NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Crayon 301
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 Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, July 15th
12:05 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, July 15th
1:05 p.m. EST
This should be a good one to play DFS. Though just a track we visit once, we have enough short, flat ovals to have a decent projection of this weekend's race in Loudon.
NHMS has produced some snoozers throughout an era where NASCAR was messing around with substances on the track to "improve" racing, and the short, flat ovals in this year's aerodynamic package haven't been overly entertaining, either.
That should mean our usual type of race from a fantasy perspective. Passing will be hard, the lead won't cycle much, and track position will be at a premium. It's expected that tires will help a bit -- but not a boatload.
With a joint practice-qualifying session on Saturday, this is a pretty standard weekend overall.
General Lineup Strategy
The 301-lap distance creates 30.1 FanDuel points available for laps led, and chances are they'll be pretty concentrated.
In 2022, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell combined to lead 71.0% of the race. The 2021 event was infamously wrecked by weather delays, but in 2020, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin combined to lead 91.7% of the race. A couple of strong lap leaders -- one winning the race -- is pretty normal for this circuit.
It's also incredibly normal for drivers that start at the front to stay there -- even in the COVID era without qualifying. Just one driver starting outside the top-15 spots in 2020 found the top 10, and that number was two in both the 2021 and 2022 races.
It's hard to pass here, and the 1.0-mile track is small enough to get trapped a lap down in the first stage. Place-differential options could be tantalizing, but the data shows they don't typically work out.
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 Gateway (Spring) - 40%
2023 Martinsville (Spring) - 20%
2023 Phoenix (Spring) - 20%
2022 Loudon (Fall) - 20%
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.
Though last week's win wasn't a true indication of form, it's hard to look away from William Byron ($12,500) at any track these days.
Byron won on the flat oval at Phoenix earlier this year, and he led 93 total laps across Phoenix and the short, flat oval in St. Louis. His overall form is excellent on this track type, and he's a high-floor play above all.
However, Hendrick Motorsports hasn't been great here. This track, including last year, has been dominated by Toyota, which is why Denny Hamlin ($13,500), Martin Truex Jr. ($14,000), and Christopher Bell ($13,000) are so high-salaried this weekend.
Hamlin has a top-seven median lap time at all the 2023 tracks in my sample, and he's about as due for a win as it gets. Truex had last year's dominant car, leading 171 laps before Bell swiped the win. C-Bell is absolutely a horse for the course with a win of some kind (including lower series) at this track in five of the last six years.
The most similar track we have in the sample is St. Louis, and Kyle Busch ($11,000) and Ryan Blaney ($9,500) both dominated there. Blaney's hot streak really hasn't ended considering he's finished in the top 10 in each of the last four races he wasn't crashed.
It's a little odd to put Kyle Larson ($12,000) so low considering how well he ran at Phoenix and Martinsville, but he's just never popped here. He's led 16 total laps in his career and has a goose egg in that column with Hendrick. Teammate Chase Elliott ($10,500) has led laps in three straight races here.
This could be a breakout weekend for Brad Keselowski ($8,000). Mechanical issues in St. Louis are weighing down his median blend, but he dominated the 2020 event here, leading 184 laps en route to a win. His general speed is building, which is why he's grading out well in Jim's simulations, too.
Given Toyota's strength, Ty Gibbs ($7,000) might be a sleeper to run inside the top five on Sunday. Gibbs led 49 laps in last year's Xfinity Series race here before an incident, so he's not a total stranger to the venue as a rookie.
However, no two drivers have had this race circled quite like Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola ($7,800) and Ryan Preece ($6,200).
Though Almirola's 2021 win here was aided by rain, he's been a stalwart in Loudon. He had four straight top-11 finishes here entering the 2022 race, and he finished eighth in the first stage last year before a mechanical issue took him out of contention.
Preece is NASCAR's resident New Englander, and he's taken advantage of home games here. Beyond a 16th-place Cup Series effort here for an awful team in 2020, Preece has podium finishes in two Xfinity Series races here and a 53.8% top-10 finish rate in NASCAR's Whelen Modified Series at this track.