Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks: ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire
I’m going to the mountains and won’t be around to research/write a worthwhile article after all of the pre-race sessions, but you just went to the beach! If I go to Mars next week, then you’ll just have to deal with it.
I’m not going into a cave to drink Ayahuasca. It’s not a vision quest. I’ll be around. I’ll have my phone and access to twitter and the FanVice slack chat. My updated thoughts will be posted in the chat.
Here’s the plan. Look over the pre-qualifying picks. Look at the practice data and starting positions. Make your picks. That’s what I will do. Saturday through Sunday, I will be in the slack chat discussing the drivers that I am circling around and the ones that I am downgrading. I’ll make my wife drive home, so I guarantee that I will be available Sunday morning. Don’t worry, she doesn’t read this.
If you’re not in the slack chat, then tweet me (@Race4thePrize).
Two Trends to Watch:
- A driver’s average running position in the race is often predicted by their long run rank in practice. In the July New Hampshire race, 80% of the top 10 DFS drivers’ average running position was within 5 positions of their long run rank (if they were 8th in practice, then they ran around 8th during the race). Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez were unable to match their rank of 4th and 6th – that shouldn’t be a surprise. Drivers 11-20 were 60% successful at repeating practice speed during the race. The exceptions were Ty Dillon (never practices well), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (wrecked and never a generally reliable driver), Chase Elliott (3rd on the long run seems like too much to match when you weigh the field), and AJ Allmendinger (raced 8 spots better than his practice, but short, flat tracks are one of his strengths). Long run rank in practice (particularly the final practice) correlates with average running position in the race. The car that you have in practice is the car that you have in the race.
- It’s only been two months since the last race at New Hampshire. Nothing has changed. If week look at the 2016 data, the average running positions across the two New Hampshire races are very similar. If we set the margin at 5 positions, 77% of the drivers duplicated their July race average running position in the September race. If you deeply analyze the races, and throw some drivers out for wrecks or other circumstances, then that number is close to 90%. The car they had in July is the car they have this weekend.
- Martin Truex, Jr. – This car is good everywhere. He scored the most points at New Hampshire in July, he could’ve have scored more, but Hamlin was faster off pit road on the last pit stop. He scored the second most points at New Hampshire last fall. There isn’t a starting position that makes Truex a poor pick. If he’s inside the top 10, then he’ll lead laps. If he starts outside of the top 10, then take the place differential and the fast laps.
- Kyle Busch – At his price, he can be faded for one reason – this team makes too many mistakes. When Busch runs a clean race, he’s one or two on the DFS scoreboard, and you must have him. One mistake, he drops to 5th and you no longer need him. Two things can beat Kyle Busch. Himself and Martin Truex, Jr. In the July race, Kyle Busch scored 19.5 fast laps points and 23.75 laps led points. How come he didn’t he score the most fantasy points? He sped on pit road twice within the last 70 laps of the race. The fade is reasonable, but so is the play.
- Kyle Larson – He’s too cheap. He looked fine at Chicago. It’s silly to expect Larson to lead laps and run fast laps every single week. It’s pretty ridiculous that those expectations are placed on Truex, too. If Larson were in a Toyota, then we could hold him to the same unreasonable standard. In the July race, Larson drove from 39th to 2nd. He scored 19 fast lap points and was just a smidge away from 100 points.
- Denny Hamlin – He won the July race. He’s good at short tracks. If you’re fading one of the top three drivers, then Hamlin is the pivot. Hamlin scores top three fantasy points when someone makes a mistake, or he outgames them on pit road. He’s a stage 3 driver. Busch, Larson, and Truex burn up the scoreboard all throughout the race. Hamlin’s not that fast. He has to hang around and wait for a mistake. His Toyota is probably the 4th fastest car in NASCAR, so that doesn’t hurt.
- Matt Kenseth – At the short tracks, Kenseth has raced well. He won the pole at both Richmond races, and led a lot of laps in both. He led a little bit of the July New Hampshire race, but more importantly he was fast enough to run inside the top 5 all race. In doing so, he earned 15.5 fast lap points (more than Hamlin). This is a good track for Kenseth. His last four fantasy scores at New Hampshire are 56, 98, 101, and 84 points.
- Kevin Harvick – Last week is a perfect example of why Harvick is not a hog. He was fast in practice, but the only time he led laps was immediately after Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. were sent to the back for penalties. Before Truex got back to the front, Elliott had already passed Harvick. Harvick has blown numerous poles this year. It’s not his fault. His team is still adapting to the switch from Chevy to Ford. He’s a top 10 car, but he’s not going to outrace any of the drivers mentioned above. New Hampshire has been one of Harvick’s best tracks, but this isn’t the year. His starting position and his practice times do not matter. He’s been a fade all year, and it has worked. There is one exception to this rule, if he qualifies poorly, then load up.
- Jimmie Johnson – He doesn’t qualify well. That means he’s unlikely to lead at the beginning of the race. If you pick Jimmie, then you’re throwing away 200 laps of fast laps and laps led points. He’s a good driver, but he’s not a fantasy pick. Truex is Westbrook, all of the fantasy points and no championships. Jimmie Johnson is Tim Duncan, seven championships, but not fantasy relevant. As mentioned above, in his later years, Johnson has become terrible at qualifying. If he starts around 20th, then he’s in play. That being said, the one place he nearly won the pole this season was New Hampshire. He started second and proceeded to jump the start. That happens when you have very little experience starting on the front row.
- Joey Logano – Why not cheat, again? What is their to lose? NASCAR only takes away wins in terms of playoff points. Look at the record book. Logano’s illegal win at Richmond is still a win. He finished second in his return to Richmond (the second place car does not endure a thorough post-race inspection like the winner). New Hampshire is another short, flat track. Logano has 4 top 5s in his last 6 races at New Hampshire (including a win in 2014). If he starts top 5, looks good in practice, and speaks positively in interviews, then I’ll have some Logano. If you want a narrative, this is his hometown track. He made his Cup debut at New Hampshire. In his second race at New Hampshire, he earned his first career win.
- Erik Jones – When he was in the Xfinity series, he was often compared to Kyle Busch. He’s fast and reckless. All or nothing drivers are dangerous in fantasy NASCAR. Busch doesn’t wreck as much anymore, but the penalties and pit crew mistakes are still common. Jones suffers from both. He’s a rookie, but that seems to be his DNA. Last week, Jones screwed up just about every way possible. If he has a clean weekend, and that’s practice, qualifying, and the race, then he can score hog points. He did it at Bristol. At Richmond, his average running position was 7th and he scored 7.5 fast laps points. He burned a lot of people last week, so his ownership could drop, but not by much because his price tag is alluring. He wrecked in the July new Hampshire race, but that was the result of unknown damage from a pit road incident. On the restart, his tire went flat, and he went straight into the wall. Regardless of the circumstances, he’s risky because he wrecks too much.
- Brad Keselowski – No thank you. The price is egregious. He’s not leading laps or finishing races inside the top 10.
Sub 8k Drivers
Danica Patrick – She’s almost priced as a punt. At New Hampshire, she has three straight top 20 finishes. Some of that was due to pit strategy at the end of a race, but she was fast enough to put herself in position to jump a handful of spots at the end when others pitted. She’s a 20th place car. At her price, that works as long as she doesn’t qualify inside the top 20. Her average starting position at New Hampshire is 25th, so she’ll likely be in play.
Paul Menard – If you’re dad was a billionaire, wouldn’t you expect to have the fastest car in NASCAR? John Menard is the 46th richest man in America (worth $9.4 billion), and I’m excited that Menard is solid top 20 driver over the last 5 months? His dad will buy him a stock car ride, but he draws the line at buying a fast stock car ride. Menard finished 22nd in the July race, and that’s where he ran most of the race. That’s probably what we’ll get again this week. If he qualifies near 30th, then load up. If he qualifies around 25th, he’s still in play. As long as he can score 30-35 points, I am cool with Menard in GPPs. In cash games, 25 points will work. It all depends on where the other $6,000 drivers start.
Ryan Newman – He didn’t have the car in July, if he rolls out that same piece of garbage in practice, then I’m off of him. If he runs inside the top 20 in practice, then it’s safe to assume this is the Newman that has 18 top 10s at New Hampshire.
Austin Dillon – So goes Newman, so goes Dillon. If one RCR car struggles with their setup, then they all do. Dillon needs a 10th to 15th place finish to keep his playoff hopes alive. His average running position over the last six new hampshire races is 19th. That doesn’t sound that good for Dillon. Remove his name. A $7,000 driver has an average running position of 19th at New Hampshire. That doesn’t sound that bad at all.
Ryan Blaney – He’s sneaky. His average running position at the short tracks is 15th. Throw out Bristol (he didn’t have power steering) and his average running position is 13th. The only probably with those numbers is that in the first five short track races, Blaney could not finish. In his last three, he has reversed the trend and has earned top 20s. At his price, a top 20 finish is not enough unless he starts in the 20s, but he never does. If he can finish 10th and start in the teens, then he’s a low owned option.
A.J. Allmendinger – I’ve always consider Almendinger to be a good racer at short, flat tracks, and the public is coming around. New Hampshire and Martinsville are the most similar tracks. Phoenix and Richmond are close, but they have some intermediate track qualities. Allmendinger’s Last 6: New Hampshire – 21st, 21st, 21st, 23rd, 13th, and 13th. Martinsville – 6th, 10th, 2nd, 11th, 43rd, 9th. Richmond – 26th, 37th, 20th, 25th, 24th, 13th. Phoenix – 26th, 17th, 17th, 24th, 17th, and 16th.
Ty Dillon – If he qualifies 25th or deeper, he’s fine. He never shows anything in practice, but always races around 20th. Don’t worry about last week. It was lap turner without cautions. There were few wave around or lucky dog opportunities. Dillon has a low ceiling. If he starts around 30th, then he becomes a GPP play.
Aric Almirola – His price continues to rise, so his ownership will drop. He didn’t do much in the first New Hampshire race, but that was his first race back from injury. He should be a little sharper this time around, and this is a good track for Almirola. His New Hampshire finishes as full time driver are as follows 24th, 17th, 19th, 43rd, 15th, 6th, 23rd, 21st, 5th, 23rd, and 28th. Almirola, Allmendinger, Menard, and Patrick are around 20th place cars. Practice and starting positions will be the deciding factors on who is the play this week. Also, the 43 car has been strong this season.
Kasey Kahne – He’s a GPP only play. In the July race, he stunk. Nothing went wrong. Kahne was a top 10 car and he pitted between stage 1 and 2. Most of the field stayed out. He restarted near 30th and was never able to make it through traffic. He ended up going several laps down, and that was that. It’s slightly surprising that he couldn’t get through traffic with a decent car, but it’s kasey Kahne we’re talking about. In the five previous New Hampshire races, his average running positions were 13th, 12th, 13th, 19th, and 12th. Kahne got a New crew chief this week. Darian Grubb was Denny Hamlin’s old crew chief. We’ve seen a new crew chief light a spark in drivers. Most recently, Austin Dillon’s win in the Coca-Cola 600.
Track Cheat Sheet: New Hampshire
This is a short track. It is a one mile long, paperclip shaped flat track. Imagine a bigger version of Martinsville, and just like Martinsville it’s very hard to pass. To counter this, like they do every week now, NASCAR smothered the track in PJ1 (sticky stuff that creates multiple racing grooves). In the first New Hampshire race, the bottom groove was lathered, and nothing changed. This time around, they’re going to cover the whole track. I’ve seen snake oil produce better results.
Everywhere other than Bristol, the PJ1 hasn’t worked. Bristol was already a two groove track, it just needed a little extra grip on the bottom. Most tracks have one racing line. That’s every track, every where, in every form of racing. In July, early reports were that the track has two grooves early in a run, then just one on long runs. That’s exactly what happens, and that’s every track every week. If a driver wants to make a pass, then they have to do it early in a run, or what we like to call – on restarts. Expect the weekly dose of restart wrecks indiscriminately ruining daily fantasy NASCAR lineups.