NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Pennzoil 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.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, March 4th
1:30 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, February 25th
2:00 p.m. EST
If there was ever an early-season race we might have success predicting, it'll be this one.
In addition to last week's race on a multi-groove configuration, we had two 1.5-milers with tire wear in last year's playoffs. There is some predictability entering the weekend.
To me, Las Vegas is the most cookie-cutter track on NASCAR's schedule. It's a 1.5-mile intermediate oval with two-to-three grooves and just enough tire wear to value new rubber, but we've seen race-winning calls to stay out -- or for two tires -- here, too.
This will be a perfect measuring stick for the circuit's intermediate programs, and last week gave us a bit of a hint.
General Lineup Strategy
With 267 laps on deck (and 26.7 FanDuel points for laps led), we'll want to prioritize lap leaders.
However, laps led weren't concentrated here last year. Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain combined to lead 132 laps as the lead duo in March, and in October, no combination of two drivers reached 100 laps led. Those were the only two races with this car on this track. We will obviously love laps led if we can find them, but it won't be easy.
This is a place where place-differential points can be a difference-maker, too. Last fall, 6 of the top-10 finishers started outside of the top-15 spots, bucking the March race trend where only 3 of the top-10 finishers started beyond that point. Last week's passing ability at Fontana should provide hope this aero package can produce the same.
Early in the season, I'm more open to a balanced build to try to take three or four swipes at a car capable of leading this race. I can't even state with confidence that this week's top-ranked driver will lead at any point.
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:
2023 Fontana (Spring) - 34%
2022 Kansas (Fall) - 33%
2022 Las Vegas (Fall) - 33%
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.
It's a bit odd that Jim and I arrived at the same top dog, but Denny Hamlin ($12,000) has been too good here consistently to believe he won't be a factor.
The 2022 October winner has four top-fives in the last six Vegas races, and he flashed the fourth-fastest median lap time this past weekend. If not for bad pit strategy, Hamlin likely would have been on the podium at Fontana, so he's a solid threat.
Last week's dominant car was Ross Chastain ($13,000), who also led the most laps in both Las Vegas races a year ago. In my eyes, he should be right amongst the betting favorites.
Joey Logano ($12,500) was the last driver to visit Victory Lane in Vegas, so it is incredibly interesting that the defending champion flashed the third-best median lap time last week. He's not shown a ton of high-end, lap-leading speed at these tracks (led just 32 laps in last year's win), but he will do just that if the Fontana speed carries over.
This weekend's favorites are Kyle Busch ($14,000) and Kyle Larson ($13,500). Obviously, I feel they're contenders. Larson had the second-fastest median time in Las Vegas last October, and Busch has the best average finish (5.7) in the last six races at LVMS. However, if I get the sense either will be overwhelmingly popular, I'll probably look elsewhere in a deep field.
Tyler Reddick ($9,000) had a top-10 average median lap time ranking in all three races of this week's sample, and he's now a teammate to Bubba Wallace ($8,000), who had the fastest median time and finished second last October at Las Vegas. To me, they're the supreme value plays on the slate and are capable of dominating the race.
Kevin Harvick ($8,500) and Daniel Suarez ($7,500) had top-10 average running positions last week and have top-10 average median lap rankings in this week's sample. They're probably at the low end of contenders to lead decent portions of the race.
I'll be more malleable to practice times with my value guys, and it'd be ideal if some of the top-shelf equipment deeper in the field flashed speed. That includes Chase Briscoe ($7,000) and Aric Almirola ($5,500), but Ty Gibbs ($6,000) and Austin Cindric ($5,000) are also down in this range.
Alex Bowman ($8,200), Austin Dillon ($7,200), Brad Keselowski ($6,500), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($4,800), and Justin Haley ($4,200) also have top-20 median lap time blends this week, which does include a bit of last week at Fontana. Bowman, Dillon, and Keselowski were particularly strong a week ago with top-15 average running positions.