Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol
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Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks: Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington
Dig into the statistics and find the best plays for this weekend’s NASCAR event with the Daily Fantasy NASCAR Spreadsheet: click here
Top Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks (plus $9,000)
The Daily Fantasy NASCAR circuit is back at an intermediate track for the first time since early July. There will be 367 laps this weekend. Most intermediate tracks are only 400 miles, but Darlington is a 500 mile race. It would be fair to approach this race like a short track from a daily fantasy NASCAR point perspective.
Kyle Larson was the fastest in practice #1 on the short run and 2nd fastest on the long run. He was the fastest on the long run in the second and final practice. If you count Fontana and Michigan as intermediate tracks, and that’s not a stretch, then Larson has finished 2nd or better in 7 of the 9 races. He wrecked at Charlotte when pushing to hard to drive from the back to the front.
At Kansas, he finished 6th with that race being controlled by Blaney starting on the front row, and Truex and Kyle Busch. Larson finished 3rd last year at the Southern 500 and has nothing but top 10s in his career at Darlington. This is a track where drivers must run dangerously close to the wall. It should be no surprise that the dirt tracker has always been successful at Darlington.
Martin Truex, Jr. averages 94 fantasy points per race at 1.5 mile tracks. If you throw out the second race of the season in Atlanta where Truex only scored 39 points, then Truex is averaging 112 points per race. Intermediate tracks are all about speed and speed doesn’t vanish. Truex burned a lot of players at Bristol, but it was bad luck.
The driver is fine. The car is fine. He had a loose lugnut and had to pit under green. That’s almost certain doom at a short track, but when you get hit with a speeding penalty while pitting, then your race is over. Without the penalty, Truex could have been the winner at Bristol. There is also the little fact that Truex won at Darlington last year.
Kevin Harvick would be the first expensive driver that I would fade. The pole sitter has scored the most fantasy points in each of the last two Darlington races. Past trends do not always predict future results. Keselowski scored the most points from the pole in 2015, but Keselowski had the best average finish at intermediate tracks that season. Harvick scored 100 points from the pole last season, but he had the best car in NASCAR last season. He’s not that guy this season.
Harvick won the pole at Texas, and faded. He scored the 6th most fantasy points, but he was not in the optimal lineup. It’s only a matter of time before Truex, Larson, or Busch leave Harvick behind. Why pick him? He’s going to score points at the beginning. If he only loses a spot or two, then he’ll be able to regain the lead off pit road with the number one pit stall. Harvick’s new Ford hasn’t been elite this season, but that car won all three rounds of qualifying. This might be the best ride that he has had all season.
Finally, Darlington is a tricky track. Current form is always stat #1, but track history isn’t that far behind this week, and Harvick has the best track history at Darlington. In the last three Darlington races, Harvick has scored over 110 points twice.
Denny Hamlin has the speed, track history, and starting position to earn a top 3 DFS score. It’s likely that two drivers run away with the laps led points. The third highest score could easily come from a driver that finishes top 5, scores place differential points, and picks up some fast lap points. Hamlin finished 5th on the DFS scoreboard doing this exact thing last year. This summer Hamlin has been very fast, but he’s gone overlooked racing in the shadows of Truex, Larson, and Busch. DFS players are going to target the “big 3” first. They’ll add Harvick to the mix, as well. Meanwhile Hamlin is the forgotten driver.
It’s hard to imagine that Hamlin will be overlooked with 9 top 10s in 11 Darlington races (4 top 5s in the last 5). The stats don’t matter when it comes to roster construction. Hamlin is easy to fit as the third top tier driver with three $6K drivers, but that means fading two of the following drivers Truex, Larson, Harvick, and Kyle Busch. No one wants to do that. Mass entry players will, but most players don’t want to make that move. You have to double punt to fit four. That seems crazy and not optimal at all. If you play drivers in the $7K to $8K range, then you can squeeze three top tier drivers into your lineup, but you’re back in the same jam. Which three?
Hamlin should be low owned and has the potential to put up a top 3 DFS score. Not a lot of drivers have this potential, but that price. The high price tag is a good thing. If he was in the low $9Ks, everyone would be jamming him into their lineups.
Middle Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks ($7,000-$9,000)
Kasey Kahne was fast in practice and has good track history. He’s been terrible this year, so only use him in GPPs. He got really lucky at Atlanta to start the year (several lucky dogs), and it’s been downhill ever since. Yes, he was fast in practice, but we’ve seen this before. The track history is hard to ignore. Darlington is a unique beast, and Kahne seems to know how to handle The Lady in Black. His Darlington finishes look good, but his average running position is even better: 12th, 20th, 13th, 5th, 6th, 2nd, and 12th.
With exceptional track history, it’s hard to fade Kahne in GPPs. The cutoff for a top 10 DFS score is about 41 fantasy points. That’s a 13th place finish. If he doesn’t wreck (he’s been wrecking a lot lately, so no cash Kahne for me), he should be a top 15 car.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his Hendrick teammate, Kasey Kahne, are identical plays. Junior was just a tad slower in practice, but fast enough. He’s been wrecking a lot lately, as well. His track history is good, too. He missed last year’s race, but from 2013 to 2015, Junior scored three top 10s (including a 2nd place finish).
The season started out rough with a flat tire and pit road penalty at Atlanta. Since then, he’s finished 16th, 5th, 20th, 10th, and 12th. With a 10th place finish, he’ll be one of the few sub $8,000 driver with top 10 DFS score. Just like Kahne, I wouldn’t risk him in cash games. They’re both at the end of their careers. They’ll have a good week every once in awhile, but they’ll also have their fair share of DNFs. The same thing happened to Gordon, Biffle, and Tony Stewart.
Value Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks ($6,000-$7,000)
We’re looking for place differential and finishing position.
Chris Buescher has been pretty good at the intermediate tracks this season. He’s finished 24th, 23rd, 21st, 18th, 20th, and 16th. It’s not a fluke. His JTG Daugherty teammate has similar results (A.J. Almendinger is starting 29th, and If I wrote up another driver, then it would be him).
Last year, Buescher drove from 31st to 17th and scored 41 points at Darlington (11th best score and in the optimal lineup). His best lap in practice ranked 21st, but that’s pretty much where he’s run in every other intermediate track practice this season. Starting 27th and not having wrecked at an intermediate track this season, Buescher is safe in cash lineups.
Danica Patrick finished 15th at the last 1.5 mile track (Kentucky). She finished 17th at Atlanta to start the season. She was running middle of the pack when her engine blew with 20 laps left at Las Vegas. She finished 24th at Texas, but ran around 21st. At Kansas, she was running inside the top 15 before wrecking (not her fault). She finished 25th at Charlotte. Danica is not a 33rd place car.
If she avoids a wreck, she’s 25th at worst. A 20th place finish is 37 points and right on the edge of a top 10 DFS score. At her price, if she finishes 20th (not a stretch), she’ll be in the optimal GPP lineup. Being that she’s Danica, her ownership will likely not be as high as it should be. Patrick was 22nd on the short run. Her long run speed was a little disappointing, but she should be able to hang on to the lead lap. She finished 24th at Darlington last season.
Michael McDowell never starts this far back (30th). In the six intermediate track races, he has 5 top 25s (3 top 20s). He wasn’t very fast in practice. He looks like a 25th to 30th place car. That will work in cash games. McDowell is the new Ty Dillon. From an FPPK perspective they look like the same play. For either to be in the winning GPP lineups, there will have to be a lot of luck involved or a lot of wrecks.
Punt Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks (sub $6,000)
Jeff Earnhardt is a game theory play. Punting isn’t necessary this week. There are several $6,000 drivers starting near 30th. Also, Darlington is not a four hog race. If you’re punting, then it’s for differentiation and savings. Why play a $5K punt when there are plenty of $6K options with upside? If you punt, then you’ve got to go below $5K, and there is only one option. You need a driver that is starting in the back and has a car that can possibly finish the race. The bad news is that Earnhardt wrecked last year at Darlington. The good news is that he didn’t wreck until lap 255. Yes, that’s not very good news, but it was his first race at Darlington (the other punts are making their first run at the Track Too Tough To Tame). How about this, at Kentucky, he finished 29th.
Track Cheat Sheet: Darlington
- This is an egg shaped oval. Its asymmetry is significant. The car can only be set up to perfectly handle one end of the track. It’s common for drivers to brush up against the wall while exiting a turn. It’s also common for a driver to flat out run into the wall while exiting a turn.
- Darlington and next week’s race at Richmond are the last two races of the regular season. We could see some questionable moves by teams trying to steal a win to earn a playoff spot.
I am a promoter at FanVice and am also a user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of FanVice and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.