I started this blog to provide a casual, recreational level of fantasy NASCAR advice and discussion. I've been playing these contests for a number of years and am annoyed by lineup sellers and groups of players using the same lineup. I'm hoping to give the casual player some help in building solid lineups that can beat that annoying crowd most of the time. I'm not a "tout" and don't do this for a living, so proceed accordingly. I hope you enjoy the discussion here and Good Luck!
Last week, the key question was what to do with Kyle Busch. The correct answer turned out to be to play him. I happened to win all my cash games and 50/50s even though I didn't use Busch in those contests, but that was a rarity. Roughly speaking, Busch was used in about 50% of the cash game lineups I saw and those Busch lineups cashed about 75-80% of the time. In one contest I was in, 15 places cashed and Busch was on 12 of the 15 rosters that cashed. Only 3 rosters with Busch finished out of the money. So Busch lineups were 12-3. In another, 30 places cashed and Busch was on 27 of the 30 rosters that cashed. Only 8 rosters with Busch finished out of the money. So Busch lineups were 27-8. Bottom line -- most people who used Busch cashed and most who did not use him did not cash.
My experience in tournaments was even more lopsided in favor of using Busch. In the $20K Octane tournament, Busch was on every single one of the Top 45 finishing lineups. He was 48.9% owned in that tournament.
So is there any reason not to use him again this week in Vegas? In the plus column for Busch, he won this race from the pole last year and led 55 laps. In addition, we're starting to get a bit better feel on what teams know what they're doing so I feel a bit more comfortable using some of the salary savers I was hesitant to use last week. On the downside, his salary increased $500 this week to $15,500. And, qualifying was rained out last week, so Busch started 7th and gained +6 position difference points. He's very likely to start on pole this week, so won't have any position difference upside but instead even more downside risk should something go wrong during the race.
Given last week's result, I think we'll see Busch ownership up even more this week. Most who used him cashed, so they'll use him again. Most who didn't use him lost, so they'll move towards him this week. Since I'm guessing his ownership will be 60%+ this week, I'm inclined to use him in all formats because it will be near impossible to cash if he does dominate once again. That said, if you want to take a high risk, high reward approach, you can fade him and you'll certainly cash everything if he does run into trouble. Also, if you play multiple tournament lineups, definitely throw in a contrarian one or two without him so you can cash out there if things go wrong for him during the race.
I'll do a quick update before Friday lock to identify my favorite salary savers to pair with Busch.
Some other drivers with strong history at Vegas are:
This will be the first race using most of the new rules package in the Cup series. In all honesty, no one really has much of an idea how everything is going to shake out when we get 40 cars up to speed using this new package. Now add in the extreme tire fall off at Atlanta PLUS the fact that it's been cloudy all weekend thus far, rained on Saturday night to wash all the rubber off the track, but is predicted to be sunny by race time Sunday afternoon. Simply put, no one can meaningfully forecast how this race will go.
Here are my lineup thoughts:
I'm never going to have a complete rundown on Xfinity or truck races because of the short time between qualifying and the race. So much depends on starting spot and I just don't have the availability to post updates on here after qualifying. I still like to provide a few notes that could help in making some of those roster decisions:
This is the first week we will see the new tapered spacer in action for the Cup series. The new engine package is designed to cut HP down from about 750 to 550. It's expected this will keep the cars closer together. A big question is whether they will be able to actually pass.
Given the dramatic change in the package, I'm not sure how much past results here mean for us this week. I'm going to wait until we see practice on Friday (hopefully, since rain is in the forecast) to do much more analysis. So please check back after we see some on track action.
On to the main event, The Daytona 500. Let's hope it offers a bit more excitement compared to the Xfinity race on Saturday. With the way the cars have played follow the leader around the top of the track this week, I'm a bit worried about our normal plate track strategy of using guys starting from 20th on back. I do think we'll see more action in the 500 though, so I still think that's the way to go for cash games and 50/50s. In tournaments, however, I'm definitely playing it more aggressive (and risky) by using some guys starting closer to the front. Here are some more detailed lineup building notes:
It was awesome to see all the new Draft Kings truck series contests fill up well before lock time. Let's hope it continues and DK increases the prize pools available to our NASCAR crew. On to Saturday's Xfinity race:
The regular season is upon us. There is so much turnover in the truck series that it's really hard to do a traditional analysis. Not many drivers have an established history at the tracks to identify them as good tracks or bad tracks for the drivers. Plus a lot of the analysis has to be done before qualifying since that takes place so close to lock time. All that means the truck updates I do will be more general in nature.
We do still have useful information to help identify some of the best bets to finish near the front on Friday night. So here we go:
I was shocked in a good way to see that Draft Kings is going to run contests for the truck series this year. I love the opportunity that's out there particularly for the truck and Xfinity series contests.
My goal is to post some notes on Thursday/Friday to help you build truck and Xfinity lineups. I won't have a chance to do anything (except possibly post a quick sentence or two) between qualifying and the race for those two series. For the Cup Series, I'll do a comprehensive update Saturday night.
So please check back often. I also tweet out when updates are posted, so follow along there @fantasynascargu
Some general comments on my approach to plate track races. Looking back at 3 years of data from Daytona, it is very clear that you want to build your lineups around guys starting from 20th on back. It is just too risky to take more than 1 or 2 guys starting in the Top 20 because so many of those drivers get involved in an incident and finish from 30th on back. The negative position difference in that situation just kills you. The guys starting further back have much more limited downside and much more substantial upside. So, as a general rule, I'm looking for drivers on credible teams starting further back. When I say a credible team, it means an established team with a good engine shop or supplier and a good pit crew. This should keep unforced errors to a minimum and give your drivers the best chance to finish the race in one piece on the lead lap.
Here are a few drivers who stick out when I study recent Daytona results:
Lastly, if you have not heard about the major NASCAR post-race inspection change announced earlier this week, please go read about it here. The short of it is that post-race inspection will now be done on site immediately following the race. If the race winner fails inspection, he will be disqualified and the drivers who finished behind him will move up a spot so long as they do pass inspection. This could result in major changes to the race results in the hour or two following the race. I have not yet definitively heard if FanDuel and DK will wait to determine and pay contest winners until after inspection is complete. I assume they will, but have not yet seen official word.
Just wanted to give a quick update on Daytona coverage you can expect here. In the next day or two I'll be posting some general Daytona information, including some good and bad driver history here as well as some general strategy points for plate track races. All that can help you build lineups for The Clash this weekend and the 500 the following weekend.
After that, I'll go dark for a few days because I'm moving and won't have a whole lot of TV or Internet access.
Late next week we'll have full coverage leading into the official season opening Daytona races.
Glad to have NASCAR back.
My name is Steve and I've won thousands playing NASCAR fantasy racing games. This blog will share my advice for enjoying and winning your fantasy racing games. I'm also a NASCAR writer at the motor sports website slicksandsticks.com