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Member Spotlight: DraftKings NASCAR Primer

Member Spotlight: DraftKings NASCAR Primer
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DailyRoto Member Spotlight: DraftKings NASCAR Primer

From time to time we discover great work within our community forums. We like to spotlight our members and highlight their talents on the front page. Here’s Zach “Coolman856” Zielonka with his DraftKings NASCAR Primer

After three weeks of anticipation following the sliver of hope DraftKings gave by posting (and subsequently removing) NASCAR rules on their site, an official partnership between DraftKings and NASCAR has been announced. With the Coca-Cola 600, the dawn of DFS NASCAR is upon us. So, how exactly is this game played and what should you look for? That’s where we are here to help with a DraftKings NASCAR primer.

The Stats and Roster Construction

In DraftKings NASCAR, you have $50,000 to put together a team of five drivers. DraftKings is following the lead of the NASCAR Live game with their scoring system. Below is the breakdown of all of the stat categories and relevant scoring:

Stat Category

Scoring

Finishing Position 46 points for 1st, 42 points for 2nd, 41 for 3rd, decreasing by 1 point for every position thereafter
Place Differential 1 point
Laps Led .25 points/lap
Fastest Laps .5 points/lap
Pass Differential .25 points

Some stats are going to be easier to track while watching a race than others. Finishing position is exactly what the stat sounds like, where the driver finished. The points are dealt out just like they do in a regular NASCAR race, 46 points for 1st place, 42 points for 2nd place, 41 points for 3rd and decrease by one point for each position thereafter.

Place differential is the difference between where a driver started and where they finished. So if a driver starts in 15th place and finished in 10th place, he’ll receive 5 points.

Some stats are not as intuitive though. Fastest laps and pass differential are determined by NASCAR’s loop data. Fastest laps are tracked for every lap in a race and can happen by any driver that is running in the field.

Pass differential is the difference between the number of times a driver passes someone and gets passed under green flag conditions. At first glance you may wonder how this can end up being different than place differential. The reason is if a driver is lapped, it counts against their pass differential but not their place differential (and vice versa).

What’s a Good Score?

Now that we’ve gone through how a driver can earn points, the question is “what can we expect a good score to be?”. After going through the first 12 races of the season, here is the percent breakdown of the number of points drivers have earned.

Number of Points % of Drivers
> 100 2.07
70 – 100 4.91
50 – 60 10.08
30 – 40 28.68
0 – 30 38.24
< 0 16.02

Without having any pricing data to go along with these scores, it’s feasible to expect at least one of the drivers in a winning lineup to score greater than 70 points and the rest to score somewhere between 30-60 points. A GPP winning lineup could very well approach 350 – 400 points.

What are the key things to focus on?

With rosters locking at the drop of the green flag, there is a plethora of information that can be gleaned before and during the race weekend. The most crucial aspect to pay attention to is where a driver qualifies for a race. The place differential stat is one of the largest components of a driver’s score. Finding a cheap driver that can work their way through the field is going to beat just as valuable as finding the race winner.

During a race weekend, there are usually three practice sessions that occur both before and after race qualifying. Those practice sessions are a good way to see which driver has their car dialed into the track and which ones may have some work to do during the race. Completely handicapping a race based on practice results can be tricky though because it depends on the conditions of practice and what the driver and team were working on during that session. Because of the free flowing nature of practice, teams can be working on various scenarios and situations that could affect their overall speed. Just using the speed charts from those sessions may not give a completely accurate assessment on how a driver may fare during the race.

When handicapping before the weekend starts, a few things to look at would be a driver’s current form and their track history. Much like golf, how a driver has performed recently and previously at the track is a fairly sound predictor for future events. There is a statistic that was created by NASCAR called Driver Rating that creates a formulaic approach to how a driver did in a race. Think of it much like what the QB rating is for quarterbacks in football. A perfect rating for a race is 150 and most great race weekends fall in the 100-120 range. A good race will give a rating between 85-100. Comparing driver ratings at a specific track gives a good benchmark to assessing value in early research. I use www.driveraverages.com and www.racing-reference.info for all of my past race research.

Knowing the race format and the type of track the race is being held at is going to drive different strategies in building lineups. In general, the more laps there is for a race, the more points there are to be distributed amongst drivers. Also, the difference in the type of track is going to greatly affect how you approach building your lineup. A race at a restrictor plate track may lend itself to more of a stars and scrubs approach because of the tight nature of pack racing and the fact that any driver has the chance of a top 10 finish. Conversely, a more balanced approach might be beneficial at a 1.5 mile track because better equipment and drivers usually win those types of races.

Finally, keeping an eye on the weather is good to determine whether a race is going to be run or not. Rain affects races much like they do in baseball and could postpone or shorten a race depending on the conditions. A shortened race may lead itself to more aggressive drivers that want to move up in a hurry. It would also lower the number of points distributed because of less laps being run.

With DFS NASCAR in its infancy on DraftKings, there will be a lot to learn and share as the rest of this season continues. Here’s to hoping we find some gold of our own along the way.

Are you excited about DraftKings NASCAR? How will you be picking your teams? 

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