FREE NASCAR DFS All Star Race Breakdown, Cheat Sheet and Cores

Welcome to my breakdown of this evening’s  All-Star race, featuring the return of the iconic North Wilkesboro Speedway,  after an absence of over two decades. Witnessing the revival of this legendary track, carefully renovated to recapture its former glory, has been an absolute delight and nothing short of a nostalgia trip for NASCAR enthusiasts, myself included.

Anticipation has been sky-high for this event, though the weekend’s preliminary track activities may have fallen a bit short of many fan’s expectations. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that we will witness a fun night of racing once these machines roar to life under true racing conditions with a formidable field of 24 cars.  So without further ado, let’s dive in and explore what awaits us at North Wilkesboro tonight.

Breakdown

All-Star race weekend’s always bring with them an interesting twist in terms of race format. This time around, compared to previous years, the format isn’t too complex: The race consists of 200 laps, neatly divided into two 100-lap stages. Teams will start the All-Star Race on fresh, sticker tires, and will have three additional sets at their disposal. Following the competition break around lap 100, only one more set of sticker tires can be utilized. With North Wilkesboro’s aging track surface, tire degradation will be significant, making tire management a crucial element of today’s strategy.

The field for the All-Star Race includes 21 drivers who have either secured a race win in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, are past series champions, or have previously won an All-Star race. However, the final line-up isn’t completely set. Three additional slots will be filled before the DraftKings slates lock this evening.

Two of these spots will be granted to the top two finishers from the 100 Lap All-Star Open, scheduled for 6:00 PM EST. The final position will be determined by a fan vote, adding an exciting wildcard factor to the mix. These three drivers will occupy the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th starting positions on the grid. As a result, there will be a tight window for adjusting line-ups to include those drivers advancing from the open, if you’re planning to include them.

North Wilkesboro Speedway, a short, flat track, presents an interesting challenge given the series hasn’t raced here since 1996. Therefore, it’s crucial to find comparable tracks to help determine the likely frontrunners. The recent races at Richmond and Phoenix provide useful insights as both events used the same tire code. However, Richmond may prove to be more instructive due to its similarly abrasive track surface. With tire wear anticipated to play a big role, be sure to pay special attention to the long run data from Friday’s 50-minute practice session. I would not put too much stock into driver performances in the heat races, those races were ran with rain tires on a wet surface, completely different than conditions for tonight.

Since the introduction of the new car in 2022, a recurring theme at short, flat tracks is the inherent passing difficulty. This was further corroborated by the heat races we witnessed last night, suggesting tonight’s race will likely follow the same pattern. Track position will be paramount because making headway through the field could prove challenging and time-consuming. Remember, cars that demonstrated speed in practice might not perform as well if they’re starting the race in dirty air due to the difficulty of passing.

To put it into perspective, since the start of 2022, there have been 37 instances of drivers achieving 20+ Dominator points across 11 short track races. Intriguingly, 24 of these performances originated from drivers who started inside the top 10, with 19 of them beginning within the top 5. Furthermore, pole sitters have racked up 20+ Dominator points in 8 of the 11 races. In conclusion, for today’s race, the focus should be on those starting towards the front, given the importance of track position and the increased potential for accruing Dominator points

The race on Sunday is unique in that with only 24 cars participating, opportunities for position differential (PD) scoring will be limited. This is especially true given the anticipated difficulty in passing. As such, it is crucial to not get yourself over invested in those PD plays. Limit yourself to 1-2 in each line up. Not only will this be a different approach than most, the data suggests it is the ideal approach.

Given the small player pool for this race, differentiating your line-up will be key. Leaving money on the table can be a wise strategy, and might prove even more beneficial this week due to the soft pricing.

As I mentioned earlier, teams only have one set of new tires for the final 100 laps. This introduces the potential for a surprise winner – a driver could save their last set of tires in hope of a late-race caution, which would position them with a shot at an upset. For that reason, don’t be afraid to take some chances in a couple GPP builds with some guys that make zero sense as they could end up being your ticket to a big score.

Cheat Sheet

Presenting my cheat sheet for tonight’s All-Star Race from the North Wilkesboro Speedway. This includes critical loop data from the 2023 races at Richmond and Phoenix, which are crucial reference points for tonight’s race. Also included are lap averages from Friday’s 50-minute practice session – particularly note those drivers who improve as the lap count increases. The drivers I’m interested in today are highlighted for easy reference. Those shaded in purple are my top picks for GPP contests. The bottom section of the Cheat Sheet represents those drivers who are in the Open and looking to race their way in to the All Star race. I have highlighted the two drivers I am most interested in if they qualify.

Driver Notes

I’ve learned that you can not go into a race in 2023 without Kyle Larson shares. This team is firing on all cylinders. You know he’s going to be fast and he offers solid PD. One of the few guys in the field that I have zero worry about moving through the field. Doesn’t NEED to score Dom points either.

I have loved Happy Harvick all week so I am certainly not backing off him now. Practice speed was decent but this veteran will likely get a lot better as the laps tick off and those tires begin to wear. He excels at both high tire wear tracks AND short flat tracks, NWS is the perfect combo for Harvick tonight.

Both Harvick and Larson though will likely be amongst the highest owned on the slate.

All the Toyotas looked fast in practice, my favorites though are Bell and Hamlin who each offer dominator upside today. Both these guys normally run really well at Richmond and they both showed great long run speed in practice. Hamlin will likely be the higher owned being the current co-favorite and cheaper. Bell has been one of the best on short flats since the last half of last year and perhaps will go under the radar, making him a great GPP option.

Another rule for 2023; when Larson is fast, so is Byron. Byron also comes in as the co-favorite alongside Hamlin so he too will likely carry some ownership. His car tailed off on the long run in practice, but he smashed at both Richmond and Phoenix this year and is coming off his 3rd win of the season. He also gets to start with solid track position from P6.

Chastain is at a decent price here and he starts 18th. He has been pretty solid on short flats. He finished 3rd at Richmond and had a good run at Phoenix. Has had plenty of track time this week and both the Trackhouse cars look to have speed. Chastain is aggressive, so I have less concerns about him moving through the field as I would others.

Reddick is another PD option on the slate today. I’m not as high on him as I am on the other PD options of Larson, Harvick and Chastain. He had speed in practice, but even he said in an interview that he struggled in dirty air and was fortunate enough to find some clean race track for his last run in practice. Car also didn’t look great in the heat races and this is normally not a track type we expect big things out of Reddick. Will likely be high owned as well, could be a good spot to fade in tourneys.

Last years All Star winner, Ryan Blaney, looks to have speed this weekend as he had the best long run averages from Friday’s practice session. Richmond though is normally not  a great race track for Blaney, and if we are thinking those tracks correlate, then there is strong potential that Blaney could be a bit of fools gold today. Another potential fade option in tourneys as I am sure his practice times will garner ownership.

Richmond however IS a really good track for Brad Keselowski. Short Flat tracks in general are great for Kez and RFK looks to have speed this weekend as both drivers showed long run speed and finished 1st and 4th in heat race #2. Brad will make a great low owned GPP option today.

Briscoe is another guy who will likely come in lower owned tonight and he carries with him a slight chance at dominator points if he can run inside the Top 5 and score fast laps. SHR always has great short flat track cars and we have seen Briscoe score big at both Phoenix and Martinsville. Great option in GPP’s tonight.

Suarez dominated heat 1, albeit on rain tires, not the slicks they will race on tonight. But, track position is huge and no one starts with better track position than Suarez.  There is a chance this race could look like Martinsville where whoever gets the lead just runs away and is impossible to pass. If that happens then Suarez could rack up significant Dom points off the jump.

The best car starting towards the front looks to be the #17 Ford of Chris Buescher.  Buescher was top 5 across every metric in practice. His team then went out and backed it up with a blistering pit stop to qualify on the pole for his heat race, which he turned into a dominating performance leading all 60 laps. This team is clicking on all cylinders this weekend and Buescher is my favorite to lead early in this race.

It’s honestly going to be hard for any of the open drivers to have a big impact in tonight’s race with the terrible track position to start. But, there are a couple drivers who I would have some interest in if they make it to the All Star race, Ty Gibbs and Aric Almirola. Both drivers put up great runs at Richmond earlier this year and both looked to have Top 10 or better speed in practice.

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