Two NASCAR articles this weekend! Because restrictor plate racing at Talladega is such a unique style of racing, DFS lineups need to be built very different from our usual week-in and week-out roster construction. Are dominators required? If so, how many? Is place differential really king? Where do drivers in the winning and cashing lineups start? I’ll present 10 stats and facts about plate racing to answer those questions and more, as you prepare for lineup building for tomorrow’s race.
1. Starting position for optimal lineups
Since the field shrank to 40 cars in 2016, there have been eight restrictor plates that aren’t the Daytona 500. Here’s a table of the drivers starting positions that ended up in the optimal lineup.
|16Dega 1||16Day 2||16Dega 2||17Dega 1||17Day 2||17Dega 2||18Dega 1||18Day 2|
2. No drivers on the front row have ended up in the optimal lineup
The closest is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who started on the pole andd scored the seventh-most DK points (52) in the first Talladega race of 2017, and Kurt Busch who started 2nd and scored the seventh-most DK points (46.75) at the first Talladega race this year.
3. Breaking optimal lineups down by starting position group
If we look at the 48 drivers who were in the optimal lineup over those eight races, here’s where they started, along with the fraction of the 48 drivers that were in that group. Since you can pick six drivers for a lineup, multiply that by six and you get an estimated DFS optimal ownership fraction for *only* the winning lineup. Note, this is not the game-theory optimal ownership, because for that we have to take into account the full payout structure as well as what lineups could historically end up in each payout bracket. That said, it’s still a nice estimate of where we expect the optimal lineup to come from over the long run.
|Start||Num||Frac of Total||DFS Fraction|
|1 to 4||1||2.1%||13%|
|5 to 8||5||10.4%||63%|
|9 to 12||4||8.3%||50%|
|13 to 16||3||6.3%||38%|
|17 to 20||2||4.2%||25%|
|21 to 24||7||14.6%||88%|
|25 to 28||7||14.6%||88%|
|29 to 32||10||20.8%||125%|
|33 to 36||5||10.4%||63%|
|37 to 40||4||8.3%||50%|
4. The “Sweet Spot” for the optimal lineup is in positions 22 to 32
24 of the 48, or exactly half of the drivers in the winning lineup started in positions 22 to 32. Per the table, it may look like 21 to 32, but no driver starting 21st has ended up in the winning lineup in this eight race sample. That said, there’s probably room for error at the margins, so we can group in a place or two below 22 and a couple places above 32 as well. Ideally, you’d like to have an average of 3 drivers from this starting range in your lineups. You can have some with two, four or five, or even more rarely one or six, but you want to average about three.
5. Dominators in the optimal lineup
In six of the eight races, there was exactly one driver that scored 12 or more dominator points (laps led divided by four, plus fastest laps divided by two) in the winning lineup. The two times that did not occur were 2017’s Daytona summer race where Stenhouse had the most dominator points in the optimal lineup with 7.75 and this year’s second Daytona race where Martin Truex Jr. had 9.0 dominator points in the optimal lineup.
In only one of the six races where a driver did score 12 or more dominator points in the optimal lineup did a second driver score more than 6.0 dominator points in the optimal lineup (the first Talladega race this year, where Alex Bowman scored 10 dominator points).
In other words, we’re probably looking at one dominator in the winning lineup, but maybe zero and rarely two.
6. The eight optimal lineups
Here they are in all their glory (be sure to continue past, as we’ll talk about the top 10 DK points scorers instead of just the top six per race).
|16 Dega 1||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|16 Daytona 2||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|16 Dega 2||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|17 Dega 1||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|17 Daytona 2||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||1||6||58.75||7.75|
|17 Dega 2||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|18 Dega 1||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||5||7||47||6|
|18 Daytona 2||Finish||Start||DKPts||DomPts|
|Martin Truex Jr||2||13||62||9|
7. Average and ranges for the optimal lineup in eight races
Number of drivers with 10+ dominator points in optimal lineup:
- Average: 0.875
- Minimum: 0 (two times)
- Maximum: 2 (one time)
Number of drivers starting in the top five:
- Average: 0.25
- Minimum: 0 (six times)
- Maximum: 1 (two times)
Number of drivers starting in the top 10:
- Average: 1
- Minimum: 0 (two times)
- Maximum: 2 (two times)
Number of drivers starting inside the top 20:
- Average: 1.875
- Minimum: 1 (three times)
- Maximum: 4 (one time)
Number of drivers starting 30th or worse:
- Average: 2.125
- Minimum: 1 (four times)
- Maximum: 4 (two times)
Number of drivers starting 36th or worse:
- Average: 0.625
- Minimum: 0 (four times)
- Maximum: 2 (one time)
8. But what about the top 10 drivers?
Depending on the GPP, you can usually cash with a top 20-25 percent lineup. If we take 25 of the field, that leaves us with 10 drivers. So what does the construction look like for the top-10 drivers?
|1 to 4||5||6.3%||37.5%|
|5 to 8||8||10.0%||60.0%|
|9 to 12||7||8.8%||52.5%|
|13 to 16||6||7.5%||45.0%|
|17 to 20||6||7.5%||45.0%|
|21 to 24||8||10.0%||60.0%|
|25 to 28||12||15.0%||90.0%|
|29 to 32||11||13.8%||82.5%|
|33 to 36||10||12.5%||75.0%|
|37 to 40||7||8.8%||52.5%|
9. The “Sweet Spot” for cashing is in positions 22 to 36
Drivers starting 22nd to 36th make up 41 of the 80 drivers in the top 10 DraftKings points per race, or over 50 percent. The average number of times (out of eight) that a driver in one of these positions ends up in the top 10 DK points is 2.73. Make sure you’re heavier on these drivers than drivers starting 37th to 40th. Those drivers average only 1.75 appearances in the top 10 points totals out of eight races.
10. When moving from top six to top 10, no extra dominators appear
Remember, there were only six drivers with 12+ dominator points to appear in the eight optimal lineups. Well, if we extend it to appearing in the top 10 DraftKings points in a race, that number stays at exactly six. That means we shouldn’t look to add extra dominators if we want to just cash. Stick with mostly 1 dominator lineups, while leaning toward zero over two dominators when you want to vary from the one dominator plan.