NASCAR DFS Pit Stop: Introduction To NASCAR DFS

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 18: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) NASCAR DFS

Welcome the NASCAR DFS Pit Stop: Introduction to NASCAR DFS. I will be doing a weekly NASCAR article to help you pick your race teams for the upcoming 2019 NASCAR season. Each week I will give you my favorite Leaders of the Pack drivers, which will typically be the high-priced drivers that will most weeks be up at the top of the leader board and give you the higher point totals. I will then also give you the Back of the Pack drivers who will be the lower priced guys at the back of the starting grid but who a chance to pick up some big points based on where they are starting, or how they have fared in their career at that track each week. 

My purpose in writing this article is to hopefully bring some new DFS players to track each week and pick up a new, fun, sport to help ease the loss of NFL on Sundays, as well as help give the current NASCAR DFS players a refresher or new way to look at the sport. My articles will be geared towards DraftKings since that is the only site I used for NASCAR, but most of it should translate over to FanDuel as well.

In this piece I will give you roster construction, scoring breakdown on DraftKings, strategy for building lineups, and then just some old faces in new places.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 07: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Stars Stripes and Lites Ford, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR DFS : The Basics

NASCAR DFS is offered mainly through DraftKings and FanDuel and is a salary cap game similar to MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL to name a few. Teams are made up of six drivers on DraftKings and they have to fit under the typical $50,000 budget, giving you an average of $8,333 to spend per driver. The driver’s salaries will change from week-to-week and track-to-track based on a variety of things, but the top drivers will generally cost the most ($9,000 and up) while the lower tiered drivers will generally  cost the least ($6,000 or less). There are only four things that get you points (or cost you points) in NASCAR DFS for DraftKings

1) Position Differential

2) Fastest Laps

3) Laps Led

4) Finishing Position

Position differential is simply comparing the starting position to the finishing position of a driver and if they gain or lose points. As an example, if a driver starts 18th but finishes 5th they will gain 13 points, but if a driver starts 5th and finishes 18th, it’ll be the reverse where the driver will lose you 13 points. Drivers will gain .5 points for having the fastest lap regardless of position on the track. Drivers then gain .25 points for leading a lap. Lastly at the end of the race drivers will gain points based on finishing position. First place earns 46 points, 2nd earns 42 with each position earning one less than the previous position all the way down to 40th which earns 4 points. As an example, Driver X  leads 100 laps in a race, runs 50 laps as the fastest car on the track and finishes 4th after starting 20th which would earn this driver over 100 points for that race, a great total.

PHOENIX, AZ – NOVEMBER 11: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, leads Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol e15 Chevrolet, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, and Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway on November 11, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

NASCAR DFS: Roster Construction

Now that we got the basic stuff out-of-the-way, let’s move onto roster construction. One of the most useful resources to research NASCAR DFS is loop data, which are statistics gathering the overall performance of a driver for the duration of their career at a track, which basically means how well a driver performs at a specific track.  Loop data combines numerous categories such as Laps Led, Average Finishing Position, and Percentage of Laps in the Top 15, which provide DFS players strong indications of which drivers perform the best at each track. Loop data provides players significant details on who can pick up plenty of points under the DraftKings scoring system. You can research individual categories at sites such as the Motor Racing Network (mrn.com), or just read my weekly article in which I will use this same info when picking my drivers for my lineup builds.

Another important stat to look at is the final practice times. There is typically a Thursday practice session before qualifying and then one on Saturday after qualifying. As I said in the opening of this paragraph I want to use final (Saturday) practice times because this is the practice session where the cars are in race trim and you can get a good idea of who is running the best in race trim as opposed to qualifying trim. You can find these times poster on sites like NASCAR.com or ESPN.com after the final session.

One strategy I hardly ever use is taking the pole sitter for a race, with the exception being from short tracks (I.E: Bristol Motor Speedway). When you look at the pole sitter they cannot gain you any position differential points, only lose them. I say you can use the pole sitter for short tracks because there is very little passing there and those tracks have the most laps so there are a plenty of laps led points to earn. It is a decision that will be yours to make, but it is a risky choice better left for GPP lineups. When I build my GPP and Cash I will have the same basic core of 3 or so drivers that I use in both, but I will vary the remaining drivers based on the contests. I will look at the stats, and track history, when putting my cash team together and not consider how hot a driver is coming in, but for GPP’s I will look less at track history and more at current history and how a driver is rolling along currently.

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 14: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, races Daniel Suarez, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Craftsman Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2018 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR DFS : Old Faces in New Places

Kurt Busch : Busch will move to the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Chevrolet after spending 5 years at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Ryan Newman : Newman is leaving Richard Childress Racing for the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Daniel Hemric : After a few years of being off the track the No. 8 is returning to Richard Childress Racing in 2019 with cup series rookie, Hemric.

Martin Truex Jr. : The 2017 series champion was left without a ride after Furniture Row racing folded after the 2018 season. Truex found a ride recently in the newly Daniel Suare vacated No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (more on Suarez to come)

Matt DiBenedetto : DiBenedetto will take over the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing team. A huge makeover will take place at LFR in 2019 with DiBenedetto taking the No. 95 ride, which changes from Chevrolet to Toyota as part of the team’s new affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Jeffrey Earnhardt : Earnhardt gets a 9 race deal in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Hopefully Earnhardt performs well and gets the remainder of the 2019 season in the JGR ride.

Daniel Suarez : Suarez joins the aforementioned No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing that was vacated by Kurt Busch

Thank you for reading my introduction to the 2019 NASCAR DFS season! I hope this was a helpful guide to get you started in the NASCAR DFS game or get you a new look on it. Please feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any questions (@MVecchio81). I hope you come back weekly to check out my articles on NASCAR (and also my daily NHL article) and I can help you cash every week!