NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: 2024 All-Star Race

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: 2024 All-Star Race

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 NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway from the perspective of playing daily fantasy NASCAR on FanDuel.


Track Primer and General Lineup Strategy

The All-Star Race is a fun reprieve in May before Memorial Day, and NASCAR is running back its 2023 location at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway this weekend.

NWS is a 0.625-mile short track in the North Carolina town, which used to play host to biannual points events through 1996. The Cup Series abandoned the facility, which had struggles keeping up with tracks in larger markets, but the flat, worn-out configuration was home to some of the series' best racing. A plea to bring it back from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other key figures -- led to last year's exhibition race, but it has been repaved after a so-so return.

Of course, the All-Star Race brings a unique format. Special qualifying for this event was cancelled, so the grid was locked in via time trials that included a pit stop. The heat races were canceled due to rain.

As a usual reminder, there will be three extra drivers -- all not in the FanDuel driver pool that will not be added -- that either race in from Saturday's Open race or win the fan vote.

Some of the changes for the 2024 event could add some intrigue. This 200-lap race (20.0 FanDuel points available for laps led) will have mandatory cautions at Lap 100 and Lap 150. There is a mandatory four-tire stop at the first break.

Those stops will be of the utmost importance with two different tire options to deploy throughout the race. One is faster with more grip and wears quicker. The other starts slower but has more durability over the course of the run. I'm glad I'm not a crew chief to decide which should go on at what time.

My final note here is that the All-Star Race changes formats, tracks, tires, and more every year. This is not the week to go overboard playing NASCAR DFS without concrete data or trends on how to build lineups. We want drivers who run up front, pass some cars, and lead laps, but the best place to get them is unknown.

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.

Practice Ranks are provided for both 5-lap and 10-lap average data. Those can typically be found at for all times, including different intervals that may be more appropriate for the track type.

Jim's Sims are the win simulations run by FanDuel Research's Jim Sannes. This week's sims were updated after 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:

  • Phoenix (Spring 2024) - 60%
  • Darlington (Spring 2024) - 20%
  • Richmond (Spring 2024) - 20%

Swaim's Rank
Starting Spot
Practice Rank (10-Lap)
Practice Rank (20-Lap)
Jim's Sims
MLT Rank
1Ryan Blaney $9,000 17116.94%8
2Denny Hamlin $13,000 112217.42%4
3Martin Truex, Jr. $11,000 81243.42%1
4Chase Elliott $10,000 153810.28%10
5Tyler Reddick $9,500 68103.52%2
6Christopher Bell $12,000 363215.38%3
7William Byron $11,500 1313N/A6.32%5
View Full Table

Potential Lap-Leaders

Denny Hamlin ($13,000)

Most of the cars and drivers that were strong in practice didn't qualify well, and all of that daytime activity will be met with a nighttime race. As a result, we are doing a ton of guessing.

I might as well go with the driver who has been the best overall performer on short tracks, which is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has a top-seven median lap at all three tracks in my sample this week, so it was no surprise when he ranked second on both the 10-lap and 20-lap average charts in practice.

Hamlin starts 11th, and that's actually a mild concern for me. We've yet to see Cup Series racing on this surface, but it was brutally difficult to pass in Sunday's Craftsman Truck Series race. Nonetheless, four different trucks did find a way to lead at least 40 of the 250 laps.

If the alternate tire creates more passing, Hamlin should be in the driver's seat. I'd also put his crew chief, Chris Gabehart, at the top of the power rankings to figure out the correct strategy with said tire.

Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000)

With this track now a bit of a smaller blend of Phoenix and the worn out surface at Richmond, Martin Truex Jr. needs to hop to the top of our priority list.

Truex had the fastest median lap at Richmond, and he had the second-fastest median at Phoenix. On anything close to this surface in 2024, MTJ has been a contender.

The veteran can sandbag in practice at times, but his times during the full session (which included cars from the Open race) were encouraging. He was 12th on the 10-lap charts, which improved 4th over the course of a 20-lap average.

From the eighth starting spot, driver #19 might go a bit unnoticed with other place-differential options further back. I really like targeting him in tournaments as a way to be different.

Others to Consider

Mid-Range Threats

Chase Elliott ($10,000)

If we don't really know what we're getting for tonight's conditions, buying generally excellent recent form isn't a bad look.

Chase Elliott has that. He's posted a top five in five of his last seven races, and even last week's exception at Darlington was impressive in DFS. He climbed from 31st on the grid to finish 12th. Elliott seems to have the right answers at present, and he's got an attractive starting position for place-differential points from 15th.

Elliott also had a top-eight average times on the 10-lap and 20-lap charts, so his performance at North Wilkesboro is also a positive.

When comparing starting spot, speed, and current form, you could make an argument Elliott is a top-five play in the field overall at its seventh-highest salary.

Ryan Blaney ($9,000)

The pit-stop component to qualifying wasn't supposed to be the end-all and be-all. Rain caused that to be the case for Ryan Blaney.

Blaney had two penalties during his qualifying run, but under the projected format, he'd have likely been able to advance in his heat race to start much further up in the field than 17th.

However, without them, this is a car you can't ignore from last. Blaney had the very fastest 10-lap and 20-lap average in the field during practice. That backs up solid form from earlier this year at Phoenix, where the "Ry Guy" had a fifth-place median time while finishing fifth.

Blaney is a cash-game staple, and it'll take an incident during the race to deny him a spot in the perfect lineup.

Others to Consider

  • Joey Logano ($10,500)
  • Tyler Reddick ($9,500)

Value Plays

Chris Buescher ($8,000)

I usually live in a stars-and-scrubs NASCAR build, but I prefer a mid-range approach this weekend. Chris Buescher might be an overlooked part of that once again.

No driver has put together a more impressive last two weeks. His second-place effort at Kansas was backed up by leading inside of 10 laps to go at Darlington before Tyler Reddick wiped out the #17.

Buescher had a top-eight median time at Phoenix, Richmond, and Darlington, so I expected him to be strong this weekend. Outside of the top 10 in practice on the 10-lap and 20-lap charts, I'm a bit less certain now.

That seems to be splitting hairs, though. There isn't a realistic contender for the win below him, so I'm receptive to the Texan in builds needing to save salary.

Kyle Busch ($7,500)

This weekend can be a huge surge of momentum, and Kyle Busch definitely needs one.

Busch's RCR team has just three top-15 finishes in their last seven races, and he was outside the top-20 median times at both Phoenix and Richmond. On paper, KFB is no contender to win Saturday's race.

But, in a no-holds-barred exhibition, I'm anecdotally willing to take a swipe at such a talented driver. We saw that earlier this year at the L.A. Clash in February when Busch tangled with eventual race winner Denny Hamlin going for the win. He still finished fifth.

He is one of the Cup Series' best in a situation like this. From the 14th starting position, Busch's salary is low enough to provide a semblance of floor even if this night isn't kind to him. I simply have a gut feeling it will be, though.

Others to Consider

  • Ross Chastain ($7,000)
  • Michael McDowell ($6,000)

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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.