NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Coca-Cola 600
If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, though!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, May 28th
5:00 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, May 28th
5:35 p.m. EST
We're back to a much more normal format for daily fantasy.
Practice has been immensely important at this track configuration in the new car. At 1.5-mile tracks this season, the winning car has been 6th, 1st, and 4th in single-lap practice speeds. The cars that are coming out and dominating these races are fast in practice, so you're chances to find the right one immensely increases if you're following the session.
Qualifying is also back to a normal single-lap format this weekend. Therefore, we'll see those fast cars more predictably starting towards the front. However, this is a 600-mile race with plenty of historical attrition, so a lot can happen to make a car that's not starting up front eventually find its way there.
General Lineup Strategy
Historically, this race is really the most daily-fantasy friendly one on the calendar.
Usually, races with 400 laps are at shorter tracks with more chaos, and the lead shuffles due to strategy. This puppy seemingly always has plenty of laps led concentrated at the front.
This weekend, you'll take the concentration strategy of finding one or two dominant cars to lead a bulk of the laps and hyper-fixate on them. The lead car in the race has led 327, 164, 116, 377, and 233 laps in the past five races. That's a boatload of fantasy points going to one car, and you're not going to cash a single lineup without them.
In the past three years in the Coca-Cola 600, only 7 of the 30 top-10 finishing cars started outside the top-20 spots. So, place-differential options and "stacking the back" aren't a necessity despite the fact we'll likely see some attrition on Sunday.
However, that was in an aerodynamic package less conducive to passing. I'll still be open to fast cars, drivers, and teams starting in the back, but I'm not going to force place-differential upside considering the pretty wide disparity in speed we saw last week at a similar track in Texas.
Below are my pre-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, track history, recent form, and overall talent level -- in that order. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in Jim Sannes' win simulations were included.
As a great indicator of overall speed, MLT Rank is the driver's average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend's. The prior races in the sample this week are:
2022 Las Vegas (Spring)
2022 Kansas (Spring)
2022 Texas All-Star (Spring)
For dominator viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to potentially lead laps and win the race if they start upfront. A "10" is among the favorites to win the race, and a "0" has no realistic chance to lead the race at any point.
For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to finish in terms of potential to finish inside the top-15 spots. These drivers will be better daily fantasy plays the further back in the field they start for optimal place-differential points.
Unfortunately, some bad processes will land on Kyle Larson ($14,500) this weekend, but he's still a top candidate in this race at his extreme salary.
Larson led 327 laps in last year's event, but that was in an entirely different aerodynamic package. Hendrick Motorsports -- who finished 1-2-3-5 in 2021's edition -- also hasn't had near the monopoly in speed at this track type as last season. The single most encouraging part of Larson's profile is actually his fastest median lap time last week in Texas before crashing out of the event. He's still plenty fast to be that car to dominate the race.
However, I tabbed Kyle Busch ($14,000) in this space as the top dog. He was dominating last week in Texas before a blown tire turned into an explosive crash. He's got the second-best median lap time in my sample, and he led 377 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 four years ago.
Busch headlines the Joe Gibbs Racing options, but all are tremendous. They've posted three of the top-five median lap times in my sample, and Christopher Bell ($9,500) is ninth and holds a much lower salary. Busch, Bell, Martin Truex Jr. ($13,000), and Denny Hamlin ($11,500) make up that group, but don't forget their Toyota teammates Kurt Busch ($8,500) and Bubba Wallace ($6,000).
Even more so than Larson, the one guy I could see spoiling Toyota's parade is Ross Chastain ($10,500). He is criminally under-salaried for someone with the fastest average median lap time ranking on this track type this season. I don't mind last week's winner Ryan Blaney ($12,500) in that spoiler role, either.
Fading the struggling and slower Fords will be my other key strategy. Joey Logano ($11,000) has just the 12th-best median time in my sample, and his finish last week was boosted by winning a mid-race pit-stop competition. On speed, Logano just wasn't a top-five car.
Stewart-Haas Racing is also in an incredibly dark space from the Ford camp. They made up the bottom-three spots in terms of median lap time in last week's All-Star Race, so Kevin Harvick ($8,000) will really need to show something in practice to even consider him at his discounted salary mark.
Chase Briscoe ($6,200), Brad Keselowski ($5,500), and Aric Almirola ($5,300) have combined for eight top-10 finishes this season at different tracks, and their salaries are low enough to merit consideration, but they're also bogged down by this exodus of speed from the Ford camp.
The best value plays likely will come from the ECR brigade that Chastain headlines, including Erik Jones ($7,800), Daniel Suarez ($7,500), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,000), Austin Dillon ($6,800), and Justin Haley ($4,500). I'll be sensitive and malleable to practice speeds to force rank this tier of capable contenders before building lineups.
Haley and Noah Gragson ($3,500) are especially interesting given that Kaulig Racing posted the 17th and 23rd-best combined median lap times last weekend in Texas, and either make jamming Larson and Kyle Busch into the same lineup a much easier task.