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DraftKings and NASCAR: Impact and Insights

DraftKings and NASCAR: Impact and Insights
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DraftKings and NASCAR: Impact and Insights

As a longtime NASCAR fan and an increasingly passionate Daily Fantasy player, Thursday’s announcement that NASCAR and NASCAR Digital Media have partnered to create DFS racing games put me in a celebratory mood. Heck, I have been openly campaigning for years for DFS NASCAR to become a reality.  It seems like I have not been the only one, as DraftKings and NASCAR have now delivered first in the DFS space.

“Pursuing ways to connect with our fans on a daily basis while enhancing their viewing experience has been paramount to NASCAR, and Fantasy Sports is a core tenet of that strategy,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Dare I say it that no other sporting contingent knows how to resonate with fans more than NASCAR. They are extremely fan-oriented, and really make a strong effort to make sure the spectators connect with the drivers. The drivers are the most accessible and fan-friendly in all of sports. They realize the importance of fan support and how it helps their sponsors. NASCAR drivers are accessible,engaging and seemingly trained to naturally interact with their fan base, because the sport puts the emphasis on individuals as stars. So as a governing body, NASCAR itself completely understands and respects the strong passion that the Fantasy player has for individuals. This is yet another way for the ultimate fan-friendly sport to get its masses involved.

“We’re thrilled to partner with NASCAR to bring auto racing enthusiasts across the country an unmatched fan experience,” said Jason Robins, CEO and co-founder of DraftKings. Robins, like NASCAR, sees why this partnership has a lot of strong potential. Seasonal Fantasy NASCAR has long ranked among the most popular Fantasy Sports, often just behind football and baseball in that regard, according to past Fantasy Sports Trade Association surveys. So the savvy minds at DraftKings certainly get it. The NASCAR fan base is comprised of passionate diehards in very sizable numbers. They automatically get paid contests, as do seasonal Fantasy NASCAR players with veteran experience.

Yet there will also be free games for the DFS players who are not familiar enough with the sport yet. So the partnership brings more attention to the sport through Daily Gaming. It’s a helluva smart deal. For those speculating on some of the legalities of the games, I’m no lawyer, but I have a ton of confidence that DraftKings has done its extensive due diligence and there is no way NASCAR gets involved in something dicey at such a large level. It’s up to us now to just enjoy the games and for those of us who are NASCAR enthusiasts, this is a real gift. For the DFS player, it’s a new way to enjoy the space and talking to some industry insiders I really respect, this particular DFS genre could grow in an impressive way much like golf has.

Now you can race DFS style on DraftKings, adding to the excitement of weekly Fantasy NASCAR. Photo Credit: NASCAR  Media

Now you can race DFS style on DraftKings, adding to the excitement of weekly Fantasy NASCAR. Photo Credit: NASCAR Media

The first thing many Fantasy players have done, naturally, is to check out the DraftKings scoring system, which can be found right here. Immediately, I see distinct similarities between the DraftKings game and NASCAR Fantasy Live. Finishing position is of the utmost importance of course, but place differential also makes a big difference. Fastest Laps and Laps Led are key categories, but Pass Differential is apparently unique to the DraftKings game.

So a good portion of the strategies and approaches that have been proven successful in NASCAR Fantasy Live should be important keys to faring well on DraftKings. You should not pay attention just to qualifying, but how drivers fare in practices. You should lock in your lineups after the practice sessions, so it’s best to wait it out until those are finished. The Happy Hour/final practices should be the most relevant, as the drivers will be running closest to how they may look in the race in terms of setup and potential performance. Pay close attention to the 10 Consecutive Lap Averages, as well as finishing positions. and are your prime sources for practice leaderboards.

General approaches that have worked well for me include balancing guys who will run up front with those who have started deeper in the pack and may navigate their way forward. Of course, this will vary by track, as at restrictor plate courses, some of the better drivers lay back for awhile before making a later charge. By taking guys who look like they will run up front consistently, you naturally give yourself a better  avenue into the laps led and finishing position categories. It’s important to not overemphasize place differential, as the drivers who start deep in the pack and finish very high are indeed quite rare.

The pass differential and place differential stats are not just random categories that you won’t be able to follow. NASCAR does an impeccably detailed job of recording statistics. . Loop Data statistics are electronically recorded and are major keys to Fantasy success. These stats will become essential in building your lineups, as past stats at a track are excellent indicators of current and future performances. Key stats will include Quality Passes and Average Running Position, among others. We’ll detail the Loop Data categories to consider each week here on in our race previews, and the guys at will use them as a strong basis alsoDriver Rating is the prime stat to fully indicate how a driver performs at any given track. If you are new to the sport and these stats, we’ll do the work for you and explain why they are relevant when we preview each race.

Early examination of the DraftKings salary cap indicates that frontloading a lineup with elite drivers will be very challenging. Most participants will want to lock in Kevin Harvick and build from there, but it’s going to be hard to pair him with a Jimmie Johnson or Joey Logano and build some sort of quality balanced roster. If you are going to roster Harvick, you’ll have to spend a little less on Carl Edwards or Kasey Kahne, for instance, and then pay close attention to lesser drivers who run well in pre-race sessions to fill out your roster.

Of course, the element that is unique to Fantasy NASCAR is the danger that one or more of your drivers can suffer a mishap that totally kills their outlook for the day and smashes your DFS hopes for the race. A wreck can end the race at any time, and at tracks like Talladega, several cars can get taken out at one time. Other potential negatives are running out of gas and pit road issues, among others. It’s comparable to one or more of your Fantasy starters getting injured at any other time in any other Fantasy Sport. The risk factors for your entries in terms of their potential to make it through the event are much higher than in any other Fantasy Sport.

Ultimately, though, this is a landmark day in the Fantasy industry, and a long time coming. Thanks to NASCAR and DraftKings for making it happen. Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, let’s go Daily Fantasy Racing, boys!

What are your thoughts on the DK-Nascar deal? Will you be playing Nascar DFS?


Industry Nascar