Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: Super Start Batteries 400
If your goal in NASCAR DFS is to have the freedom to just pick the drivers you think are fastest, then Thursday's race in Kansas was made for you.
The Cup Series' Super Start Batteries 400 is one where you don't need to target drivers starting in one specific range in order to have competitive lineups. There are some general tenets to follow, but as long as you adhere to them, you're going to be just fine.
It's a 267-lap race, giving us 26.7 points available for laps led on FanDuel. That's down a good amount from the 33.4 available last week, and it's more than what we had at recent tracks like Indianapolis and Pocono. That sweet spot is what gives us the leeway to play things however we want.
This race also isn't a change from anything we've seen recently. In fact, it's right in line with several races within the past month, and they give us a good blueprint of what we should look for within the field.
Where does that lead us from a strategy perspective for Thursday? Let's check that out now.
Flexibility in Studs and Values
Thursday's race will be the fifth time this year we've had a race at a 1.5-mile track where the starting order has been set by a blend of owner points and a draw. That's a good sample to draw from, and we can tug on trends within quality lineups from those races to map out or plan this time.
With the studs, one thing has been abundantly clear: you need at least two drivers starting in the top 12 spots in each lineup. Across the four previous perfect lineups from similar races, all of them had at least two drivers who started in the top 12. Two of them had three such drivers. This makes sense from both a data and narrative perspective.
The data lends itself to this strategy because of the number of laps. With 267 laps, there's enough upside for multiple drivers at the front to pay off. We don't need to jam in as many lap-leaders as possible, but good lineups will get bumps from laps led.
Anecdotally, we need to remind ourselves of which drivers are starting in those top 12 spots. They're the 12 teams that have earned the most points this season, and it's hard to fake that over an 18-race stretch. If you're trying to predict which drivers will lead laps and contend for a win, they're going to come from that group most often.
So, from a studs perspective, we don't have much freedom in the number of them we roster. We need at least two in every lineup. Instead, our freedom comes from where those studs start within those top 12 spots.
We've had 10 drivers starting in the top 12 make a perfect lineup in our four-race sample. Six of them have started ninth or lower, which could lead you to believe that we want to skew toward drivers starting further back. But that wouldn't necessarily be a proper conclusion.
Of the 10 front-starters in perfect lineups, seven of them led at least 50 laps. Four of those seven were drivers who started ninth or lower. They weren't cracking the perfect lineup due to place-differential points; they got there by leading laps and finishing well.
Drivers starting in the top five still have value, even if they aren't as robustly represented in the perfect lineups. Three of the four races had a driver who started in the top five in the perfect lineup. These drivers have quick access to leading laps, and with the value of clean air, they can often hold the lead through the end of the opening stage. If they can hang near the front and get a top-five finish, there's a good chance they'll find themselves in the perfect lineup.
With the number of laps where it's at, you can justify having multiple drivers in the top five in the same lineup. If they both manage to lead 60 or so laps, they could be keys to a tournament-winning lineup. You certainly don't need to bump down drivers who draw near the top end of this group.
More succinctly, you can roster whichever studs you like most. Whether they're starting 1st, 12th, or anywhere in between, they can pay off for DFS as long as they're fast enough. Just snag the two you dig most and go from there.
For the value plays, we do want to put more weight on finding place-differential. But even here, we can justify anything as long as the speed is there.
In our past four perfect lineups, four drivers have made the cut after starting 29th or worse. Those are drivers outside the top 24 in owner points, who start anywhere from 25th to 36th. For obvious reasons, they're key for DFS... as long as they're fast enough.
Those four perfect-lineup appearances all came from two drivers who have since moved up into the top 24 in points: Cole Custer and Christopher Bell. They had some bad luck to open the year, but their recent speed was spicy. Custer even won a race after starting 29th. Clearly, they had the giddy-up to push for top-10s, and there's ginormous DFS value in that.
But as the sample has gotten larger, the cream has risen to the top, and there aren't as many high-end teams slated to start further back. There are a couple who have competitive speed, but it's not as much of a no-brainer as it was when Custer and Bell were back there.
This increases the appeal in drivers who draw toward the bottom end of the range from 13th to 24th. They're not as sketchy performance-wise as those starting deeper in the pack, but they still bring some place-differential juice to the table.
Last week's race in Texas was the first after Custer had graduated into the top 24 in owner points. It was also the first race in this sample where no drivers starting outside the top 24 made the perfect lineup. Instead, three drivers starting between 21st and 24th made the cut. Now, with Bell having also graduated, we shouldn't be surprised if this is a trend that continues.
Clearly, there will be exceptions if someone outside the top 24 in owner points does have the equipment necessary for a good finish. The way to determine that -- and pick your studs -- is by looking at recent races in Kentucky and Homestead.
Data to Emphasize
Kansas is a moderately banked, 1.5-mile track. It's the fourth such race this year, and it's the third we've had since the end of the COVID-19 layoff. The other two were in Kentucky and Homestead.
That means we've got a lot of data telling us whom we should expect to be fast on Thursday night. We should use that to our advantage.
The most important races here will be the recent ones in Kentucky and Homestead. They both fit into the two buckets above and have occurred recently.
The third race at a 1.5-mile track with moderate banking was in Las Vegas. That took place before the layoff, and lots of things have changed since then. That's why we'll want to put more weight on Kentucky and Homestead, but Vegas can still give us good information.
In addition to those three races, there have been four other races at 1.5-mile tracks this year. Although they're not as helpful due to higher banking and different levels of tire wear, the drivers who were fast there at least have the equipment necessary to compete on Thursday. You can see each driver's stats in these seven races at 1.5-mile tracks by checking out Racing Reference's fantasy page.
Combine all this together, and you can see who will be pushing for wins and top-10s on Thursday night. As mentioned at the top, those drivers are likely to be high-quality DFS plays regardless of where they start, making a deep dive into the numbers critical before filling out lineups.
Thursday night is a good race to just ride or die with the drivers you think are best. They can pay off for DFS almost regardless of where they're starting, so take advantage and plug them in. We have the general guidelines discussed above, but overall, we've got freedom this week to go wherever our hearts and our brains tell us is best.