Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Auto Club Speedway Recap

After a refreshing week off, NASCAR returns this weekend to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500. However, first we’ll revisit the model projections and my picks for the Auto Club 400 two weekends ago at Auto Club Speedway. The race was somewhat nutty, with several tires going down or outright blowing out. This led to multiple cautions and put several drivers back in the running order, including Kyle Busch who by far was the most dominant driver at Auto Club Speedway in years past. Jimmie Johnson was able to use a late-race caution caused by Busch’s tire going down to pass Kevin Harvick for the lead to take the win.


The model projections had the toughest week of the season due to all the tire issues. Even Daytona, notorious for its unpredicatbility, ended up with a better RMSE and R-squared than Auto Club. The R-squared for predicted vs. actual finishing position at Auto Club was only 0.224, putting it well below its historical value in the low 0.4 range. It’s nearly impossible to predict which drivers will be bit by tire or pit problems. Throw in a caution with two laps to go and the resulting pit-stop strategy that added an extra element of randomness, and that’s how you get a historically low model fit at a particular track.

Moving onto the picks, my cash game picks suffered from the randomness as well. They had only a 50 percent success rate at Auto Club, as both the Busch brothers encountered problems en route to poor finishes. Luckily Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made 5.1x value and Brian Vickers at his ludicrously low salary made a whopping 7.8x value. Hopefully you used Vickers along with Harvick to mitigate using Kyle Busch. If so, you probably still had a successful weekend in cash games due to the high ownership level of Kyle Busch.

Only Harvick fared well in my GPP picks to make a top 10 average score among all rosters in the $33 DraftKings GPP this past weekend. Kyle Larson was slowly moving forward, then had the misfortune of a tire going down, causing a very hard, nearly head-first hit into the inside SAFER barrier. Ryan Newman was indeed very low owned, and the race played out to where I thought he could take advantage of a late caution as he had done in years past. However, even with the late caution he could only muster a 14th place finish, leading to GPP misery. He was a risky play, but one I felt worth it at that level of ownership. Finally, Matt Kenseth reached the front, but his year long woes continued with a late race penalty for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop. His luck will have to turn around soon, as he’s been near the front in almost every race, only to have his fortunes turn sour. He could be a surprise play this weekend at Martinsville, where I expect he’ll be low owned. He was running in the top four last fall before contact with Brad Keselowski set him a couple laps down, which led to his famed incident with Joey Logano.

As for my fades, Jamie McMurray technically was a push by cash game scoring rules, bringing the car home in the 10th position that he started. However, he was in the winning GPP lineup oddly enough. I’ll score it as a loss, despite my methodology calling for it to be a push. It’s extremely strange to see a driver make only 4.6x value, yet end up in the winning GPP lineup. A.J. Allmendinger took advantage of other drivers’ issues and had a very strong race, overcoming a poor track history and a relatively high starting position to post a solid 6.8x value day. My last fade, Trevor Bayne, had his day go about as predicted, fading to 20th after starting seventh.

Picks Year to Date

Cash Game Picks: 12-9-1 (56.8% – Target 60%)

Fades: 11-5-2 (66.7% – Target 60%)

GPP Picks: 7-17 (29.2% – Target 25%)


NASCAR returns this week, and DraftKings has another strong slate of contests. Be sure to tune in to not one, but two episodes of On the Daily DFS, as we will have a special episode air Thursday with a very special guest in addition to the normal weekend episode. You won’t want to miss this special episode.

Also, with 500 laps at Martinsville, the race requires a significant amount of extra attention on getting the dominators right. Be sure to tune in later this week to find out who the model likes most for dominator potential.

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Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz
Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
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