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!
For Sunday's Truck Series race, I'm just going to throw up some quick rankings by salary tier. One thing to remember if looking at past stats is that this race was typically run at night in the past. This race will start Sunday just after 11 am local time.
I'm going to cover these two races together because the overall strategy is so similar. It's a plate track with pack racing so we're going to see a number of wrecks that eliminate about half the field by the end of the race. The goal here is to survive as much as possible and limit your downside by using cars starting in the back half of the field. Particularly in cash games, this is really the only strategy that makes any sense.
The specific profile we're looking for is cars starting from about 25th on back that are with bigger teams or are otherwise pretty reliable. Hopefully we can find a few drivers with good track records in these races as well. In the Xfinity Series, I might stretch up to about the 20th starting spot because the back end of the field tends to include some really inexperienced drivers and/or unreliable teams and equipment.
With that background, here's the guys I'm considering for Friday and Saturday night:
Xfinity Series (Friday)
Cup Series (Saturday)
We've been on a pretty good run here since the NASCAR season resumed. I will NOT be posting any updates this weekend due to other commitments I have this weekend. Bad timing that it happens to be a 5 race weekend! I'll be back for the next Daytona weekend.
We saw in the Xfinity race on Saturday how chaotic a race on the Daytona road course can be. With no practice and the possibility of wet conditions, we just have no idea what might happen. So I think we're well advised to play a lighter load this week. I'm pretty much settled on a modified super speedway approach to Sunday's race. Here's how that would work:
Lastly, a few bets I'm playing on Sunday:
Scroll down to see my article for Saturday's Xfinity Series race.
Just a brief write up for the Trucks race here. This race is only 44 laps, so we can't get too caught up in laps led or fastest laps. The bulk of points will be scored from raw finishing position and position difference. As of this moment, my approach is to play this like a super speedway race. That means starting drivers with the best equipment starting from 20th on back. We have a lot of road course specialists starting back there and I have no problem using them in this situation -- particularly when several of them are in Kyle Busch, GMS or Niece trucks.
UPDATE: After watching the Xfinity race, I'm thinking of using one guy starting toward the front who I trust to get a Top 5 and possibly throw in a few laps led. In the last two seasons, Brett Moffitt has been one of the best road course racers in this Series. He starts 3rd and the guys on the front row have no road course experience. I think there's a decent chance Moffitt leads early and, by running out front, he stays clear of the chaos that I do expect to take place deeper in the field.
And a couple of bets I'm playing:
The Xfinity Series will be the first to hit the new Daytona road course this weekend on Saturday afternoon. No one in this Series has ever raced on this road course configuration and there will be no pre-race practice. So there is a lot of unpredictability in this race and I'll be playing a little less than I normally do this weekend.
In addition, there are only 52 laps, so we're only going to have 13 total points awarded for laps led and (after caution laps are removed) a little over 20 total points for fastest laps. That means points for raw finishing position and position difference are key. And any points lost for finishing worse than a driver's starting spot are going to be killers.
I think the first question you need to answer is whether you want to spend up for Austin Cindric or A.J. Allmendinger. Cindric has a good chance of leading early, but there's increased risk with that this week because Chase Briscoe starts right next to him on the front row. So Cindric will face a stiff challenge for the lead from the get go. And, Allmendinger starts much further forward this week, so he's likely to be in the Top 5 pretty quickly and well within striking distance before the end of Stage 1 -- especially in the likely event we see some caution flags early in this race. A race win gives Cindric 46 DK points. So he's going to need another 9 points from laps led and fastest laps to hit 5x value. This is certainly doable, although 55-60 points is really the ceiling of what Cindric can do if everything falls perfectly for him.
As for Allmendinger, he's a very safe bet for a Top 5 finish and very likely a Top 3. I'd expect Cindric and AJ to be on the same pit strategy (going for the win and ignoring stage points), so I think AJ will have to pass Cindric on the track to beat him and win the race. I do like his chances -- especially after rewatching the Charlotte Roval race from last Fall. AJ was just toying with everyone for the first two stages and then ran away with the win in the final stage. He was clearly the best and fastest car there. That track layout is a lot like Daytona and very clearly the best comp to this new layout. The issue with AJ, of course, is his salary and how it hampers the rest of your roster.
As of now, I'm thinking these two guys (plus Briscoe) split the laps led and fastest laps points enough that none of them pulls away and puts up a big number. The best lineup in that scenario is to simply grab as much position difference upside as you can. So, let's look at my favorite plays with that in mind in descending salary order.
We'll wrap up a busy four race weekend with another 312 mile Cup Series race at Michigan. For some reason, Draft Kings continues to release salaries before the Saturday race so we've got some very mispriced place differential plays with the guys who finished poorly on Saturday. That ends up making most of a good cash game lineup for us and should lead to some real chalky plays on Sunday.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that I went back and looked at how the teams have done in other "double header" situations since the season resumed. We had back-to-back races at Darlington, Charlotte and a true double header weekend at Pocono not too long ago. I figure that looking at this could help tell us what teams are doing the best at making the overnight adjustments needed to improve their result in the second race of a back-to-back situation. Four guys stood out:
Don't have much time available to write up something for Saturday's race. The field is loaded up front and I could see any of the Top 5 starters leading at the beginning and for a good chunk of the race. Factor in a competition caution at Lap 15 and it's even more uncertain as to what the guys up front will do.
Also, despite the race name -- FireKeepers Casino 400 -- the race is only 312 miles long with 156 laps. With the uncertainty up front and somewhat reduced number of laps, it might be that the best strategy for this first race is to focus a little more on position difference upside. I'm seeing a lot of good plays starting just outside the Top 10 and I'm still a sucker for the crappy Christopher Bell starting spot.
I'm hoping to have more time to give you a better breakdown for Sunday's race #2.
UPDATE IN BOLD
All I care about is finishing position and position difference here. There are so few laps and so many different pit strategies available that none of the normal dominator stuff matters much to me. Here are some of the best position difference targets I see:
Austin Cindric probably wins this race and should lead a bunch of laps early. With only 45 laps though, can he lead enough and run enough fast laps to outscore the position difference guys starting behind him?
UPDATE -- So this race has some funky, experimental pit road rules that are really going to change pit strategy. They're doing this because it's a stand alone event and they don't have the Cup Series pit crew guys in town to man the Xfinity pit crews. Normally, teams looking to win the race would pit for fuel and tires before each stage break because they stay on the lead lap and then pass all the cars that stayed out to get stage points when those cars pit at the stage break. I don't that works with the new pit rules in place this week.
Here are some key points as I understand them --
I think this could bump up Austin Cindric because he should get the lead early and I think he can keep it most of the race if he follows the strategy right. He will give up a few laps led if he does a fuel stop before the stage break, but he should then cycle back to the lead for the restart. But, having said that, I do expect we'll see some creative strategy plays that could throw everything off and result in an oddball leader for a portion of the race.
FRIDAY ADDITIONS IN BOLD BELOW
I'm going to be focusing on finishing position and position difference in this race. That is because we really don't see any dominators collecting a ton of laps led or fastest laps at Michigan Truck races. In the last three races here, only Kyle Busch in 2017 led more than 26 laps. In the other two races, we've saw multiple drivers lead somewhere between 10-26 laps. Even more important, we rarely see anyone get more than 10 fastest laps because the draft plays such a big role at a long, high speed track like Michigan. In the last three Michigan races, only one driver had more than 10 fastest laps in each race -- and none of them got to 20 fastest laps. In short, we've been seeing dominator points capped at about 15 points in recent Michigan races -- an amount that can easily be matched by position difference scoring.
With that background, I'm going to talk first about four position different drivers I think will be very heavily targeted across the board on Friday night:
I don't see any reason to not use Hill and Self in cash games. As far as other position difference options if you want to go away from JHN or Klingerman, here are my top choices:
Lastly, if you want to try to find a dominator, I think Austin Hill and Brett Moffitt have the best chance of being the guy who puts up the 10+ fastest laps and leads the most laps. The issue with both of them, as I summarized at the start, is that they have no meaningful position difference upside so they're going to need that 10+ dominator points to make it worth using them.
ADDED: I could also see Zane Smith being a guy who can finish in the Top 3 and get you 10 or so dominator points. If salary were no issue, I'd rank him 3rd behind Hill and Moffitt. But salary is an issue and Zane is quite a bit cheaper, so he's worth a look starting 7th which gives him some room for a position difference impact as well.
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