NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum
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.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, February 4th
6:00 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, February 4th
8:30 p.m. EST
|Heat Races||Sunday, February 5th
5:00 p.m. EST
NASCAR decided to run it back.
Last year's novelty inside Southern California's football stadium was a smashing success, so it'll also be the exhibition race to kick off 2023. If you recall, the setup is a 0.253-mile flat oval on asphalt that is reminiscent of short tracks across the entire country.
This race also has a dirt-track-style qualifying setup that will make filling out lineups tricky. Practice and qualifying will take place on Saturday, but it'll be the four heat races on Sunday that set the grid, which is what matters for daily fantasy.
That'll give us approximately an hour to fill out lineups while knowing the grid. I'd only play this slate if you're willing to commit to that around 7 p.m. EST on Sunday.
General Lineup Strategy
Last year, this track was a nightmare to pass on.
All 150 laps were led by drivers that started in the first two rows, but we actually saw more variance throughout the field due to some of the calamity and chaos that a full-contact short track will bring.
Therefore, we'll want to lock in drivers from the first three rows who we expect to lead and dominate the race. Given this track style, that trend is very real. Plus, the drivers starting up front will have led and won their heat races, which is a great indication of speed anyway.
Five of the top-10 finishers last year started outside the top 10. We'll see incidents and part failures as teams shake off the rust in this exhibition tuneup.
Oh yeah -- only 27 drivers make the main event feature. I've ranked 31 drivers with a shot to win, per my colleague Jim Sannes' simulations. We'll send nine entries home early in total, and you definitely don't want any of those guys in a DFS lineup.
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 Martinsville (Fall) - 34%
2022 New Hampshire (Fall) - 33%
2022 Phoenix (Fall) - 33%
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 of leading the race at any point.
For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale of potentially finishing 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.
Thousands of hours of research and development have occurred since these drivers and teams were last on track. Drivers fast on short, flat ovals like this one last year might now be terrible on them. But, in the second year of the next-gen car, we should at least lean a little on what we saw last year.
We saw Christopher Bell ($12,000) crush this track type last season, including a win in the penultimate race of the year at Martinsville. He had a shot to win the title at Phoenix before a pit road issue, too. Bell has the fastest blended average median lap time ranking in the sample and is my top guy by default.
Jim's simulations are keen on Joey Logano ($12,500) repeating in this event, and it would be far from surprising. He won the title by way of his Phoenix win in the last race of the year, and he had the third-best median time in the sample. Logano has been a staple at this track type for years.
I'll also include Chase Elliott ($13,000) in this top group. Elliott's median time is skewed by a damaged car at Phoenix, and he's still tied with Logano for the third-best average rank. He's got three career wins on short, flat ovals.
As usual, the offseason brought equipment changes, and that's a huge downgrade to Kyle Busch ($12,500). He's leaving Joe Gibbs' premier stable for a new effort with Richard Childress, and it'd be a bit surprising if he remained at the pinnacle of the circuit. Tyler Reddick ($10,000) has ostensibly taken Busch's place in the Toyota camp.
In addition to their top-10 average median lap time ranking in this sample, Denny Hamlin ($12,000), Ryan Blaney ($11,500), and William Byron ($10,000) have to be three other favorites.
For value plays, Brad Keselowski ($8,000), Bubba Wallace ($8,000), and Austin Dillon ($7,000) also had top-15 average median ranks on this trio of tracks.
We've got new faces in full-time Cup Series rides, including rookies Ty Gibbs ($9,000) and Noah Gragson ($6,000). As Jim mentioned in his betting guide, they're an entirely different case study now that they are focused solely on the top series, and both are with new organizations that won races last year.
I'll be incredibly malleable to practice times and heat performances this weekend. We just don't know who will bare the fruits of their labor on this track type this weekend. My plan is to wait, target the front starters for laps led, and see if I can buy low on some of the stronger drivers last year on this track type.