While the rest of the sports world is on hiatus until Coronavirus subsides, NASCAR trudges on. Although fans will not be allowed at this Sunday’s race at Atlanta, racing will still go on.
With NASCAR seemingly the only fantasy sport left in town, it means many DFS players will be building NASCAR DFS lineups for perhaps the first time ever. If that’s you don’t sweat it. Below is an introduction to NASCAR and the intricacies of this sport’s fantasy offering. NASCAR is truly unlike any other sport where the lineup building rules don’t remain static. The guidelines change on a weekly basis. Heck, they can evolve within the weekend itself thanks to qualifying.
Awesemo is committed to giving you both quantity and quality NASCAR DFS content during this time. If you haven’t already, check out my preview for this Sunday’s race. A true picks style article will be released on Saturday wrapping up top plays. Also, here is a link to the Model for the Folds of Honor 500. On top of that, the site will release fantasy point and ownership projections as well as Alex Baker’s own rankings.
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An Ever-Changing Puzzle
Imagine yourself sitting at an old kitchen table, like the one in your grandparent’s house, doing a jigsaw puzzle. The rectangular box of oblong and misshapen puzzle pieces states the exact number of pieces. The box also gives you a shrunken version of what the completed puzzle looks like. You pour out the puzzle pieces as they clank around off the old plastic tabletop and you begin assembling. While you may not be a self-proclaimed “puzzle pro,” you know one fact: finding the flat-edged rim pieces of the picture will make the process faster. Thus, you separate the outside of the puzzle from the rest of the pieces. Once you’ve set the edges you begin to piece matching colors and edges together until the puzzle matches your box. After a momentary feeling of pride and accomplishment, you disassemble the puzzle.
A day passes and you return to the cardboard puzzle box ready to recreate the scene, this time presumably faster. However, something is different. The rectangular box full of pieces is still the same width, height and diameter. The picture on the box top remains from yesterday. Yet, now the box lists a different number of pieces than before. When you pour the pieces out you do in fact notice more puzzle pieces. Also, these pieces are smaller. The fifty or so pieces it took to set the edge beforehand has multiplied into eighty. Consequently, because of the smaller pieces, it’s not nearly as obvious as what free pieces should go next to them.
Interested to see if your puzzle changes again, you inspect your jigsaw puzzle a week later. You notice a slight discrepancy once more in the number and size of pieces. Over time you see the puzzle shift size and overall pieces again. While the puzzle itself evolves as far as the individual pieces that comprise the puzzle, the final size and image of the finished picture do not change.
NASCAR DFS at its Core
NASCAR is an evolving puzzle that can be solved with several different piece sizes and number combinations. Yet, still arriving at the same picture week to week. When it comes to building the puzzles of MLB, NFL, NBA, PGA or Soccer DFS you have a puzzle that ends up with the same picture each slate. Regardless of the number of games on the slate; the rules remain static.
NFL will always be played within a sixty-minute game clock time frame. Eleven offensive and eleven defensive players will always be on the field together. I know I want my quarterbacks and running backs as home favorites. NBA will always be a game played within an arena with five players on one team matching up against five players. The higher the pace the teams play at the better. While minutes aren’t everything, combined with usage rates they can definitely shine a light.
NASCAR, on the other hand, is not static. Practically everything within the sport is subject to change. Yes, about forty drivers will drive around in a circle. Congrats, you know an old stereotype. However, NASCAR is prone to change from week to week. This includes the field and number of drivers, the cars used including how they’re set up as well as their engines, and crew chiefs ultimately deciding things like pit strategy. However, the biggest variables that change from week to week are first the size of the track. Second, is the number of laps being run.
NASCAR DFS – Track Types
First, taking the track, or track type, into account means you understand the:
- the likelihood for drivers to wreck
- potential to be lapped if running near the back
- how hard or easy it is for drivers to pass or be passed
- how many lead changes to anticipate
- drivers you expect to lead at least 10% or more of the race
- whether the fastest laps will be garnered by who’s leading the lap or evenly dispersed around the track
- noting that some drivers run better at specific tracks as opposed to others.
In PGA DFS you should be more than accustomed to “course horses”, i.e. Matt Kuchar at Pete Dye-designed courses. Thus, understand that certain driving styles lend themselves to better or worse days at specific tracks.
When you put all of these factors into perspective you should see why you can’t just look at a race track as just another circle. Every track is its own unique playground with different size lengths, overall shape, corner banking, the width of the actual racing surface, not to mention age and type of surface (asphalt, concrete, etc…).
For example, although the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 400 run the exact same amount of laps we do not approach either race the same. As you may know, the Daytona 500 gets treated as a potential wreck fest. Meanwhile, the Auto Club 400 is a much timider race. Daytona lineups get built with chaos on the horizon chasing safety through place differential. On the other hand, Auto Club becomes a race where
“dominators” take the spotlight. More on these terms later…
NASCAR DFS – Laps Run
Second, the actual amount of laps being run at the track.
Why does the number of laps being run at the race need to be a serious point of consideration? Laps ran affect how many laps led points are awarded. On DraftKings these points matter much more than they do on FanDuel. A lap led garners 0.25 points on DK. Meanwhile, that same lap led gains just 0.1 points on FD. While these bonus points may seem minute, they can add up for big scores in the end.
Furthermore, the two competing sites offer extra points according to laps ran. DraftKings awards 0.5 points for the driver who ran the fastest lap each lap. In the end, it means a bonus of 0.75 points for each lap run in the event on DK. Meanwhile, FanDuel gives every driver who completes a lap another 0.1 points. An otherwise meaningless stat bonus. In reality, you’re always going to pick drivers assuming they finish the race.
Why the Number of Laps Really Matters
A race with 500 laps (Martinsville, Bristol) obviously means more of the lap bonus points will be awarded then say an 80 lap road race. As “dominator” (laps led + fastest lap) points increase so do overall fantasy scores. Overall scores become tied to these dominator points and the drivers who accrue them. Thus, correctly picking these drivers becomes crucial to optimal lineup builds.
On the flip side, if a track has fewer than 200 advertised laps like a road course, fewer dominator points are going to be scored. Thus, you instead need to worry about rostering more place differential scoring drivers.
The Slide Rule of NASCAR DFS – the Left
The simplest way to imagine how the number of laps affects lineups is envisioning a slide rule.
On the far left side of the rule, we have road races. Road races like Watkins Glen will see the fewest number of laps. With less than 100 laps, rostering dominators becomes far less important.
In fact, scores on both sites will be comprised of two basic factors – points awarded according to where they finish and place differential. The first factor is simple – the higher the finish the more points a driver gets. The second one is even simpler. It just sounds convoluted because of the name. Place differential is how many spots a driver gains or loses from start to finish. On DraftKings, place differential is worth 1 point while it decreases to 0.5 points on FanDuel.
To the left is the optimal from last year’s road race at Infineon. All six of these drivers finished in the top-ten. All six gained positive differential, some in the double digits.
The Slide Rule of NASCAR DFS – the Right
On the far right side, we have short tracks. These venues see anywhere from 400 to 500 laps. With the increase in laps so do the fantasy scores. Thus, our attention turns to rostering multiple dominators. Most always 2, generally 3, but sometimes even 4.
To the left is the optimal lineup from Bristol in April of 2019. On the expensive end of the salary pool, we have two drivers who led the majority of laps. We have a third driver (Clint Bowyer) who led some laps as well. Finally, our final three drivers gained points via place differential and where they finished.
Notice how in a 500-mile race like Bristol, the need for rostering those dominators increased. Meanwhile, you couldn’t just build a roster full of drivers who finished in the top-ten.
In the middle of this slide rule, you have intermediate tracks. Like Atlanta this weekend. We’ll see competitors run 325 laps meaning we won’t see a complete deemphasis of dominators like a road race. However, we’re not going to need to worry about picking 3-4 lap leaders like a Martinsville event. We will end up somewhere in the middle – dependent on qualifying.
How Qualifying Affects the Slide Rule
This is the wrench thrown in your game of dodgeball. When the slide rule sits anywhere on the left-hand side, a bad qualifying attempt can negate the need for a dominator. Via those place differential points, a driver who drivers from say 35th to 3rd can score as many or more points than a driver who leads the majority of the race.
How to Play NASCAR DFS with “Awesemo” Alex Baker
If you’re still itching for more content to help you prepare for this weekend, click below. Awesemo and myself did an hour-long video going over some of these same concepts. While the video was geared more for the anomaly of plate racing, the concepts still apply.
Looking for more NASCAR DFS picks content? We’ve got loads of articles, data, cheatsheets and more on the Awesemo NASCAR home page, just click HERE