Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: Jockey Made in America 250

The NASCAR Cup Series is heading to Road America in Elkhart Lake, its first trip there since 1956. What do we need to know about the track for our NASCAR DFS lineups?

There's good news and bad news with this week's NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America.

The good news is that they're going to Road America. It's a fun track the Cup Series hasn't raced on since 1956 but has played host to countless other series since, including the Xfinity Series. As with most road courses, it's likely going to give us a good show.

The bad news is that -- with this being a "new" track on the schedule -- we've got same-day qualifying once again. And this time, the window to fill out lineups is even smaller.

The one saving grace is that we know how to handle a race in this mold as we just had it a few weeks ago with Circuit of the Americas (COTA). So, let's start things off by checking out this weekend's schedule before diving into optimal strategies for the race.

The Schedule

A key part of our strategy discussion will revolve around where drivers start. As with COTA, though, we're not going to know that until Sunday.

Qualifying will start at 11 am Eastern on Sunday, meaning it should wrap up before noon. That part is the same as COTA.

The difference is that lock is at 2:30 pm Eastern this time around, an hour earlier than it was then. So, we're going to have a two-and-a-half-hour dash to fill out lineups on Sunday.

Oh, and it's July 4th. Happy Independence Day, indeed.

As discussed with both COTA and Nashville, if you want to fill out +EV lineups, you need to be around in this window. Starting position is a key driver of value in DFS, and filling out lineups without that data will put you in a hole relative to the competition. It sucks, but it's reality. If your goal is to profit as much as possible, either carve out time on Sunday or take a nice weekend off from DFS.

The tradeoff is that we will get practice times once again. The Cup Series will hold one practice session, starting at 12:35 pm Eastern on Saturday. Even with the crazy rain situation at COTA, practice times did still help boost my model there, and they'll likely do the same this week. Let's just hope for clear skies this time around.

Optimal Strategies

The other benefit of having had COTA already on the schedule is that we got to see the viability of our strategy. We entered with the mindset of accepting place-differential where it was presented to us and picking an assumed winner. Both those creeds bore fruit in the perfect FanDuel lineup.

Perfect LineupSalaryStartLaps Led
Chase Elliott$14,500 8th5
Joey Logano$11,000 6th14
Michael McDowell$8,500 23rd3
Chase Briscoe$7,000 27th0
Ross Chastain$5,500 20th4

Chase Elliott won the race, earning him a spot here. Three of the other four started 20th or lower. The one exception was Joey Logano, but all in all, COTA went about as you'd expect.

We should enter Sunday with the same mindset. Our default should be to hunt for place-differential drivers, but we can pick an assumed winner for tournaments, and we shouldn't force place-differential when it isn't there.

Even with qualifying in COTA, there were still fast drivers starting further back. We saw the same thing at Watkins Glen and Sonoma in 2019, too, when there was qualifying. If we find drivers we think will be fast starting further back, we should build around them.

As Logano showed, though, we don't need to stick with just our assumed winner at the front in tournaments. Each of the past four road-course races with qualifying have had at least two drivers in the perfect lineup who started inside the top 10. The 2019 race in Charlotte had three.

Basically, we're allowed to be selective. Finishing points will drive a majority of the scoring this week, so if we can't find good finishing points deeper in the field, we don't have to use those drivers. They can still pay off when starting at the front as long as they're fast enough. That's just not where we should start our search for upside in such a short race.

One way to tackle this is to start at the back of the field and work your way forward. Once you see a driver who you realistically think could get a top-10 finish, note them in your mind. They'll be a good play for DFS. If drivers further back don't have that in their range of outcomes, keep drifting closer to the front until you find drivers who can get those crucial finishing points.

The "assumed winner" strategy is what allows us to still get exposure to the stars. It's fair to assume that guys like Elliott and Kyle Larson will qualify toward the front. That's what fast cars do. Because of the value of the 43 points for a win, those drivers can absolutely still be part of our lives in tournaments. We just will want to make sure we don't go overboard on drivers at the front in individual lineups as just one driver will get those 43 points for a win on Sunday, and the lack of laps to be led (just 62 total for the race) limits the upside for those who can't get the checkered flag.