NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Federated Auto Parts 400
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 discusses 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 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, August 13th
5:00 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, August 13th
5:50 p.m. EST
As we inch towards the fall, repeat tracks will start to come around, and that changes the practicality of the pre-weekend data. There's less guessing as to who will be fast at Richmond since we've actually raced here.
Saturday evening will house practice and qualifying for Sunday's race. It'll be a crucial factor in which cars can dominate early on this short, flat oval.
In the spring, Ryan Blaney and William Byron combined to lead 250 of the 400 laps from the front row. A few weeks ago in New Hampshire, Martin Truex Jr. led 172 of 301 laps from the pole. It's been a pretty easy formula to stumble upon for this style of track.
If those same cars are fast in practice, it should be a gigantic green flag to roster them. However, if a dominant car in practice slips up in qualifying and starts a little deeper in the field, don't be afraid to think they may buck this trend.
General Lineup Strategy
As with most short tracks, the exorbitant lap total (400 in this case) will allow for plenty of FanDuel points (40) available for laps led. That should be the ultimate focus.
Because of the heavy tire wear at Richmond, fast cars can make passes. It wasn't nearly the issue at Richmond in the spring that we've seen at other short, flat ovals this year.
That said, this still isn't a track to go crazy looking for place-differential points. Of the last 30 top-10 finishers here (i.e. the top-10 finishers from the last three races), 22 of them started inside the top-15 spots.
There is a clear separation of top teams and drivers at this style of track at this point. The top-six guys in my median lap time average rankings are also the top-six guys in Jim Sannes' win simulations. With plenty of data, we'll just be looking at practice and qualifying for which of those guys to target in droves this weekend.
You'll notice I've only used 35% of this week's blend of median lap times from the spring race at Richmond. It's largely because diverse tire strategies created noisy data at this track with heavy wear. We can turn to other tracks with more "normal" proceedings to help fill in the gaps.
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 weighted average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend. The prior races in the sample this week are:
2022 Richmond (Spring) - 35%
2022 Gateway (Spring) - 25%
2022 New Hampshire (Fall) - 25%
2022 Phoenix (Spring) - 15%
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.
With 562 laps led over six straight top-five finishes at Richmond, it's easy to position Martin Truex Jr. ($14,000) as the highest-salaried driver this week. It's hard to argue given the way he dominated last month in New Hampshire, leading 57.5% of the total laps before fading late.
I see two other clear contenders, though. One is Chase Elliott ($12,500), who has the highest median lap time average ranking in this blend. The other is Kyle Busch ($13,000), who had the fastest median time in Richmond earlier this year before a late-race tape penalty took him out of contention.
A notable exclusion from my driver pool this week is likely Denny Hamlin ($13,500). Though he won April's race on pit strategy, Hamlin has yet to post a top-eight median time at any of the tracks in this week's sample.
Jim's simulations are in love with Penske's Joey Logano ($10,500), but I prefer Ryan Blaney ($10,000), who now is battling Truex Jr. for the final playoff spot. Blaney also led a race-high 128 laps in April at Richmond. Either are perfect third drivers to choose in top-heavy lineup builds since they can absolutely contend for the win.
After driving past Elliott at Loudon, Christopher Bell ($11,500) shouldn't be excluded just because his salary is much higher than normal. He's got the fourth-best median lap average ranking on this style of track, and he won three of his five Xfinity Series starts here.
This isn't the week to fade the surging Kevin Harvick ($9,500). It was a surprise to see speed out of him last week in Michigan, but he's chewed up short, flat ovals this season. He finished second here in April, and he's also second in the median lap time average rankings.
These short, flat ovals haven't been the specialty of Trackhouse Racing, but I won't count at Ross Chastain ($12,000) until we see practice times. Chastain scored a top-10 finish here last fall in much worse equipment. However, teammate Daniel Suarez ($8,000) has seen a massive drop in speed on these type of tracks. He doesn't even have a top-20 median average ranking.
Aric Almirola ($7,200) has been a hidden gem on short, flat tracks for the better part of two years, but his teammate Chase Briscoe ($7,500) has also popped on this style of track in 2022. He's got the 13th-best median lap average ranking, leading at both Phoenix and Gateway. Remember, he won at Phoenix, as well.
The value tier in April's race was all about RFK Racing. Chris Buescher ($6,200) and Brad Keselowski ($6,000) both posted top-10 median lap times and finished inside the top-15 spots. Keselowski (15th in median lap average ranking) has done a better job of holding that speed at other short, flat tracks than Buescher (22nd).
Other than those two, Austin Cindric ($6,500) and Cole Custer ($5,000) hold top-20 median lap average rankings in the bargain bin, but be open to any cars with decent single-lap or 10-lap speeds in practice. Harrison Burton ($5,500) showed some speed in practice back in April and surprised with an 18th-place finish.