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Cap Considerations

DFS: Sonoma

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

NASCAR visits back-to-back wild card tracks with the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, but no two wild cards are the same.

Road courses are considered wild cards because the skill involved in going fast on this track type is dramatically different than experienced on ovals. While the winners are almost always marquee racers who also threaten on the more standard configuration, the top 10 is often made up of fresh faces. And therein lays the challenge for fantasy owners. Picking a well-balanced lineup with some sleepers and specialists will be the key to victory in Daily Fantasy this week.

Kurt Busch is the most expensive driver in Draft Kings and with good reason. He has been stellar on the combined road courses, at Sonoma specifically, and in the past nine weeks of this season. He has a current three-race, top-five streak on both twisty tracks, enters with four top-fives—including a win—on the track formerly known as Infineon Raceway, and has a nine-race, top-10 streak this season. That combination of momentum and road skill is going to be hard to beat.

A majority of players will have Busch on their roster, which means one trick is going to be determining which dark horses to ride. With a salary cap of $7,700 in Draft Kings, Clint Bowyer is the 17th-most expensive driver. This places him solidly mid-cap and is well below the average cost per player of $8,333. That opens up some options at the top of the cap, especially when one considers that all but two of his 10 career starts on this track have ended in top-10 results. Clearly there is not a better value on paper than Bowyer. Road courses are drivers’ tracks, which means there is no penalty for the funding that HScott Motorsports lacks compared to the superteams.

Cole Whitt could be one of this week’s greatest values. He finished 27th in his first Cup road course race and then crashed later in 2014 at Watkins Glen International. Last year, he made up for the mistake in New York with a pair of results in the low-20s. If he stays out of trouble this week, he could easily score a finish in the teens, which will pay huge dividends with a price tag of $5,100 in Draft Kings. Only two drivers are cheaper.

Dark horses can also be found among marquee drivers if they are likely to fly under the radar. Carl Edwards is not the first to come to mind on road courses, but he has been incredibly solid there. In 2013 and 2014, he swept the top-five and scored a victory at Sonoma. Last year, he crashed out of this race and finished only eighth at the Glen, which may cause the competition to look elsewhere. That will be a mistake worth exploiting since three of his last five attempts on this twisty track ended in top-fives.

Jimmie Johnson enters Sonoma with a seven-race, top-10 streak on this course. If he continues to run like he has all season that is going to come to an end on Sunday. Even if he manages to stay out of trouble, a result outside the top five is likely since his last three efforts on this course landed between sixth and 10th. He is simply too risky to command a price of $10,000.

AJ Allmendinger is another driver overvalued in Draft Kings. He won at the Glen a couple of years ago to qualify for the Chase, but that is looking more and more like a pyrrhic victory. That is his only top-20 in the past two years and even though he had nine straight results of 13th or better on road courses preceding 2014. He would be an acceptable risk if his value remained in the high $6,000 to low $7,000 range where he has been all year, but with a road-race bump to $9,600 he is about $2,500 too expensive.

Race Day Score

In addition to Draft Kings, there is another Daily NASCAR competition. Race Day Score offers not only Cup contests, but XFINITY, Camping World Truck Series, IndyCar, and NHRA games. Since no two salary cap managers think alike, there are always different values in each game. While Draft Kings has an average cost per player of $8,333, Race Day Score is currently at $10,000 per player and that changes the economics.

Race Day Score’s games are also salary cap driven. The Cup games requires players to take six drivers like the Draft Kings game. The key to success in playing both games each week is to note the differences between the two contests. For example, Kurt Busch is the most expensive driver in Draft Kings, but he is only the seventh-most expensive driver for Race Day Score. That is going to make him even more popular in that contest.

Race Day Score has the Penske pair bunched together. Only one of them is an acceptable value at $11,800. Joey Logano has finished outside the top 15 only once in his last six road course races. That was a 16th at Sonoma in 2014, but he made up for the deficiency with a fifth in this race last year and a victory at the Glen. Logano’s average since the start of 2013 is a solid 7.7.

Keselowski’s average finish in the past three years on road courses is an anemic 17.7—10 spots worse than his teammate. That came despite the fact that he scored a second-place result in summer 2013 at the Glen. He also had runner-up finishes in New York in 2011 and 2012, but his best Sonoma effort was a 10th in 2011. That is his only top-10 on this course.

When looking at the very bottom of the order, one often wants the cheapest driver who is practically guaranteed to earn positive points. Whitt is a good value in both daily fantasy games, but he is a little more expensive in Race Day Score than the bottom five drivers (with a tag of $8,000). For $400 less, Michael McDowell might be a more attractive option if he means the difference between taking one more marquee driver than the competition. McDowell has plenty of road course experience, but he will need to practice well and qualify modestly to ensure maximum points.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is another driver who is a better value in Race Day Score than Draft Kings. His price in this game is $10,500, which places him just above the average value mark. In Draft Kings, he is priced at $9,700—which is well above the $8,333 average. That will make a difference in light of his slightly uneven performance at Sonoma. His last three efforts on this track produced a 12th, third, and seventh that leaves fantasy owners wondering which driver is going to show up this week.

Draft Kings Averages

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Avg.
Points

 Avg.
Salary
Cap

Attempts

% of
Max
Points

Cost
per
point

Avg.
Max
Points

Kevin Harvick

6.00

61.96

$10,300

6

57.5%

 $          166.24

107.83

Brad Keselowski

6.50

53.67

$9,043

6

49.8%

 $          168.50

107.83

Chase Elliott

7.17

54.29

$8,486

6

50.3%

 $          156.30

107.83

Kurt Busch

8.00

48.75

$9,371

6

45.2%

 $          192.23

107.83

Matt Kenseth

8.83

47.71

$9,471

6

44.2%

 $          198.53

107.83

Martin Truex Jr

11.67

75.33

$9,643

6

69.9%

 $          128.00

107.83

Clint Bowyer

12.33

40.75

$6,986

6

37.8%

 $          171.43

107.83

Kyle Larson

13.67

42.29

$8,200

6

39.2%

 $          193.89

107.83

Kasey Kahne

15.00

31.17

$8,214

6

28.9%

 $          263.56

107.83

Ryan Blaney

15.33

35.58

$7,286

6

33.0%

 $          204.75

107.83

Jamie McMurray

15.33

35.50

$7,671

6

32.9%

 $          216.10

107.83

Joey Logano

16.83

36.79

$9,714

6

34.1%

 $          264.03

107.83

AJ Allmendinger

17.00

30.96

$7,371

6

28.7%

 $          238.11

107.83

Ryan Newman

17.50

29.75

$7,286

6

27.6%

 $          244.90

107.83

Carl Edwards

18.67

26.96

$9,814

6

25.0%

 $          364.05

107.83

Austin Dillon

18.83

26.50

$8,071

6

24.6%

 $          304.58

107.83

Danica Patrick

19.33

28.88

$6,286

6

26.8%

 $          217.69

107.83

David Ragan

20.00

27.04

$5,743

6

25.1%

 $          212.37

107.83

Trevor Bayne

20.33

28.75

$6,414

6

26.7%

 $          223.11

107.83

Landon Cassill

21.50

27.08

$5,943

6

25.1%

 $          219.43

107.83

Tony Stewart

21.83

21.58

$7,757

6

20.0%

 $          359.40

107.83

Jimmie Johnson

22.17

25.67

$10,214

6

23.8%

 $          397.96

107.83

Ricky Stenhouse Jr

23.67

20.58

$6,986

6

19.1%

 $          339.39

107.83

Dale Earnhardt Jr

23.83

12.75

$9,557

6

11.8%

 $          749.58

107.83

Michael McDowell

24.25

23.13

$5,500

4

19.7%

 $          237.84

117.50

Ty Dillon

24.50

23.88

$6,300

2

27.0%

 $          263.87

88.50

Cole Whitt

24.83

21.96

$5,043

6

20.4%

 $          229.66

107.83

Paul Menard

25.50

13.46

$6,643

6

12.5%

 $          493.59

107.83

Regan Smith

25.83

16.79

$5,714

6

15.6%

 $          340.30

107.83

Greg Biffle

26.17

17.58

$6,700

6

16.3%

 $          381.04

107.83

Kyle Busch

26.50

16.67

$10,057

6

15.5%

 $          603.43

107.83

Denny Hamlin

26.83

10.83

$8,814

6

10.0%

 $          813.63

107.83

Aric Almirola

27.50

15.96

$6,571

6

14.8%

 $          411.79

107.83

Chris Buescher

28.00

14.83

$5,400

6

13.8%

 $          364.04

107.83

Reed Sorenson

28.40

15.80

$4,800

5

13.6%

 $          303.80

115.80

Michael Annett

28.50

12.42

$5,100

6

11.5%

 $          410.74

107.83

Casey Mears

29.17

13.33

$6,029

6

12.4%

 $          452.14

107.83

Brian Scott

29.50

9.83

$5,500

6

9.1%

 $          559.32

107.83

Josh Wise

29.60

14.80

$4,867

5

12.8%

 $          328.83

115.80

Jeffrey Earnhardt

31.33

9.00

$4,767

3

6.7%

 $          529.63

135.00

Matt DiBenedetto

32.67

3.79

$5,686

6

3.5%

 $       1,499.53

107.83

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeb Burton

24.00

25.50

$5,100

1

 

 

71.00

Joey Gase

30.00

14.00

$5,400

1

 

 

103.00

The chart shows the driver’s average rank within the Draft Kings games, the average number of points earned during the past six weeks, average salary cap, number of attempts, and the percentage of the maximum number of points earned during the events they ran.

Send a note to Dan Beaver @FantasyRace on Twitter and tell him which other Daily Fantasy NASCAR games you would like to see profiled.

 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.