Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Pennzoil 400
The big question for this week is how much stock you put into what happened at Homestead.
When trying to judge speed for NASCAR DFS, you want to emphasize recent races at similar tracks. Both Homestead and Las Vegas -- the site of this week's Pennzoil 400 -- are 1.5-mile tracks with more moderate banking. That's the lone race we have in 2021 at a relevant track, so it makes sense that we'd load up on drivers who had the burners on high last week.
The problem is that those drivers are likely starting at the front of the pack, which means we're not getting place-differential upside from them. That's totally acceptable if they have enough finishing upside. But with those who struggled last week starting further back, there is incentive to dig in and see if we can expect a rebound.
Helpfully for those drivers who may have lagged, there are some differences in the two tracks. Primarily, tire falloff won't be as dramatic, and there aren't as many viable grooves in Las Vegas as Homestead. Those aren't big enough differences to completely ignore what happened last week, but they do provide an outlet for buying into some of the strugglers.
As a result, this might be a good week to zoom out and still look at what happened in 2020, even if we're going to have bad data on drivers with new teams.
This week's data sheet attempts to give some balance to those two aspects. Yes, the first race listed in the current form section is Homestead, and yes that matters a lot. We should emphasize it heavily in our research. But for the drivers who fell behind there, we can look at their 2020 races on 1.5-mile tracks -- two of which were in Las Vegas -- and see if there's reason to expect improvements.
The fall 2020 race in Vegas is especially useful. It took place during the playoffs, meaning it will encapsulate any in-season gains teams made last year. That's the best race to look at for 2020. If a driver did well there and is in the same equipment this time around, it's fair to expect them to run up front again on Sunday.
As always, the data listed here is each driver's average running position. Chase Elliott ($12,500 on FanDuel) is a good example of why. He led 73 laps in the playoff race at Las Vegas and had a fourth-place average running position. He had issues late in the race, though, and finished 22nd. His finish undersells the strength he had in that race and isn't a good indicator of what we should expect this time around.
The other data listed is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are in fractional form, so Kevin Harvick ($14,000) being listed at 6 means he is +600 to win.
|Martin Truex Jr.||$13,500||6||4||5||7||4||10||4||17||7||8||7||11|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,000||50||17||16||23||19||20||35||24||23||15||20||8|
If we're going to put extra stock in the 2020 fall race, we should be willing to go back to Ryan Blaney ($10,700) and Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800) despite their struggles last week.
Both drivers had an eighth-place average running position in that race and cashed in with a top-10 finish. DiBenedetto was actually runner-up, equaling where he finished in the other Vegas race last year. Blaney nearly won the 2020 spring Vegas race and had a fourth-place average running position.
As discussed in this week's track preview, we're going to have more of a front-of-the-starting-grid-centric approach this week compared to last week. That's because there just aren't that many quality drivers starting further back. Blaney and DiBenedetto are the two big exceptions.
The other cars with potential speed starting further back are the non-Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing entrants. Aric Almirola ($7,500), Cole Custer ($7,300), and Chase Briscoe ($7,000) are all starting 20th or lower. For Custer, at least, that's not due to a bad outing last week. He was in the top five late in the running but cut a tire with just two laps left. He can definitely scoop some place-differential from the 20th spot. The others work, too, for value.
In addition to Custer, Chris Buescher ($5,000) is another driver starting deep in the pack despite flashing speed last week. Buescher actually won the opening stage and had a 10th-place average running position. Buescher faded as the race went along, but having that speed is truly an eye-opener for a driver at $5,000. With an 18th-place starting spot, Buescher can be someone we utilize if we want to lean on Blaney and Joey Logano ($13,000) for place-differential points without ignoring drivers like Harvick, Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500), and Denny Hamlin ($12,000) to lead laps.
The final note here is that we should be into Christopher Bell ($8,500) despite what appears to be underwhelming data outside of his win at the Daytona road course. He actually had four top-10s at 1.5-mile tracks last year while in lesser equipment, so putting him in the same stable as Truex and Hamlin should make him a contender for the win. His betting odds are selling his upside short, so Bell is a top-notch play even without tons of place-differential appeal as he starts 16th.