NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Ally 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.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Friday, June 23rd
6:30 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, June 24th
1:00 p.m. EST
The unofficial start of NASCAR's second half (around the only scheduled off week) comes from Music City.
Nashville has been added to the Cup Series schedule since 2021, and it's produced a couple of fair efforts. This 1.33-mile, concrete oval has suffered more from NASCAR's inability to figure out its short-track aerodynamic package than its own surface, which at its best should be a competitive, multi-groove circuit.
Practice will take place Friday in very different ambient conditions than qualifying on Saturday, but the race on Sunday will also be at night. That could open up place-differential opportunities for cars that didn't try to get the balance right for a time trial in sunlight.
Notably, tire wear isn't unmanageable on the concrete surface, so a team's strategy can play a factor in the outcome.
General Lineup Strategy
The poor aero package and 300-lap duration for this race have put laps led at an absolute premium.
In 2021, Kyle Larson led 264 of 300 laps. In 2022, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead 196 of 300 laps, and rain-related yellows played a factor in jumbling the field. Larson's 2021 season was an outlier, so I'd expect a few strong lap leaders again on Sunday.
Of the 20 top-10 finishers in two races here, just 6 of them started outside the top-15 spots. You'd think it was the rain shuffling the 2022 field, but only two drivers started toward the back last year and scored a top 10.
You absolutely need three drivers starting up front with the speed to lead in every lineup since this package has been uncompetitive on shorter tracks. At Dover, three drivers combined to lead 88.9% of the race. At Gateway, two drivers combined to lead 84.0% of it.
Your value plays aren't that crucial if you get all of those laps led in your 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 or a top-20 finish this season were included.
MLT Rank is the driver's weighted average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend as a great indicator of overall speed. The prior races in the sample (with weight percentage) this week are:
2023 Dover (Spring) - 40%
2023 Gateway (Spring) - 30%
2023 Phoenix (Spring) - 30%
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.
The field is seemingly wide open with this unique layout on tap.
I went with William Byron ($13,000) at the top as a safe play. The Cup Series' only three-time winner this season also ran third here in 2021, and he had a top-four median lap time at every track in my sample. It would be stunning if he didn't mix it up at the front.
Jim's simulations prefer Denny Hamlin ($12,500), and I don't hate that at all. Hamlin has a top-seven median time at every sample track and led a race-high 114 laps at Nashville a year ago.
I'd put three others in this top mix -- regardless of salary. Ryan Blaney ($10,500) could carry his momentum through the week off based on track type; he had a top-two median time at both Dover and Gateway. If you smashed those tracks together, it would be Nashville. Hamlin's teammate Christopher Bell ($11,500) and Kevin Harvick ($8,500) are the others with top-five blends.
If there are proverbial "horses for the course", Kyle Larson ($14,000) and Ross Chastain ($10,000) have scored top-five finishes in both races here. Larson enters as the favorite, but he wasn't super quick in Gateway and crashed in Dover, so his sample is a bit rough to confirm that. Chastain, with top-10 averaging running positions at both, should be fine at his salary no matter what.
To me, Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500) is a bit oversalaried, but he can still lead laps here and win. Truex's wins at Dover and Sonoma were ones with a strong track history, but that hasn't been Nashville. He did lead 82 laps before an issue last year, but that's ultimately still resulted in zero top-20 finishes in Music City to this point.
I haven't mentioned Chase Elliott ($11,000), who snuck into victory lane here last year when leading just 24 laps. Elliott also missed the Gateway and Phoenix races in this week's sample while showing mediocre speed at Dover. He'll likely be overdrafted -- as is always the case for NASCAR's most popular driver.
When I said three lap leaders are required, that could bring Tyler Reddick ($9,500) and Joey Logano ($9,000) into the fold. Reddick had the ninth-fastest median at both recent tracks in the sample, so leading would be quite the jump, but it's possible. Logano has a pair of top-10 finishes here.
In the value bin, Alex Bowman ($8,000), Ty Gibbs ($7,500), and Daniel Suarez ($7,000) should just be on the radar with equal equipment to many of the top runners mentioned already, but I am -- perhaps once again foolishly -- still looking at Stewart-Haas Racing behind them.
You can't argue with Aric Almirola ($6,500) having an average finish of 10.5 here when he's done that in consecutive years where SHR was already down on speed. However, I'm more intrigued by teammate Ryan Preece ($5,200), whose breakout campaign could continue here. The short-track ace has won the Truck Series event two years in a row at Nashville.
With two top-16 finishes here at Nashville, Michael McDowell ($4,500) feels like an absolute steal at his salary, and he'll allow access to perhaps even four lap leaders.