returning to a track he's won at five times. I'm a bit concerned for Hamlin given he posted just the 24th-fastest median lap time here in April, but there's been plenty of research and development since then. He led 108 laps in this race a year ago.

As for Chastain, he'll probably be in the Championship 4 repeating his fifth-place effort here in April. He had the ninth-best median lap time, too. If he shows speed, Chastain might be an under-the-radar contender to lead laps after finishing second in consecutive weeks.

In the past seven races here, no one has a better average finish (5.6) than Ryan Blaney ($12,500). He's still alive for a title and pops well in Jim's simulations for this race. Teammate Joey Logano ($12,000) tops the sims, but I'm a bit bearish on him for this week. He's probably looking ahead to next week's title race after clinching his spot at Las Vegas.

Only Elliott (760) has led more laps in the past seven than the 756 by Martin Truex Jr. ($11,500), who never even made the playoffs. He's just here for a trophy, and I'll buy in if he's quick in practice.

The one driver that must win to make the title race is Chase Briscoe ($8,800). He finished 9th with the 10th-fastest median lap time here back in April, so consider him live.

Briscoe clearly heads the value tier, but teammate Aric Almirola ($7,800) has been a wizard on short, flat tracks for the better part of two years now. Almirola finished eighth here in April, fifth at Gateway, and had a mechanical issue as the defending race winner at Loudon. Watch for his speed in practice on Saturday.

A week after making the perfect lineup in Miami, Austin Dillon ($6,800) might be back for more. He finished third with the fourth-best median time in April. Arguably, if the race had run green to the end, he might have won the whole shebang.

You can look at any of the Xfinity Series title contenders in solid equipment in the value tier as well. Noah Gragson ($7,000) is an Xfinity winner at Martinsville, and Ty Gibbs ($5,500) has two top-10 finishes in that series.

Regardless of where he starts, A.J. Allmendinger ($7,200) is viable. He's snagged a top-10 finish in 10 of his 13 Cup Series starts. This salary almost makes no sense, but it's just due to (admittedly fair) low outright win odds.

Other top-20 median lap times from this April's race in the value tier are Austin Cindric ($6,500) and Cole Custer ($5,800).