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

Welcome to my FREE NASCAR DFS breakdown of today’s Cup Series race from Texas Motor Speedway. This is not one that I am too excited to write about today. This track is terrible and the racing has been awful here lately. I know that technically the Coke 600 in Charlotte is the longest race of the season, but 400 miles at Texas feels way longer. This feels like a race that never ends as you watch the last few hours of your weekend slowly tick away. I know I am normally a NASCAR over Football guy for life, but that mindset will be on the back burner today with the snooze fest NASCAR has lined up for us. But, if you need to catch up on some sleep with a mid afternoon nap, then maybe Texas is just what the doctor ordered for you. None the less, you guys are here for some DFS advice and someone is going to win the cash today, so it might as well be one of us.

Breakdown

Diving into today’s race prep, we need to pull data from the intermediate tracks on the 2023 schedule. Yes, recency bias does matter today – so let’s put a slightly heavier weight on the fresher intermediate race results.

Track history at Texas offers us another useful perspective, particularly in the aftermath of the 2017 repave and reconfiguration. With a few seasons down, the track has seasoned somewhat, altering the dynamics of the race.

But here’s the clincher: even with all these stats and insights, today’s true success mantra revolves around one phrase – TRACK POSITION.

Texas, frustratingly, continues to be a one-groove racetrack with minimal tire fall-off. After a handful of laps post-restarts, moving through the field becomes next to impossible. Navigating through the onslaught of dirty air, combined with that infuriatingly narrow racing groove, becomes a Herculean task. Overtaking the leader, with the advantage of clean air, feels almost Sisyphean. Case in point: we actually saw Harrison Burton legitimately lead this race last year – thanks purely to pit strategy.

Which brings us to another quagmire. Pit stops. The choice to take 2, 4, or heavens, even 0 tires on a pit stop is going to massively dictate track position. Every pit cycle is a gamble, hoping against hope that one of your rostered drivers emerges from the pit cycle on the right strategy, and hopefully, out front. In DFS terms, this unpredictability makes today’s race a labyrinth. Frankly, it’s yet another check in the box for why this track is terrible.

We see the effect this has on DFS when we look at how the dominator points have been distributed in recent races here. In the last 4 Texas races, we have seen 18 performances by drivers scoring more than 15 Dominator points, and all but 5 of those performances were good enough to land in the Top 6 of DK scoring.

Let’s delve a bit deeper. In two of those last four races, we’ve witnessed six or more drivers in each race surpassing that 15 Dominator point mark. What’s the catch? Cautions. The more they occur, the more the race becomes akin to a revolving door of leaders. For those projecting a cleaner race with fewer cautions, adjust your expectations and build with the anticipation of 1-2 dominant leaders controlling a significant chunk of the race.

Top Dominator Performances Last 4 Texas Races

Given the overwhelming importance of track position at Texas, it’s unsurprising that those who begin the race with this advantage are often the ones reveling in Dominator points by the end. Here’s a fact: 11 out of those 18 Dominator performances were commandeered by drivers who kick-started their race from the Top 6 starting positions. The pole sitter has scored more than 15 Dom points in each of the last 4 Texas races, but has only finished better than 10th in DK scoring once in that stretch. Venturing further down the grid, only on four occasions has a driver outside the Top 10 managed to break into the dominator territory. And if you’re looking for heroes emerging from even further back? Just once has a driver starting outside the Top 15 achieved such a feat.

Yes, Texas Motor Speedway presents a challenge for drivers attempting to weave their way through the field. But let’s not forget: this is an endurance test, a marathon of a race. That extensive length does offer drivers ample opportunities to gradually climb through the ranks and accumulate those sought-after place differential (PD) points.

Navigating the congestion on the track may prove tough, but pit road provides opportunity. Through strategic calls, teams can outmaneuver other teams through strategy, allowing drivers to leapfrog positions without even stepping on the gas. In 2 of the last 4 races here, we have seen 3 guys land inside the Top 5 of DK scoring who have started 21st or worse. Consequently, expect PD to be very important alongside those dominator points today.

Top 5 PD Performances Last 4 Texas Races

 

Final thought for today, embrace the level of unpredictability. There is real potential for some one to surprise us all today with a big score, and there is surely going to be those drivers that may seem like a lock, whom just never find their way to the front of the field.

Cheat Sheet

For your convenience, I’ve assembled a cheat sheet that collates essential data for today’s race. It features performance metrics from all the 2023 races on intermediate tracks, allowing for an in-depth perspective. Additionally, I’ve spotlighted the last three intermediate races specifically to highlight who’s been on a hot streak recently.

The cheat sheet also provides data from yesterday’s P&Q session, capturing fast laps and lap averages. Delving deeper into Texas-specific stats, I’ve integrated crucial data metrics from the past four races at this venue.

To assist in your lineup decisions, I’ve highlighted my preferred drivers for today. For those tournament chasers, drivers marked in pink signify potentially under-owned plays that I’m bullish on.

Core Plays

Top Tier

The clear cut favorites today are the two drivers who have been the fastest over the course of the last 2 months as the post season has progressed, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. Both guys will be very popular today as the each offer a touch of PD to go with their dominator upside. If I had to chose between the two, I’m taking Larson just based off how great he has been at this track. Not sure where ownership come in on Byron, but the PD he offers puts him in play. Byron has also scored 20+ Dom points in each of the last 2 races here at Texas and this team needs a good play off run to build some momentum if they want to contend for a championship.

Of course, with the randomness that goes in to finding the front here, one could make the case for fading these guys today as there is no guarantee that either one finds the front. Sure they can get PD and fast laps without finding the front, but will a Top 5 finish and 20 Dom points be enough for these price tags today?

The next obvious in this range are going to be Blaney and Elliott. Both these guys offer solid PD upside at a discounted price tag from the guys mentioned above. Blaney is awesome at Texas. He is second to only Kyle Larson in terms of Avg Pos, FL% and LL % here. He has been amongst the top dominator performers in each of the last 4 races here and has finished 8th or better in 8 of the last 9 races here. Even though it has been a down year for Chase, he has still managed success on the intermediates with the speed of HMS. He has top 10’s in 5 of 6 such races this season, with 4 of those finishes being inside the Top 6. Dominator upside hasn’t been there, but not sure you need it at this price with he PD potential he offers.

This is where things get fun in this range in my opinion. What to do with the guys starting at the front? Primarily Bubba, Chastain, Kez and Buescher. I think all of these guys need to garner some consideration. Bubba from the pole has the clearest path to those dominator points today being as though he starts with the track position that everyone wants. If we get a clean first stage, I expect Bubba to rack up a ton of points in those first 80 laps. But if we get cautions, then this whole race can flip quickly, so there is that risk here with Bubba along with the rest of these guys. But this team has had the speed on intermediates this season to potentially control this race.

Chastain looked to have solid speed in practice and this is the exact type of track where you would expect him and Trackhouse to show up with speed, his teammate Saurez even had a great qualifying run. You can’t ignore the speed the RFK boys of Buescher and Keselowski have shown either. Both are amongst the top 5-6 in terms of recent speed on intermediates and start towards the front. This does feel like the type of race where one of these RFK guys gets out front and leads a big chunk of the race at a very low ownership. Part of me is intrigued by the idea of fading the higher owned top priced options on the slate today and stacking up these lower owned potential dominators alongside the obvious PD plays on the slate.

Mid Tier

I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the mid tier options on the slate today. If you do land in this range though I think you can go to Almirola for some decent PD. His speed in practice look great, which will drive some ownership here. He has also been pretty consistent on the intermediates recently with Top 17 finishes in each of the last 3. If you are looking for a potentially lower owned pivot with upside, then you can look to Jones. Jones also showed solid speed in practice yesterday and has been on a bit of tear recently on the intermediates with 4 straight Top 10 finishes with his best finish coming the last time we were on one with a 3rd place finish at Kansas.

Value Tier

Per usual, the value tier makes you want to puke today. Not a whole lot to get excited about tbh. That fact alone makes Gilliland a viable option based on his price tag  and start position alone. The driver who has performed the best recently on intermediates in this range has been Burton with an 8th and 17th place finish in 2 of the last 3. Lajoie, has been the most consistent all year with only 1 finish on intermediates worse than 22nd, he was also the fastest of the bunch in practice. Cindric should have the best equipment in this range, but can he do anything with it? He hasn’t been able to do much with the Penske equipment thus far in 2023. Haley could come in lower owned being the higher priced of the options listed here. Him and his teammate Dinger both showed solid speed in yesterday’s practice session and he finished 3rd through strategy in this exact race one year ago.

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