Tonight marks the first night race on NASCAR’s schedule – the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. TMS is a 1.5-mile quad-oval layout similar to Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Of the two, Texas is more similar to Atlanta because of the high tire wear cars should experience due to an old, abrasive surface. However, the night racing component does make it similar to Charlotte in that regards, and cars should experience a change in handling as sun sets while the race moves from late evening into night. To prepare for tonight’s DraftKings NASCAR Texas slate, you’ll want to review what happened at Atlanta.
Like Atlanta, the most important thing will be to find a car that is strong on the long run, and that can handle the worn tires. Additionally, it will be important to roster the race dominators on your GPP roster to have a chance at winning. In cash games, it may suffice to have only one dominator. As I explained on this week’s NASCAR episode of the On the Daily DFS podcast, Texas usually only has one or two dominators, and it’s unlikely a majority of DFS players will roster two or more dominators should that occur.
As usual, I give give both my cash and GPP picks, along with my fades and machine learning model projections for this weekend’s contests.
If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the restrictor plate section of my track types article. Brush up on your general GPP strategy and game theory if you want to have a shot at taking down a big GPP. If you’re more of a cash game player, check out how to target high floor drivers and how to identify the race dominator.
DraftKings NASCAR Texas MODEL PROJECTIONS
The model projections I create assume that each driver finishes the race. As a result, these finishing position projections will operate under that assumption. However, my machine learning model also calculates the probability that each driver does not finish the race (DNF). A DNF would make that driver useless to your lineup with a finish deep in the field. Drivers with a high predicted DNF are riskier cash game plays, but are just fine for GPP contests.
DraftKings NASCAR Texas CASH GAME PICKS
Jimmie Johnson ($10,400) – Jimmie is a fantastic play in all formats because of his dominance at the track. Johnson has won the last three races at Texas, and five of the last seven. He won at Atlanta this year and at the other high tire wear track, Auto Club Speedway. Johnson starts 11th, so there’s even a small amount of place differential potential. What more needs to be said?
Kevin Harvick ($10,500) – Harvick starts farther back than any race this year, in 22nd. This represents place differential opportunity for the driver that has dominated the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit since his 2014 title run. Harvick was happy with his long run car, as evidenced by the fourth fastest 10 lap average in Happy Hour, and fastest among those who made their 10 lap run later in the session.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($8700) – If you’re looking for a driver who can dominate a portion of this race, Truex might be your best bet. Truex had the fastest single lap, fastest five lap, and fifth fastest 10 lap average in Happy Hour, including the second fastest 10 lap average of those who made their run later in the practice session. Starting third, he’ll be near the front with a chance to take the early lead.
Paul Menard ($6500) – Menard has the right combination of starting far back (25th) and 10 lap speed (20th) among those drivers in the mid $6000 range for me to feel most comfortable using him. Large ovals are his forte, and he has the 18th best driver rating at the three large ovals so far this year. A top 18 finish is reasonable, which would be a 5x value day.
DraftKings NASCAR Texas GPP PICKS
Brad Keselowski ($9600) – It’s too hard to pass on the driver that led 93.4 percent of the laps last time NASCAR visited Texas Motor Speedway. It extends beyond that race as well. Keselowski has three straight top five finishes at TMS, and he has the second most laps led and fastest laps since 2013.
Joey Logano ($10,000) – At a track where Harvick, Johnson, Keselowski, and Kyle Busch, are the big names, Logano could go a bit under-owned. He starts second, so he’s a real threat to take the early lead. He does have some decent track history here too, with the fifth most laps led and fifth most fastest laps since 2013, and a win at this race in 2014.
Greg Biffle ($6500) – Biffle starts too far forward for me in cash games, but I love him as a tournament play. Biffle has 15 straight top 20 finishes at Texas, ran 13th at Atlanta this year, and had the 11th best 10 lap average in final practice. If there’s a guy who can consistently get it done at this style of racing, it’s Biffle. A top 10 is not out of the question, and would net you a 5.8x day from the Biff.
Brian Scott ($5600) – If you are looking for salary relief, Scott is your best bet in the sub-$6000 category. He can even be considered in cash games with a 27th place starting spot. Using the NASCAR Splits App, we see Scott has the best driver rating, average finish, average running position, and the most fastest laps of any driver $6000 or less at large ovals in 2016. Like Menard, large ovals are Scott’s best track type, and with a 18th best 10 lap average, Scott has shown enough speed to move forward. The biggest question mark that surrounds him is always “will he finish the race?”
DraftKings NASCAR Texas FADES
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr ($6400) – Stenhouse hasn’t shown the practice speed in final practice to back up his fifth place qualifying effort. Sound familiar? I wrote that line last week, but changed 13th to fifth. Starting fifth instead of 13th makes it even more likely he moves backward. If he finishes an optimistic 10th place, he’ll still need a couple fastest laps to make value.
Denny Hamlin ($9100) – Hamlin just doesn’t have the track history at Texas (and Atlanta) to make me feel confident using him at his price tag. Hamlin only has the 17th best driver rating here since 2013, and has zero laps led and only 1.8 percent of fastest laps at Texas and Atlanta combined. Stay away.
Clint Bowyer ($7000) – Don’t get sucked in by Bowyer’s 36th place starting spot and 21st best 10 lap average. He’s been mediocre this year, and even a 25th place finish won’t be enough to make value. He’ll need 23rd or better to justify using him at his prcie tag, and I just don’t see it with the lack of speed in the car he’s driving.
Picks Year to Date
Cash Game Picks: 14-11-1 (55.8% – Target 60%)
Fades: 13-6-2 (66.7% – Target 60%)
GPP Picks: 10-18 (35.7% – Target 25%)
RotoDoc holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and is a two-time qualifier for the DraftKings Main Event, The King of the Speedway. Additionally, RotoDoc has won multiple high paying NASCAR GPPs, including both the $100k and $75k tournaments for the 2016 Sprint Cup opener, The Sprint Unlimited.