Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Dixie Vodka 400
At long last, it's back to basics.
The start of the NASCAR DFS season has been littered with events that required unique strategies, forcing us to sell out for place-differential and hope our drivers picked their way through the pack.
This week, the Cup Series is running 267 laps at Homestead for the Dixie Vodka 400. That means we can finally allow ourselves to get excited about laps led.
Perfect lineups from similar races last year had an average of 158.6 laps led across the five drivers, meaning we need at least one and as many as three potential lap-leaders in each tournament lineup. Those lap-leaders tend to come from the front of the pack, so the starting range of viable drivers just got wider.
As always, though, there's still upside in targeting drivers further back who can rack up place-differential during the race. That's especially true this week.
The starting order was set based on a formula that revolves around performances both last week and in the Daytona 500. The first two races of the year have been high-variance events, meaning we've got fast cars starting in the back.
Basically, we've got options. Our lineups are going to feel good this week.
We just have to determine which drivers in these buckets stand out most. That's where the data comes into play.
The tricky part about data this time of year is that we don't yet have any relevant races in 2021. Homestead is a 1.5-mile track, and the first two races have been at a road course and a superspeedway. They won't give us much of a tell on what to expect.
As such, only one of those races is included on the sheet below. The Daytona roval performance is listed in the current form section just to give a slight read on who has done well with their new teams this year. The other data is all from 2020.
The main focus of the 2020 data is flatter, 1.5-mile tracks, similar to Homestead. All of the track history data (obviously) is on a track like that, in addition to the races in Kansas and Las Vegas. The two Texas races in the current-form section are also 1.5-mile tracks, but the banking there is higher, making them a bit less relevant than the others.
As always, the data here is the driver's average running position for the race. Finishing positions can be fluky due to late-race cautions and other factors. But it's hard to fake a good average running position. That's noteworthy with Tyler Reddick ($9,200 on FanDuel) having posted a fourth-place average running position here last year. He has a long history of dominance at Homestead in the Xfinity Series, is starting 35th, and has a middling salary. Giddy up.
The other data listed is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are listed in fractional form, so Chase Elliott ($13,000) being listed at 5.5 means he is +550 to win.
|Martin Truex Jr.||$12,500||7||9||7||4||10||7||4||17||11||3||4|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,000||200||15||23||19||20||23||35||24||23||22||14|
Denny Hamlin ($13,500) has a top-four average running position in four of the nine races on the sheet, three of which were on the flatter 1.5-mile tracks. Seems good! You're going to want him in your rotation for potential lap-leaders.
One thing to note when looking at the track history is that the samples here are small. They race at Homestead just once per year, meaning there's extra data there on drivers with old teams. That's key for a bunch of guys, but it's especially key for Matt DiBenedetto ($7,200) and Ross Chastain ($6,200).
DiBenedetto moved into a more competitive ride last year, meaning the current form data on him is solid. But the 2019 and 2018 races at Homestead were in lesser equipment. He ranks 19th in my model without adding in priors for his new equipment but moves up to 15th once those adjustments are made.
Chastain -- outside of a brief stint at Roush-Fenway Racing last year -- is in competitive equipment for the first time in his life. This means all of his non-roval current form data and his history at the track is when he was in cars that couldn't keep pace. He's not in top-tier stuff now by any means, but it's certainly better than it was. You should largely ignore Chastain's data and treat him as a more competitive version of what Matt Kenseth did in this car last year.
The final note here is that we don't have relevant data on this year's rookie class. That's fine for some drivers, but we do want some point of reference for Chase Briscoe ($7,000), specifically. Briscoe is driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, making him teammates with Kevin Harvick ($14,000), Aric Almirola ($7,800), and Cole Custer ($6,800). Harvick and Almirola are near the peak production ages for Cup Series drivers, making them tough comps.
But Custer was a rookie last year, meaning our expectations of Briscoe should be largely on par with what Custer did. After adding in those priors, Briscoe ranks 17th in my model, which is high enough to be interesting for a value play starting in 30th.