Atlanta Motor Speedway is a 1.54-mile quad oval with a 20-year old racing surface. The aged track is extremely abrasive, causing significant tire wear early into a fuel run. Thus, pit strategy often comes into play, which is how Jimmie Johnson took the race win last year. However, this year there’s an added twist with the introduction of NASCAR’s new race segments. Teams will be strategically pitting in order to win a segment, and gain precious playoff points. I’ll explain exactly how I think this will affect NASCAR DFS strategy for this weekend’s race.
NASCAR DFS Strategy: Atlanta
The Impact of New Segments
Using the NASCAR Splits App, we can see last year that five drivers led a combined 326 of the 330 laps run. Each of these five drivers posted 34 or more laps led. I don’t believe we’ll see that level of dominance among a small group of drivers this year. With teams employing multiple different pit strategies to try to win a segment, I think we’ll see several leaders in the first half of the race.
Each of the fist two segments is 85 laps long. A fuel window at Atlanta last between 50 to 55 laps, so we could see teams pitting as early as lap 30. Some teams may push it another lap or two (or five) before pitting. Yet other teams will try to run it to the end of the fuel window before pitting, hoping that a caution comes out between the time the first drivers pit and when they do.
Then we’ll have a caution to start the second segment, a restart, and more of the same strategy games for the second segment. As a result, laps led and fastest laps will be more unpredictable than they already are.
NASCAR DFS players are notorious for picking drivers starting on the front row at large ovals, trying to rack up the dominator points with them. Because of these possible shakeups in dominator points, fading the front row starters in GPPs a viable NASCAR DFS strategy to differentiate your roster.
Atlanta is Already Quite Random
While nowhere near the randomness of Daytona last week, Atlanta is still a bit of a wildcard track. Predicting finishing position is quite difficult at Atlanta. It rates as the sixth or seventh hardest track among NASCAR’s 23 circuits in my machine learning model’s prediction accuracy (depending on the accuracy metric used).
Playing the ownership percentage game will once again be important. The difference between playing ownership percentages here and Daytona is you will want to pick and choose your spots more wisely. At Daytona it was possible to go underweight on almost every driver starting up front and overweight on almost every driver starting further back. For Atlanta, you’ll want to pick 1-2 chalky drivers1 at a low, medium, and high price range to be underweight on. Then add one or two contrarian drivers at each price range to go overweight on. This is still more than I’d recommend most weeks, but Atlanta ain’t like most weeks.
What’s the best way to find the chalk? First, look at my machine learning model projections which will be updated in my picks and projections article, as well as on the NASCAR DFS Multi-Lineup Optimizer. Drivers with the highest point per dollar projection tend to be chalkier. Second, check out who the industry touts pick. If multiple touts are on the same driver(s), then those drivers will tend to have inflated ownership percentages. Bob and weave accordingly.
- For his or her price tag. (back)