Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Food City Dirt Race
I'm a big data guy. I like to have statistical backing for the things I recommend rather than leaning on gut and intuition.
This ain't the week for that.
Bristol, in itself, is a familiar entity for the NASCAR Cup Series. They run here twice each year, and they were actually here three times in 2020 with the All-Star Race being added.
But they haven't run it on dirt, which is how it's set up for this weekend. It's their first time on dirt since 1970.
So yeah, things are less than ideal for nerds like me.
We're going to have to make some assumptions and lean on narratives if we want a read on the race beforehand. Some of those assumptions will be laid out below and in the data sheet. But our one saving grace for daily fantasy is that we will finally have practice sessions once again.
The Cup Series is set to hold a pair of practice sessions on Friday so that drivers can get used to the new conditions. We'll be able to look at that data and see who was fast. We'll also be able to get intel from the heat races on Saturday night, which will determine the starting order.
Once practice is done, I'll circle back to this page and update the data sheet to input the practice times. That's going to be the key data to lean on when making your decisions. I'll also return on Sunday morning to sort drivers by their starting position so that you can identify drivers primed to lead laps and those who could scoop place-differential points. (UPDATE: Practice times from Friday have been added to the sheet. The single-lap times are labeled as "Prac 1" and "Prac 2" while the 10-lap averages are labeled as "10-Lap 1" and "10-Lap 2.")
For now, though, we have to lean on those assumptions and try to get a read on which drivers will perform best and see whom we should monitor most closely in practice.
This week's data sheet is basically just throwing a bunch of brown stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks. It does contain track history at Bristol because the banking is still the same. We've also seen dirt racers like Kyle Larson ($14,000 on FanDuel) run really well there in the past, indicating there could be some overlap.
The current form section is a smorgasbord. The 2021 races (Atlanta, Phoenix, Homestead, and the Daytona roval) are the tracks that either have used the 750-horsepower package that will be in place this weekend or that have featured heavy tire wear. When Bubba Wallace ($9,200) was discussing racing in the Camping World Truck Series on the dirt at Eldora, he said it races more like a slick asphalt track than a dirt one, and that's a characteristic we saw heavily in both Atlanta and Homestead.
The two races in 2020 are from Darlington and Dover. The Darlington inclusion is because it's arguably the track that's toughest on tires in the entire series. Dover is there because it -- like Bristol -- is high-banked and uses the 750-horsepower package.
It's effectively a grab bag of data on races that could overlap with this weekend. By blending it all together, we should at least have an idea of who might be able to tackle this kind of track. But it's also indicative of why we should lean most heavily on what we see in practice and the heat races.
As always, the data included on the sheet is each driver's average running position for the race rather than where they finished. In last year's first Bristol race, Chase Elliott ($13,000) and Joey Logano ($11,000) wrecked while batting for the lead and finished 22nd and 21st, respectively. Their fourth- and seventh-place average running positions are much better indicators of their speed in that race than where they finished.
Outside of the races listed, you can also look at what drivers in the field did in the aforementioned Eldora races. Of the 39 drivers entered, 17 have run in Eldora at least once. It's worth mentioning that they didn't run the track in 2020 due to COVID-19, and it's just a one-race-per-year sample. This means that you're largely seeing drivers at much different age and ability levels than where they're currently at. Wallace won in his age-20 season. Tyler Reddick's ($7,800) third-place run was in his age-19 season. But if you want a read on who at least has some dirt experience in a heavier vehicle, the link there will give you that.
Drivers in this iteration are listed by their FanDuel salary. Also listed are their win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are in fractional form, so Larson being listed at 2.5 means he's +250 to win.
|Martin Truex Jr.||$10,500||20||13||6||3||6||9||6||5||7||3||4||21||12||7||14|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$8,800||18||35||19||21||25||14||12||16||23||18||12||39||23||17||35|
A lot of times, betting odds can be a good guiding light for roster selection as we do want to scoop win equity in our lineups. This might not be the week to roll that way, though.
Most of the dirt ringers -- Stewart Friesen ($8,500), Chris Windom ($6,500), Shane Golobic ($5,500), and Marlar -- carry super short outright odds, hoping to get in front of people who may lean on the dirt background to make their bets. If you make your DFS selections based on win odds, they'll all pop.
But if you look at the truck races in Eldora, it wasn't the ringers who won. It was exclusively drivers who were regulars on the truck circuit or Cup Series regulars in a one-off event. Equipment still mattered, and having a feel for cars of that weight seemed to give an edge to the regulars. We should expect the same this weekend.
Friesen is more interesting than the others because Spire Motorsports is less of a dud from an equipment perspective. But even his salary is higher than that of some experienced dirt racers in better equipment. You'll want to keep your eye on these guys in practice to see if they put up good speed despite the equipment, but you definitely need that confirmation first.
The two guys right behind Friesen in salary -- Reddick and Alex Bowman ($8,200) -- do have a history of dirt racing and are in much better equipment. Reddick's history on dirt is more obvious, but Bowman got his start on dirt before a crash in Las Vegas encouraged him to switch to stock cars. He finished second in an ARCA race on dirt back in 2012, right ahead of dirt racing legend Kevin Swindell. They'll be two drivers to key in on for Friday's practice sessions in hope of getting dirt experience without breaking the bank.
As mentioned, the key data for this week is still to come, so be sure to come back on Sunday morning to see who made noise in the practice sessions and who is starting in an ideal spot. But the data can at least signal to us who we should track most closely in those sessions to see if they'll compete on Sunday.