NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: All-Star Race
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 NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Friday, May 19th
4:00 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Friday, May 19th
5:45 p.m. EST
|Heat Races||Saturday, May 20th
7:35 p.m. EST
|Open Race||Sunday, May 21st
6:00 p.m. EST
A special weekend means a special format.
This weekend's All-Star Race will be the Cup Series' first trip to North Wilkesboro Speedway since 1996. Back in the 20th century, NASCAR ran multiple dates at this 0.625-mile oval like we do Martinsville or Richmond now. Of course, the track closed in 1996 in favor of larger speedways in bigger markets, but the campaign to bring this place back really hasn't stopped since.
They've renovated plenty of the facilities -- but not the race track. By design, this surface is still the original with repairs made, which should lead to a race with extreme tire wear and low grip.
The weekend format is identical to prior All-Star Races at short tracks. Practice and qualifying will ensure as normal, but qualifying just sets the field for the heat races set to follow. A points system based on finishing position and place differential will then set the starting grid.
As per usual on FanDuel, the player pool only includes the 21 drivers in the race that have currently qualified. There has always been an open event before the All-Star Race to allow three more drivers, including a fan vote winner, into the main show. None of those drivers will be scored on FanDuel.
General Lineup Strategy
The format of this year's All-Star Race is actually quite simple, and that makes our strategy quite simple. There are no inversions, formulas, or required pit stops, and all caution-flag laps will count. It's a normal race.
There are 200 laps in the race, allowing for 20.0 FanDuel points for laps led. All things considered, this is a fairly low total and opens the door to using place-differential options. There will be a caution flag for a "halftime" thrown at Lap 100 if a natural incident doesn't bring out one in the vicinity of that mark.
The worn surface and extreme tire wear should invite opportunities to pass, but keep in mind that this grid will be set with an enormous amount of care between qualifying and heat races. In all likelihood, the fastest cars will start up front.
We see this at Bristol's dirt race every year. Almost all of the lap leaders start in the top 10, and there are very few finishers that make the top 10 at the end of the race who didn't start there.
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 or a top-20 finish this season were included.
MLT Rank is the driver's weighted average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend as a great indicator of overall speed. The prior races in the sample (with weight percentage) this week are:
2023 Richmond (Spring) - 40%
2023 Darlington (Spring) - 30%
2023 Bristol Dirt (Spring) - 30%
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.
Any apprehensions I had about Kyle Larson ($13,500) here were squashed in April.
Richmond is probably the closest comparison to North Wilkesboro on the current points-paying Cup Series schedule, and Larson won there while leading 93 total laps despite struggling historically. He was in a position to win both other tracks in this week's blend (Darlington and Bristol) before on-track accidents, too. He's the overwhelming favorite for good reason.
However, I think Martin Truex Jr. ($12,000) is a clear second. Truex won at the last exhibition short track in L.A., and he posted the fastest median lap time at Darlington last week. Like Larson, an on-track incident with Ross Chastain ($10,500) derailed his day, too.
William Byron ($13,000) just keeps winning as Larson and Truex fall apart, so he'll be a threat. Byron led the most laps (117) at Richmond earlier this season before winning last week's low-grip affair at Darlington.
I'm a bit down on Denny Hamlin ($11,000) this week after his no-show at Darlington. Hamlin has dominated every short track on the circuit for nearly two decades, but his form isn't great. In fact, Hamlin hasn't finished better than 12th at any of the races in the sample.
To illustrate the value proposition there, Chase Elliott ($9,500), Kyle Busch ($9,000), and Tyler Reddick ($8,500) all held top-12 median lap times at Darlington last week. They'll all fit easier next to Larson and Byron in a core build.
My median rankings also include other drivers that haven't yet (or will not) race Saturday, so it speaks to the depth of this field that Bubba Wallace ($7,500), Brad Keselowski ($7,000), Chase Briscoe ($6,000), Chris Buescher ($5,500), and Austin Dillon ($5,500) all hold top-20 median average rankings in this blend overall.
Of course, that means we really should penalize cars that are much further behind on speed but happened to qualify -- specifically Austin Cindric ($4,000) and Erik Jones ($4,000). Loading up on studs likely isn't worth the penalty that would come from their poor finish.