FREE NASCAR DFS Cup Series Indy GP Breakdown, Cheat Sheet and Core Plays

Welcome to my FREE NASCAR DFS break down of today’s Cup Series action from the Indianapolis Road Course!

You’ve read that right – it’s time for another “thrilling” road course race today, marking the first of back to back weekends of tracks with both left and right turns. I’ll be candid: road courses aren’t really my cup of tea, and recent rule changes like the removal of stage breaks don’t exactly amp up the excitement in my opinion. However, there’s a silver lining. The Indy GP has historically been a bit of a wildcard, showcasing unexpected chaos in its first couple of years. So, perhaps there’s hope that today’s race might be a more fun one than your standard road course race.

Adding to the drama? Mother Nature might have her say, with rain and thunderstorms predicted throughout the day in Indy. Remember, they won’t race amid lightning, but a wet track is fair game. This brings an added layer of unpredictability, further elevating the potential for chaos that might unfold today.

Weather woes or not, we’re set for an afternoon charged with fun and drama. So, without further ado, let’s dive into how we can cash in on today’s action to complement a hopeful fun day of racing!

Breakdown

Diving into the specifics of today’s race preparation, there are key factors and metrics we need to consider when determining our lineup. Firstly, a paramount focus should be on driver’s road course performances since the unveiling of the Next Gen car in 2022. With nine races in the next gen, we have a comprehensive sample size to analyze. The statistics from these races can give us insights into which drivers have mastered the nuances of the new car on road courses and who might have the edge today.

Additionally, taking a closer look at the Indy GP’s history in the Cup Series becomes crucial. The two races that have been held at this particular track can shed light on which drivers have previously excelled here, offering a hint about potential frontrunners and dark horses. Lastly, we cannot ignore the most recent data at our disposal – the speeds clocked during yesterday’s practice and qualifying sessions. This real-time data provides a pulse check on who’s currently in form and could very well be indicative of today’s frontrunners.

Delving into the impact of NASCAR’s new strategy of not employing cautions at the end of stages on road courses (RCs), the changes are evident in DraftKings (DK) scoring patterns.

Three races into this shift, the representation within the Top 8 DK scorers has been fairly balanced across the four start ranges. However, one surprising trend has emerged: the front of the field, previously a dominant force in the rankings, has taken a bit of a hit. In 2022, those leading the charge accounted for 33% of the Top 8 scorers. This year, that number has fallen to 25%.

Another  consequence of the stage break removal has been an uptick in position differential scoring.  This is reflected by the fact that 50% of the Top 8 scorers so far in 2023 hail from the back half of the field, showing a 10% increase from the previous year. Furthermore, there were 18 performances in the last three RC races where drivers notched over 10 PD points, a staggering 15 of them secured a spot in the Top 8 of DraftKings scoring.

Now, turning our focus to the zenith of DK scoring in these three RC races, a pronounced trend comes into view. The majority of top scorers have started farther back in the lineup. Two out of the three highest scorers started their races from 31st position or worse. Diving deeper, when lookin at the Top 3 scorers from each race, those starting 31st or worse represent 4 out of 9 performances. When you expand this to include positions 21 and up, they account for a whopping 6 out of 9.

Contrastingly, the drivers who start in the coveted Top 5 spots haven’t been enjoying the same level of success in the realm of DFS this year. They boast only 1 lone top 3 DK performance so far this season. A primary factor underpinning this trend is the diminished potential for dominator points, owing largely to the races having fewer laps.

Addressing dominator points more closely, there’s a discernible scarcity of high-scoring performances in this category on road courses. Out of the entire season, there have been a mere four instances where drivers amassed 10 or more dominator points on a RC. Diving deeper into these statistics reveals another intriguing pattern: of these four performances, just two managed to clinch a spot in the DK Top 3. The other two? They languished at the opposite end of the spectrum, finishing 18th or even lower in DK scoring.

This weekend at the Indianapolis Road Course presents an unconventional strategy opportunity for DFS players. There’s no compelling need to invest heavily in the premium-priced front-runners. These top-tier contenders do look tempting, but their potential to excel is arguably restricted. Even in the event they DO dominate, the implications for your scorecard won’t be as detrimental as you might fear. The risk associated with sidestepping such options is relatively low with the ceiling being capped on these front runners.

The unpredictable elements of this race further cement this rationale. Predictions hint at potential rain, which in conjunction with the notorious turn 1 can spell mayhem, adding a volatile variable to the equation. This heightened unpredictability makes steering clear of chalky, popular picks at the front of the field even more enticing.

An alternate strategy might revolve around identifying underrated, more affordably priced drivers positioned further up in the starting order. These diamonds in the rough have the potential to accumulate a handy 5-6 dominator points and, if everything aligns, might even clinch a top 5 finish. Such selections could offer the dual advantage of upside while also being lower owned.

That said, the linchpin of your strategy for this race should revolve around harnessing the vast array of Position Differential opportunities available. This element is set to be the centerpiece of most lineups, given its prominence on today’s slate. By focusing on these selections, you’re aligning your approach with the dynamics of this particular race, positioning yourself for a potentially fruitful weekend.

 

Cheat Sheet

Below is my cheat sheet for today’s Cup Series race from the Indy GP. I have included all the necessary data to help make your line up decisions today. Working left to right, you will first find results from yesterday’s P&Q session. Then you will see the combined driver data from all RC races in the next gen car since the start of 2022. Finally, the last section of the sheet includes driver data from the 2 races help at the Indianapolis road course in the Cup series. I have highlighted the drivers I like today, with purple indicating drivers that I like more for GPP contest that COULD go under owned.

Core Plays

Top Tier

Favorite Plays – Truex, Larson, Allmendinger

Pivots – Bell, Buescher

For the top tier today, I am looking to get away from the popular options starting towards the front for the reasons I mentioned earlier. The only guys I have interest in above $10k is Truex since he brings some added PD upside to the table. Perhaps the combo of Reddick/Chase pulls some ownership form him as well.

Reddick has been a beast so he’s tough to fade. But his upside is capped, even when he smashed here last year from the pole he only scored 64 points. Yes, it was the most, but the next 5 scorers on the slate averaged 52 DK points, so not putting up a huge gap even at his ceiling. He has started 2nd in all 3 RC’s this season, his results have been finishes of 3rd, 35th and 36th in DK scoring.

Similar reasons for fading Chase, upside capped and heavy ownership. In 2021 he started 3rd here, finished 4th, led 14 laps, and only finished 10th in DK scoring. A similar performance will be hard to contend with the PD scores today.

Larson interests me today as a potential dom. He’s cheaper than the other guys mentioned and he showed solid speed in P&Q. He dominated this race in 2021 and had one of the best cars late at the Chicago Street Course a few weeks ago. Good chance he goes under owned too with the guys up top and the likes of Dinger, Byron and Buescher priced below him.

Bell is another guy who will go under owned today. Toyotas are much better on RC’s this season and Bell put up a 15 Dom point performance last time on one in Chicago. He also led 16 laps in this race last year. He’s burned a lot of people the last few weeks, could be single digit ownership today for a guy that could potentially win.

Dinger is an obvious PD play today. Had added track time in Xfinity yesterday, 6 races here in NASCAR between Xfinity and Cup, he has a win in both series and has never finished worst than 7th here in any series. Though Dinger does not have a win yet on a RC in the Next gen, he has still been one of the best in the series, ranking 4th in Avg position and 3rd in fast lap % with 2 Top 5s and 5 Top 10s. 5th best Avg position on RC’s in 2023.

A potentially lower owned PD option in this range is Chris Buescher. Riding into Indy GP with a Ton of momentum after back to back wins. His Avg finish of 8.44 on RC’s in the next gen car is 2nd to only Chase Elliott. He has 2 Top 5’s and has finished inside the top 10 in 8 of 9 next gen RC races, 2 more top 10s than anyone else. He’s done this while also having the worse Avg start position amongst those priced over $9k, providing a solid source of PD averaging +6 spots per race since start of 2022. He has finished inside the Top 10 in DK scoring in all 3 RC races so far in 2023, and has been Top 6 in 2/3.

Mid Tier

Favorite Plays – Byron, Cindric, McDowell, Harvick

Pivots – Chastain, Gibbs

Byron is another obvious chalk play on the slate today. Speed in practice and has shown speed here in the past. Has to serve a pass through penalty at the start but he will maintain the lead lap and should be able to recover. Only needs to finish 18th or better for value, which he has done in every RC this season and 7 of the last 9.

Cindric is another great road course driver providing PD upside today. Practice speeds looked good. He’s finished Top 10 in both races here which includes a 2nd place finish last year. So far in 2023, despite a terrible season, he has 2 6th place finishes in the 3 RC events. Will be another popular choice.

Someone who will likely be lower owned in this range that provides similar upside to Cindric is my boy Ross Chastain. Trackhouse looks to have speed with Suarez and SVG, and Chastain’s practice times were better than he qualified. He has 2 Top 10 RC finishes in 2023 and he has ran much better at the Indy RC than his past results might reflect.

McDowell has a rocket today and could contend for Dom points at $7500. When looking at RC performances in this next gen car, McDowell comes in with the 3rd best Driver Rating and 3rd best Avg position in those 9 races. He is also tied for the 2nd most Top 10s at 6. So far in 2023, McDowell has the 3rd best Avg position on Road Courses. Not sneaky but still will be somewhat lower owned with the PD around him and his start position.

Harvick is not exactly a RC guy, but this price tag and starting position makes him hard to ignore today. He only needs to finish 22nd or better to hit value today, he has 7 finishes of 13th or better in the last 9 RC races and he finished 14th here in 2021. Also with Harvick, IF this race gets chaotic, you can often count on him to keep the car clean.

Gibbs is also in play in this range as a lower owned pivot for GPP’s. Likely going to need a Top 5 out of him to score with the PD plays in this range, but his practice speeds indicate that he has that capability today. On a solid run of momentum last few weeks in the Cup series and just picked up the W here in Xfinity yesterday. 2 9th place finishes already this season on RC’s as well.

Value Tier

Favorite Plays – Preece, Gilliland, Jones

Pivots – Bowman, Briscoe, Stenhouse

Not someone we generally think about when coming to RC’s, but Preece has shown promise through 3 RC races in this #41 car this season and he is way too cheap. He’s finished inside the Top 15 in 2 of 3 races. His Avg position on RC’s in 2023 is 18.16, that’s 19th best on the season and is better than the likes of Harvick, Briscoe, Cindric, Haley and Jones, just to name a few. All priced way over him. He has also done this while being pretty terrible in qualifying, starting 22nd or worse in all 3 races. Preece starts 30th today and will be a cheap source of PD once again today.

Gilliland is another solid value option today. Solid road course driver who keeps getting better, and this is a track that he had a great run at last year. Looks to have speed again with the 3rd best FL in practice, teammate McDowell was the fastest, so this whole team has found something. Don’t expect him to be sneaky though with those speeds combined with his 4th place finish here last year.

More PD can be found in this range by looking to Jones. Needs to finish 23rd or better to hit value, which he’s done in 2/3 RC races this season and in 8 of the last 9. He’s started worse than 30th 4 times in that stretch. He finished 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 15th in DK scoring in those 4 races. One of those performances came in last years race here.

Bowman and Briscoe are both similar plays that can be used as lower owned value pivots. Need top 10’s out of them for it to work. Bowman’s speed in practice certainly indicated he has at least top 10 potential. Last time he showed speed like this in practice on a RC he ran Top 7 all day and finished 3rd, COTA of this year. I might like Briscoe a touch more though with a few added PD points to him and a great track history here at the Indy RC. His Avg position of 11.9 at this track is 6th best and he has managed to lead laps in both races here prior.

Last but not least, we wrap it up with Stenhouse. A lot of options in this range will keep ownership on Stenhouse down. Ricky has a pair of Top 12 finishes on RC’s already this season and has finished 13th or better in both Indy RC races. He did so last year after starting DFL in 38th making him the 2nd highest scorer on that slate. Somehow, all the chaos we have seen at Indy the last two years and Stenhouse of all people has avoided it all.

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