How much does starting position matter in Daily Fantasy Nascar?
If you’re new to Daily Fantasy Nascar, this might be one of your first questions. If you’ve tested the waters a few times, I think you’d be quick to notice, that it changes pretty drastically from week to week. Some tracks can make it very hard to pass, which means drivers are less likely to make big moves up and down the field, which would create less opportunity for drivers starting at the back of the pack. Other tracks can make it very easy to pass, which means drivers are more likely to move up and down in the field, thus starting position would matter less. Other things to consider would be the lap based points, sometimes you will see laps led heavily dominated by drivers starting at the top of the pack. Likewise, you may see fastest laps constantly being won by a driver at the front of the pack running in open air, or at a track like Daytona, fastest laps will be more spread throughout the field. One last thing to consider is the total number of laps, a 90 lap race like Watkins Glen has much less value in the lap based points than a race with 500 laps (67.5 points for 90 laps and 375 points for 500 laps).
Enough with the rambling, lets get into some numbers specific to Watkins Glen.
Draftkings Points Breakdown by Starting Row
So, you might ask, what exactly are we looking at here? I’ve taken the Nascar Race Data for every race at Watkins Glen since 2005 and compiled it into this nice little chart to show the average Draftkings Points for each scoring category, sorted by Starting Row. A few things that stand out to me here, are the low number of points for Laps Led and Fastest Laps, this is due to the race only being 90 laps long. This means you’re going to get a majority of your value from Finish Position and from Position Difference. The other thing that stands out is that the strongest positions for DK Point Totals appear to be at the front of the pack and at the very back of he pack. I think the quality scores at the back of the pack may come from top level Drivers that are forced to drop to the end of the field because of an engine change or a penalty before the start of the race, so be on the lookout for that scenario.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the breakdown of scoring categories.
This tells me a few things. Overall, Laps Led and Fastest Laps have very little impact, HOWEVER, if you choose a driver starting near the front, his success is going to depend on being able to eat up some of those bonus points. While if you pick someone starting in the middle to back of the pack, success is going to be almost entirely reliant on where they finish. Think of it this way, if Driver A starts in 1st and Driver B starts in last, and neither gets any bonus points, Driver A can get 46 points at best for finishing 1st and -41 points for finishing last, while Driver B can get as many as 88 points for a win, and only 1 point for finishing last.
What is the Conclusion of this Study?
Starting Position is only a small piece of the puzzle when selecting a lineup, but certainly should not be ignored. While most of your value should include Driver specific data (Consistency, Season to Date, Recent Races, Practice Results, Qualifying Times, Track History and Track Type History), you should always supplement that research with a solid understanding of the effect of starting position. For this weekend, I’d say your #1 goal should be to pick drivers that can finish high, worry less about the lap related points overall, but if you pick someone at the front it should be someone that can hang around up there for most of the day.
Because of the low lap total, contest scores are going to be much lower and much tighter than most races to this point in the season. I expect cash games will be won or lost at around the 160-170 point threshold compared to the usual 185-195 range.
As I mentioned yesterday, this weekend I will be providing some free content. I’ll show some screenshots of my Nascar Prediction Model and Lineup Generator, and give Driver Values and a few sample lineups for cash games and GPPs. Pole Qualifying is tomorrow afternoon, so check back either late Saturday night or Sunday before the race.