NASCAR

NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum

If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America.

NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, though!

FanDuel Research is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide.

With all of this in mind, let's preview this weekend's Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in the L.A. Coliseum from the perspective of playing daily fantasy NASCAR on FanDuel.

Track Primer

Boy, did things change this weekend or what?

Projected extreme weather forced a modified format that bumped this race from Sunday to Saturday night, abbreviating the practice and qualifying sessions today. Only 23 drivers qualified through the unique format that we all learned of today.

That is the unique part of this weekend. For the third straight year, NASCAR has built a 0.25-mile, flat bullring inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This race has led to tight proximity and beatin' and bangin' for two years, which is perfect for an exhibition event to open the year.

Only green-flag laps will count in this 150-lap event, which could leave few survivors if things get hectic. Buckle up.

General Lineup Strategy

If this race is on the cleaner side, you'll want drivers starting up front that are top candidates to lead a bulk of the laps in this race. After all, this is a one-groove track where passing is extremely difficult.

However, no one in this race led more than 45 laps last year. The general mayhem on restarts can cycle cars quickly -- even if a few obvious contenders will emerge to be cycled.

Overall, I prefer drivers starting toward the back this week for volatility purposes, but there was a group of 10ish cars that dominated practice and qualifying times. They'll be the priorities regardless of starting spot.

It's not surprising a bulk of those 10ish cars were drivers and teams that performed well on short, flat ovals a season ago.

Driver Rankings

Below are my post-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, starting order, recent form, track history, and overall talent level -- in that order.

Starting Spot is where the drivers will roll off the grid. For potential lap leaders (i.e. high-salaried drivers), closer access to the front is better. For value plays, a lower starting spot gives a higher floor and access to 0.5 points on FanDuel for each position advanced in the order.

Jim's Sims are the win simulations run by FanDuel Research's Jim Sannes. This week's sims were updated BEFORE practice and qualifying. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in the sims or a top-15 finish this season were included in the rankings.

MLT Rank, the driver's weighted average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar racetracks to this weekend, is a great indicator of overall speed. The prior races in the sample (with weight percentage) this week are:

  • Martinsville (Fall 2023) - 50%
  • L.A. Clash (Spring 2023) - 30%
  • Loudon (Fall 2023) - 20%

Swaim's Rank
Driver
Salary
Starting Spot
Jim's Sims
MLT Rank
1Denny Hamlin $12,500 111.92%1
2Martin Truex, Jr. $13,000 197.32%2
3Joey Logano $12,000 24.66%4
4William Byron $12,500 66.56%11
5Ty Gibbs $9,000 31.54%10
6Kyle Larson $13,000 813.92%8
7Chase Briscoe $9,000 224.26%7
View Full Table

Potential Lap Leaders

Denny Hamlin ($12,500)

There's no doubt about this weekend's favorite now.

Hamlin dominated and won practice, following that by winning pole position for the event. Even before those results, Hamlin's 2023 presence on short, flat ovals earned him the top MLT ranking in my blend.

Hamlin should be extremely popular and result with plenty of negative points if caught up in mayhem, but he's the best car in the field.

Martin Truex Jr. ($13,000)

Last year's L.A. Clash winner is a threat to repeat, but his starting spot made him perhaps the best DFS play in the field outside of Hamlin.

Truex will start 19th after the odd qualifying session, but I won't hold it against him. He was still sixth in practice in a session where Toyota held four of the top-six positions.

His floor is extremely high starting in the back -- even if that same placement could be the undoing of his night with chaos unfolding in front.

Mid-Range Threats

Ty Gibbs ($9,000)

A teammate of Hamlin and Truex, Gibbs wasted no time showing he's got speed to contend with them. He finished third in the practice session before posting a top-five qualifying run.

Gibbs' lack of experience was a concern last year, but with that showing under his belt, he's got the equipment to run with his teammates. The difference? Hamlin and Truex are the top-two cars in my MLT blend from last year, and Gibbs ranks 10th of the 23 drivers that made the field.

While he's definitely a step behind his fellow Toyotas, the salary is forgiving enough to add him into a lineup.

Ryan Blaney ($11,500)

In an event this chaotic, the car starting last has an extremely high floor.

It just so happens to be the 2023 Cup Series Champion, Ryan Blaney, which isn't a coincidence. Blaney only made tonight's field based on a points provisional for winning it all last November.

Blaney's poor qualifying run wasn't ideal, but 14th of 36 cars in practice, so his speed there merited a spot in the field. Plus, several others ahead of him missed the field entirely.

He'll be excruciatingly popular, but a top-5 finish from 23rd on the grid will make him a must in all formats.

Value Plays

Noah Gragson ($7,000)

I wasn't expecting to highlight Gragson in his first race with Stewart-Haas Racing, but he sets up well as a DFS play.

Gragson was 16th in practice (and 14th of cars that qualified), so his speed was decent. Starting 17th, he's got a high floor and has experience in this race after finishing 14th a year ago in much worse equipment.

You'll likely have to leave plenty of salary on the table to really "stack the back" of this chaotic event. Gragson and teammate Chase Briscoe ($9,000) are excellent options to do so.

John Hunter Nemechek ($7,000)

With Toyota dominating the weekend, it's interesting we get one starting 21st of 23 cars.

John Hunter Nemechek isn't a team car of Hamlin, Gibbs, or Truex Jr, but he does drive the same manufacture. In a bit of a surprise, the former Truck Series standout finished 13th in practice and qualified for this event.

While most will flock to Blaney as the car in the back that showed modest speed earlier this afternoon, JHN qualifies as the same type of DFS target.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.