Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
Normally in this piece, I downplay the impact of track history when trying to predict NASCAR DFS.
The reasoning for doing so is pretty simple. Usually, valuing track history means looking back at past seasons rather than the current one. As a result, you're seeing drivers in different contexts than their current environments. With the importance that equipment plays in NASCAR, that's a huge negative.
The other reason we can generally downplay track history is that we usually have data from similar tracks within that same season. If a driver runs well at one 1.5-mile track with moderate banking, you can expect them to be good the next time they go to a track in the same bucket. They also likely ran that race with the same team, making that even more important.
This week, things are different.
The chief reasoning is that we don't have those ever-important relevant races in 2020. Sunday's race in New Hampshire will be just the third this year at a short, flat track, and it's just the fourth using the higher-horsepower rules package. The most common race was in Phoenix, but that came before the COVID-19 layoff.
We could just jack up our reliance on recent races at less relevant tracks. But New Hampshire is a track with heavy off-throttle time, which is a different story than what we've seen at tracks like Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky the past few weeks. A larger pool of drivers can compete when equipment matters less, forcing us to adjust our thought process.
So, we wind up increasing the reliance on track history this week moreso out of necessity than anything else. Even that requires some caveats, though.
The big one is that the Cup Series now goes to New Hampshire just once per year, a trend that started in 2018. This means relevant drivers like Alex Bowman ($9,800) and William Byron ($8,500) have just a couple data points on the track, and that leaves a lot of variance up in the air. That's not even to mention the rookies, who have no Cup Series record here.
We've also had significant driver movement in that time. Matt DiBenedetto ($8,700) is the biggest one, finally getting into a competent ride last year and cashing in with a fifth-place finish. Daniel Suarez ($4,500) is the flip side of that. He was with Stewart-Haas Racing the past few years, so his track history is decent, but he's in non-competitive equipment now. In those situations, we still have to put more weight on current form, even if it means looking at less similar tracks.
With that in mind, here's this week's data sheet. The track history section includes races from 2017 through 2019, giving us a four-race sample. Half that sample is from 2017, though, so we do need to take those races with a grain of salt as they did occur far in the past. The current form segment includes the two races at short, flat tracks -- Phoenix and Martinsville -- before running down the four most recent races.
As always, the data here is each driver's average running position rather than their finish. Brad Keselowski ($12,000) had a fourth-place average running position last year in New Hampshire, meaning he was running at the front all day long. He lagged on the final run of the race, though, and finished 10th. That 10th-place finish isn't as good of a representation of his car's strength that day, meaning we might underrate Keselowski if we were to focus just on the final result.
The other data in the chart is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The odds are presented in fractional form, so Denny Hamlin ($13,400) being listed at 4.4 means he is +440 to win.
|Current Form||Track History|
|Martin Truex Jr.||$12,200||11||11||4||17||7||36||8||11||10||4||5||4|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,800||200||31||35||24||25||35||21||22||27||17||20||19|
|John Hunter Nemechek||$6,200||200||36||18||24||28||18||21||20||--||--||--||--|
As mentioned in this week's track preview, we need to work hard to find drivers starting near the front who have the ability to lead laps early and often. Hamlin and Keselowski seem to fit that bill perfectly based on the data.
Although we're not emphasizing place-differential this week, we should be willing to accept it where it's presented to us. We get that with Christopher Bell ($9,000), who drew the 35th starting spot.
Bell has no Cup Series history here, but in four race at New Hampshire between the Xfinity Series and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, he has three wins and a runner-up. He's a cash-game staple even at a track where passing is tough.
Outside of situations like Bell, you just want to identify drivers who can finish well, regardless of where they're starting. To figure that out, we can put extra emphasis on track history than usual. But overall, this is a weekend with limited and incomplete data, so you might have to dig a bit deeper to try to identify drivers who have the juice to be top-end plays for NASCAR DFS.