There are tons of articles out there for the major DFS sports, but not that many that cover some of the lesser known Daily Fantasy Sports. Even though NASCAR DFS isn’t as popular as Fantasy Football or NBA & MLB, it is watched by millions across the US and has a fanbase when it comes to you as a DFS sport.
Even those of you that aren’t regular NASCAR viewers, or may have never even watched a race, have potentially dabbled in DFS NASCAR and would know that it can be a lot of fun. But, like all DFS sports, there is some strategy to the game, and this is what this article will be all about. I’m trying to aim this toward those that are unfamiliar with Daily Fantasy NASCAR but it could also serve as a decent NASCAR DFS strategy refresher for those who have some experience as well.
NASCAR has a similar type of structure to other DFS sports, being that you have a $50K salary cap and you need to select 6 drivers for Draftkings NASCAR DFS picks or 5 drivers for Fanduel NASCAR DFS picks, and remain under that cap. The cap for both Draftkings and Fanduel is $50,000. Typically, there will be around 35+ drivers to choose from and they have a range of price tiers, obviously attributed to the quality of each driver.
- $10k+ – Top or elite drivers
- $8k to $10k – higher tier drivers
- $7.5k to $8k – middle of the road-tier drivers
- $5.5k to $7.5k – low to middle tier drivers
- $5.5k and below – bottom-tier drivers
Usually around the middle of each week is when the driver salaries become available for upcoming races. The salary for any given race will be determined by historical performances at the track being raced and recent overall performance.
- Finish Position
- Fastest Laps = +0.5 Pts
- Lap Led = +0.25 Pts
- Place Differential = +/- 1 Pt
- Finish Position
- Lap Completed = +0.1 Pts
- Lap Led = +0.1 Pts
- Place Differential = +/- 0.5 Pts
In both Fanduel and Draftkings there are 4 ways on each platform that NASCAR drivers earn fantasy points. Finish position of each race lands a driver in 1st place +46 points and this goes back down to +4 points for the driver in last position. You won’t see these points get finalized until the race is finished, but you will see the position points fluctuate throughout the race as the drivers change positions.
Place differential points come about from the position the driver started the race, compared to where they are at any given time during the race. A NASCAR driver will gain or lose one point, or +/- 1.0, each time they either pass another driver, or get passed by another driver. Like finish position, this will finalize at the end of the race completion. Be wary that this can cause a NASCAR driver to get a negative score.
The other two methods of drivers scoring points is when your driver is leading a lap, +0.25 or, they complete a lap the fastest, +0.5 points.
Like all DFS contests, you need to be aware of the starting times of the schedules you are looking at to make sure that you have your lineups locked in on time. For NASCAR, the races are always held on the weekends and information about the exact time and day can be located on the official NASCAR website, or on the website of the track that they are racing at on any particular day.
For each race, driver’s are given practice and qualifying time, which is also dependent on the tracks schedule for a race day. Practice time will either be allocated before or after qualifying, or sometimes it can be both.
Qualifying will determine which position the NASCAR driver will start the race.
NASCAR DFS Lineup Focus Areas
Whilst there are numerous areas to cover when building your NASCAR DFS lineups, I want to discuss four of them here, as I feel these are a great place to start, especially if you are new to NASCAR DFS.
The Track History
Past results are a great way to kick off your research when looking to get some NASCAR DFS picks. There are a few things that you will want to keep a lookout for when it comes to reviewing these results, which are 1) Quality Pass %, 2) Driver Rating and 3) % of laps in the top 15.
The driver rating is probably the best all-round stat to view and gives you a nice starting point. The quality passing percentage is also another great stat as this gives you an idea of those NASCAR drivers that are good at weaving through the field to gain position, and therefore fantasy points. This is especially true if a particularly good driver with high, quality pass % is starting towards the back of the field after qualifying.
Percentage of laps in the top 15 is the last stat here that you will want to look at, as it gives you a pretty good indication of how that NASCAR DFS pick performs at the track they are racing at in the contest you are looking at entering with your NASCAR DFS lineup.
The good new about these three stats around track performance, is that you can do this research a good few days ahead of the actual race, select your main picks and then move on to some other research as race day approaches.
When we talk about qualifying, we are talking about an extremely important part of building your best possible NASCAR fantasy lineup. Spending time looking through the tracks qualifying data will bring to the surface some nice value folks who are starting toward the back of the pack and can gain you some good points as they navigate their way toward the front. For your cash games, you will be able to come across some nice mid-tier drivers which can give you an edge.
To use a completely made up example, Kyle Busch has engine trouble during qualifying and starts the race at the back in 38th position. From looking through the tracks past data, you know that Kyle Busch is great at the track you are looking to add lineups in, making him a no-brainer to add to your lineups as the points differential offers you so much value, because he will weave his way through to the front of the pack and gain plenty of position.
A lot of DFS players may overlook practice but I think you can find a lot of great data if you are willing to spend some time here. Over the course of a weekend, there are usually 3 practice runs. In the first practice, called the qualifying trim, the cars are altered from their race trim to try and get the fastest possible times, over the course of just two laps. This is probably the least necessary practice run to concern yourself with. The second run, the race trim, is truer to how the car will perform over the actual race. Look at the race speeds, 10 laps and 15 laps to see who is getting the faster times, over longer periods. There is still some testing happening in the race trim so be aware of that. Finally the last practice run, the last hour before the actual race, is where final adjustments have been made and you are seeing some true lap speeds. Put this all together and look for some value for your NASCAR lineups.
Driver Talk & Social Media
If you spend time on social media and you follow people in the industry, media folks and also the actual players/drivers themselves, you really can get a lot of “insider” information that can be used to your benefit. In NASCAR, it could also be the difference between big money wins. Drivers at times can complain about different things, typically the car, but it could be about personal on the day, the track conditions and a range of other things. Amazingly, people these days are fairly open to putting things out on social media so do follow people I the sport industry that you are putting DFS lineups on and keep tabs on what they are saying closer to events occurring.
Outside of social media, it would also make sense that if you are available to watch the actual event, and also the qualifying leading up to the main race, drivers get interviewed throughout the weekend and can often spill the beans on things that are annoying them or that they are liking. You can get some gold nuggets from these conversations.
- Is NASCAR DFS cash game friendly?
Yes, it is but you would want to take the right approach, more along the lines of DFS MLB or DFS NHL. If you want long term success you will want to have good bankroll management.
- What score would I need to win NASCAR DFS?
I wish I could give you a magic number here, but it just isn’t possible. The numbers are going to change every week based on how drivers perform. No exact number to look for.
- If a race is postponed or cancelled, what happens?
Head over to Draftkings and read the rules about this HERE, near the bottom.
- Like other DFS sports, is there an option to late swap?
Unfortunately, no there is not. Once the contest starts, everything is locked and that even includes the race not starting on time.
- If a driver gets swapped out for another driver, what happens?
If this driver swap occurs BEFORE the race begins then that driver does not receive fantasy points. If this happens AFTER the race begins then the original driver that you had as a NASCAR DFS pick will credited points that are earned by both the substitute driver AND original driver.
Dominator: This is a driver that ends up leading a significant number of laps over the course of a race.
Elite or high tier: These guys are typically going to be the ones that contribute the most fantasy points to your NASCAR DFS lineups. They are the ones that should be leading laps and making the fastest laps to justify the salary that is applied to them when you are choosing your NASCAR DFS picks.
Value play: These are the drivers that fall under your elite tier, the lower/medium priced drivers and the secondary source of fantasy points. Opportunities for place differential, sometimes lead laps or get fastest laps and potentially get a strong finishing position.
Scrubs/punts: These are your bottom end folks that are cheap and low tier. They will rarely lead or get fast laps but they can at times give you extra value when we look at place differential and where they finish the race. Typically you are selecting these guys as NASCAR DFS picks to save salary and fit in more of the top tier drivers to see more fantasy point output.
Caution flags / yellow flags: Whenever there is a crash on the track, there is debris from collision or just wear and tear of the vehicle, the yellow flags come out and the race is paused for a few laps while everything is cleared. The drivers follow a pace car at low speeds around the track during this time but as the race is still live, the driver in first position is still getting fantasy points for lead laps. Fastest laps do not accumulate points during this time.
Red flag: The red flag will come out when the track condition is far more significant than what would cause the yellow flags to come out. Normally a larger crash, fluids on the track etc. During a red flag and unlike the yellow, the race is frozen until the track is cleared. Once cleared, the yellow flag will come out before the race ultimately resumes.
Lead lap/laps down: When the driver coming last is overtaken by the first place driver, the last place driver is “lapped” and goes a lap down. The first place driver can lap all the way to the second place driver. All the drivers that have not been lapped by the first place driver are known to be on their “lead lap”
Lucky dog: When a caution occurs on the track, the driver in the highest place that is not on a lead lap, gets a lap back.
Penalties: When a driver gets a penalty, typically they are required to make an unscheduled pit stop. They don’t lose any fantasy points for being penalized but the pit stop could cause them to get lapped and also fall back in the field to a lower position.