NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Coca-Cola 600
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 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, May 27th
7:05 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, May 27th
8:05 p.m. EST
For my process in daily fantasy, this is one of my favorite races of the year.
It can be a guessing game at more unique tracks, but with a pair of 1.5-mile ovals behind us, we roughly know what to expect at Charlotte. Kansas and Las Vegas even have similar tire wear to this track, but one of the main differences could be seen between practice, qualifying, and the race.
This track is supremely sensitive to temperature, and we'll start this race in far more daylight than we'll see in practice and qualifying. The best cars might slip back in the field at the beginning of the race a bit.
Last year's race was a wild, intense battle with 31 lead changes and 18 caution flags. A repeat would make for another heart-pounding sweat in daily fantasy.
General Lineup Strategy
Though this is an intermediate oval where -- usually -- laps led points are both less numerous and less crucial, this weekend's race is always an exception.
Stock car racing's longest night includes 400 laps for 600 miles around this track -- and 40.0 FanDuel points for laps led. We'll want a bunch of them, and historically, they've been bunched among just a couple of drivers.
In 2022, Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott combined to lead 239 laps. During 2021's event, Kyle Larson led 327 himself. In 2020, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead 251 laps. On most occasions, you needed those drivers in your lineup to win a tournament prize.
With room to pass, you'd think that we could target place-differential points for value behind them, but that hasn't been the case. Of the last 30 top-10 finishers at Charlotte's oval, only 8 of them started outside the top-15 spots. It defies what I'd believe to be conventional wisdom with three stage breaks and last year's gigantic incident rate, but this is a bigger track. Speed is king.
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 Kansas (Spring) - 50%
2023 Las Vegas (Spring) - 50%
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.
Chevrolet and Toyota have dueled fairly closely on the two 1.5-mile tracks this year, so I'm open to both while fading Ford. That worked well in Kansas.
Denny Hamlin ($12,500) won the race there, and he was the fastest car in practice and by median lap time during the race. However, that didn't really manifest until the end of the race as Kyle Larson ($14,000) and William Byron ($13,500) led 95 laps and finished in the two spots behind him.
Byron overcame a tire issue to finish there, and Larson should have won the event if Hamlin didn't crash him on the last lap. I'd still give the Hendrick duo the edge at the top.
As a former dominant winner of this race, Martin Truex Jr. ($11,500) also made substantial noise with 79 laps led there. He's now found the front in four straight points-paying races, and Truex has led over 100 laps in three different runnings of the Coca-Cola 600. I think he's a sneaky good candidate.
Jim and I don't disagree often, but he's higher on Ross Chastain ($13,000) than I am. Chastain has just the eighth-best median lap blend this week and led just three laps at Kansas during a pit cycle. I'm not sure his high-end ceiling matches the salary, but it's hard to write him off when he's running well and led the most laps in last year's 600 (153).
The two other Hendrick cars are Chase Elliott ($12,000) and Alex Bowman ($10,000), whose median times are definitely skewed by missing one of the two races in the sample apiece. Both scored top-10 finishes at the event they started.
Other Toyotas to watch include Christopher Bell ($10,500), Tyler Reddick ($9,500), Bubba Wallace ($8,500), and Ty Gibbs ($7,200). Reddick finished ninth or better in his last two Charlotte races with RCR, so switching to manufacture that's tearing up this track type could be a story to watch.
As usual, Kevin Harvick ($9,000) is the lone Ford that gets a pass. He's got the ninth-best median blend, which leads all Fords, and trails only Larson in average finish for the last four races at Charlotte's oval (7.0).
Another pair of Chevys could be stud value plays when they've got excellent track histories here. Austin Dillon ($6,500) was the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 winner with three top-10s here since. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,000) has finished 12th or better in three straight May races here.
As you'd expect, a lot of the value tier is Ford, but I'll be more willing to buy into practice times with some of the Stewart-Haas teammates of Harvick when Chase Briscoe ($6,000) was leading here late last year before contact with Larson. Aric Almirola ($5,500) and Ryan Preece ($5,000) could also be of service from that stable.
Finally, Harrison Burton ($3,500) might be worth a shout. Coming off a career-best run at Darlington two weeks ago, Burton finished 11th in last year's Coca-Cola 600. He's a passive driver that doesn't get in too many incidents, so longevity could favor him if he shows decent enough speed in practice.