NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Ally 400

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Ally 400

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 Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway from the perspective of playing daily fantasy NASCAR on FanDuel.


Track Primer and General Lineup Strategy

NASCAR has to be thrilled at the prospect of Nashville Superspeedway racing like an intermediate track this weekend.

In one of the south's most raucous cities, this 1.33-mile concrete oval has the potential to deliver the same type of exciting racing we saw at Kansas and Charlotte last month. 14 degrees of banking in the turns is a bit flatter than both, but any banking is a welcome change.

From a daily fantasy perspective, we don't really race at a true apples-to-apples comparison. The concrete surface is similar to that at Dover, but the extreme banking there produces a different style of racing. Typically, drivers that have succeeded on 1.5-mile tracks in a given year have won here, so I've blended it all together to try and produce an aggregate assessment of where this weekend's top drivers stand.

Even with weather impacting the 2022 event, this has been a track where the lead has stayed extremely concentrated in certain hands. The top-two lap leaders in the inaugural 2021 race led 277 of 300 laps (92.3%). In 2022, that percentage was 65.3%, and last year, Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin combined to lead 60.0% of the laps.

That -- plus a 300-lap distance -- are more like a short track from a DFS perspective. The same goes for our trends among top finishers. Of the 30 top-10 finishers in three Nashville races, only 6 of them (20.0%) started outside the top 20. I'm a bit less governed by that when racing at intermediate tracks has been spicier in 2024 across the board.

Overall -- and per usual -- we'll want to target two (or three) cars that can lead a good chunk of the laps, and we'll weigh projected speed with starting position to determine who the best value plays are to pair with them.

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:

  • Dover (Spring 2024) - 40%
  • Gateway (Spring 2024) - 15%
  • Kansas (Spring 2024) - 15%
  • Charlotte (Spring 2024) - 15%
  • Las Vegas (Spring 2024) - 15%

Swaim's Rank
Starting Spot
Practice Rank (5-Lap)
Practice Rank (10-Lap)
Jim's Sims
MLT Rank
1Ryan Blaney $10,000 182111.00%2
2Denny Hamlin $13,500 1201918.16%1
3Kyle Larson $14,000 4997.50%5
4Ross Chastain $12,500 20324.84%12
5Martin Truex, Jr. $11,500 17171210.66%3
6Chase Elliott $12,000 1327163.42%9
7Joey Logano $9,500 26871.94%20
View Full Table

Potential Lap-Leaders

Kyle Larson ($14,000)

Though it's justifiable to turn to polesitter Denny Hamlin in cash games, I don't want to forget Kyle Larson above him.

Larson has been the single most dominant driver in the Cup Series at intermediate tracks with two wins (Las Vegas and Kansas) and a second-place finish at Dover. He's turned in a top-eight median time at all five tracks in this week's median blend expect Charlotte, where he was unable to start due to travel delays.

It's not as if track form doesn't lean his way, as well. Larson won the inaugural Ally 400 by leading 264 of 300 laps and has three top fives in three starts in Music City.

At the track this weekend, Larson was ninth on both the 5-lap and 10-lap average charts in practice and will start three spots behind Hamlin (4th). He could get to the front early and leads Sunday's event as a tournament pivot.

Ross Chastain ($12,500)

We don't normally see Ross Chastain's salary this high, but the defending winner of this race has a knack for the concrete at Nashville.

Chastain has three top-five finishes -- just like Larson -- in the three races at this venue, leading 103 laps between them.

I was just a bit concerned about his current form at this track type, but his speed hasn't been poor. He has a top-15 median time at all five tracks in this weekend's blend. He shrugged off those concerns quite a bit by ranking third on the 5-lap charts and second on the 10-lap charts during Saturday's practice session.

I'd have a devilish decision whether to back or fade Chastain's practice sample if he were starting up front, but a disappointing qualifying session will see him roll off 20th.

At worst, he's a top contender for a top-10 finish, and that result with place-differential points to follow can still work -- even at this elevated salary.

Others to Consider

  • Denny Hamlin ($13,500)

Mid-Range Threats

Ryan Blaney ($10,000)

Before qualifying, I'd have expected Ryan Blaney to be a key threat for Sunday's pole.

Blaney has gotten better the shorter the "intermediate" track has been. He posted a top-five median lap time at both Dover and Gateway, and he's still been a top-11 car on speed at all five tracks in this weekend's sample.

From there, the Penske driver largely won practice. He was fastest on the 10-lap charts with a comparable result (2nd) on the 5-lap charts.

Those who rely exclusively on track history might miss the defending champion this weekend. Behind an ugly average finish at Nashville (25.3) lurks two accidents and a third-place effort in his only completed event (2022).

Like Chastain, all doubts about Blaney should be erased when considering the fact he starts 18th. Saturday's practice showed he's one of the quickest cars in town, and it won't be necessary for him to lead to pay off this mid-range salary.

Ty Gibbs ($8,500)

Admittedly, I've cursed Ty Gibbs with misfortune any time I've put him in the DFS helper, so tread carefully around the #54 with his inclusion at Nashville.

Nonetheless, the 21-year-old is knocking on the door of his first Cup Series win despite my best efforts. He's done well on this track type with a top-15 median lap at each track in the blend, so I wasn't surprised to see him extremely quick in practice.

On Saturday, Gibbs was fourth on both the 5-lap and 10-lap average charts. That's a similar result to his seventh-place median lap rankings from my formula this weekend, and Toyotas -- including the polesitter Hamlin -- have had a leg up in general to begin the weekend.

Gibbs' starting spot (8th) isn't as sexy as Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano -- all outside the top 15 -- in this same salary tier, so I actually think he could go a bit unnoticed despite the quick times in practice.

One of these weeks, Gibbs is going to pop for a dominant effort out front in the fashion of his teammates -- Hamlin, Truex, and Christopher Bell -- for most of the season. He'll be a lock for the perfect lineup at $8,500 if it's this one.

Others to Consider

  • Martin Truex Jr. ($11,500)
  • Joey Logano ($9,500)

Value Plays

Bubba Wallace ($7,200)

Speaking of Toyotas with speed, not many seem to have more than the one under Bubba Wallace's feet.

Wallace had a top-three time on the 5-lap and 10-lap charts in practice, which wasn't overly surprising given his manufacturer and some of the efforts we've seen from him at similar tracks. Wallace had the 3rd-fastest median at Charlotte, and his 13th-place median at Dover is incredibly noteworthy given this weekend's racing surface.

Bubba has scored a pair of top-15 finishes in each of the last two Nashville events, which is an incredibly reasonable target for his salary. That's especially the case when he'll roll off 24th on the starting grid, opening the door for plenty of place-differential points.

As Hamlin, Gibbs, and other major Toyotas flood the top 10 of any on-track events this weekend, it's intriguing to pluck any we find from the bargain bin. Wallace and teammate Corey Heim both fit that bill after solid individual results in practice themselves.

A.J. Allmendinger ($5,500)

In an era of NASCAR predicated so much on the equipment, Kaulig Racing has seen their results predicated on who is driving their car.

You wouldn't know from A.J. Allmendinger's results that they've arguably been the slowest team in the sport this season. Allmendinger has four top-15 finishes in seven starts with this #16 team, and the most noteworthy of them (for our purposes) was a 13th-place finish and 12th-ranked median lap time at Dover earlier this season.

Any other combination of Kaulig drivers have zero top-15 finishes outside of the randomness that come from drafting ovals. It can be unnerving to target their cars, but I don't think they've regressed under the hood as much as behind the seat.

Allmendinger is bringing that theory to life this weekend. He had the fifth-best time on both the 5-lap and 10-lap charts in practice. I don't know what's in the water, but he -- like so many fast cars in practice -- made a slight error in qualifying and will start 28th.

I realistically think Dinger might end up competing with drivers in the $7,000-$8,000 range for another top-15 finish, so this salary is a bargain. I have a hard time leaving him behind in cash games.

Others to Consider

  • Alex Bowman ($8,000)
  • Josh Berry ($7,800)
  • Kyle Busch ($7,500)
  • Corey Heim ($5,800)
  • Todd Gilliland ($5,000)

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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.