NASCAR

NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Grant Park 165

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Grant Park 165

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 Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Course from the perspective of playing daily fantasy NASCAR on FanDuel.

NASCAR DFS Picks

Track Primer and General Lineup Strategy

There truly is nothing like the new-look 4th of July weekend in NASCAR. That's because the world's top stock car racing organization takes to the streets of Chicago -- the first street course in the history of the sport.

Last year's event was the inaugural running of the format, and throwing a wrench into all of the planning and preparation, a vast majority of the event was run in wet conditions. It became incredibly clear that Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen's experience racing both on streets and in the rain was going to win out. SVG led the final nine laps to springboard an entire NASCAR career.

However, with dry conditions expected, this is -- of sorts -- a debut for the 2.2-mile road course as designed. Can NASCAR's best road racers keep up with SVG in conditions they're more accustomed to?

Road course strategy in daily fantasy is pretty simple; with only 75 laps (and 7.5 FanDuel points available for them), there's a significant emphasis on finishing position and place-differential upside in fantasy. Place-differential points might also be tough to come by given a majority of practice's best drivers starting up front, and we don't really know the ease of passing in dry weather.

A short list of true contenders for the win and interesting value plays to accept or reject should make this a fun -- but ambiguous -- Sunday on FanDuel.

Driver Rankings

Below are the top 30 from my post-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, starting order, recent form, track history, and overall talent level -- in that order. 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 single-lap and 5-lap average data. Those can typically be found at iFantasyRace.com 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.

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:

  • Circuit of the Americas (Spring 2024) - 30%
  • Sonoma (Spring 2024) - 30%
  • Indianapolis (Fall 2023) - 30%
  • Chicago (Fall 2023) - 20%

Swaim's Rank
Driver
Salary
Starting Spot
Practice Rank (Single-Lap)
Practice Rank (5-Lap)
Jim's Sims
MLT Rank
1Kyle Larson $14,000 1149.54%8
2A.J. Allmendinger $10,500 3723182.18%2
3Chase Elliott $12,000 187146.00%5
4Tyler Reddick $13,000 48711.70%1
5Shane van Gisbergen $13,500 52378.64%17
6Ty Gibbs $11,500 231310.58%9
7William Byron $10,000 2718202.28%15
View Full Table

Potential Lap-Leaders

Tyler Reddick ($13,000)

There is an argument for just about everyone at the top. Sonoma winner Kyle Larson will start from the pole and might never look back. van Gisbergen has remained in the top five all weekend after winning this inaugural event. I don't want to forget about Tyler Reddick, though.

A late slide into the barrier in wet conditions cost Reddick last year's win, and his fastest median lap time in the event is evident of that. Reddick has gone on to post a top-six median time in all three of the relevant road courses since last season's Chicago race, and many would point to him as the series' road course ace at present.

The #45 was quick in practice, too. He had a top-eight time on both a single-lap and 5-lap basis, stepping that up to fourth in time trials.

This is a weird, short event where one mistake likely ends your chance at a top-five finish. If everyone hyperfixates on Larson and van Gisbergen in tournaments and they falter, a pivot to Reddick could be a difference-maker.

Chase Elliott ($12,000)

Another reason Reddick will be overlooked is Chase Elliott's presence in this same tier.

Elliott isn't what he used to be on road courses, but he's no slouch in 2024. His average finish on the two this season is 8.5 with a 10.0 average median lap ranking. Anytime that NASCAR is going right and left, expect the #9 to be a factor.

He's delivered on that this weekend with the 7th-best single-lap time and 14th-best 5-lap average. Though not stellar, NASCAR's most popular driver looked to be a sure bet to contend for a top-10 finish.

Yet, a mistake in qualifying means he'll start 17th. Popularity station, here we come.

As mentioned in our strategy section, we really need to prioritize place-differential points where we can find them, and Elliott is an obvious candidate to score them should he finish in the top 10 from deeper on the grid. At a lower salary, you could argue he's the top priority in this tier.

Others to Consider

  • Kyle Larson ($14,000)
  • Shane van Gisbergen ($13,500)

Mid-Range Threats

Ty Gibbs ($11,500)

My colleague, Jim Sannes, is looking at Ty Gibbs as a potential win pick this weekend. I won't say the same; it seems anytime I project the 21-year-old as a dark horse to win, he finds an accident like he did last weekend in Nashville.

Gibbs has shown up on road courses, so it would be no shock. He finished third with the second-best median time at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) before finding an incident when I picked him to win at Sonoma. I'm telling you; this is a real issue for poor Ty.

The driver of the #54 was a four-time Xfinity Series winner on left-and-right-handers, and it's translated to the big leagues. It's no surprise he's been a factor since assuming a full-time ride.

For what it's worth, Gibbs finished ninth with the fourth-best median lap in last year's water-logged event, and he's continued that speed into this weekend. He was third in practice (single-lap) and will start second.

On the record, Gibbs is going to finish terribly this weekend -- I say with a wink for all of you.

A.J. Allmendinger ($10,500)

Another routine front-runner at road courses is A.J. Allmendinger.

We're only two road course events removed from his 2023 win at the Charlotte ROVAL, and it's not like Dinger has failed in either of them. He finished sixth at both COTA and Sonoma with a top-eight median lap time in each.

With such a long-established history of dominating road courses, I'm a bit less worried about his mediocre practice results, failing to post a top-15 time on either a single-lap or 5-lap basis.

Any concerns were eliminated after a weird qualifying session where he didn't even turn a lap. That resulted in the 37th starting spot.

Allmendinger is no slam dunk at $10,500 given his struggles with speed this weekend -- and his team. He's running a part-time third car for Kaulig Racing, and that could result in subpar equipment or pit stops. I'm not sure why van Gisbergen got the better seat, but it's starting to show.

A.J. has an extremely high floor from so deep on the grid, but it wouldn't surprise me if he wasn't in Sunday's perfect FanDuel lineup. William Byron, starting 27th, could end up being an awesome pivot.

Others to Consider

  • William Byron ($10,000)
  • Chris Buescher ($9,500)
  • Martin Truex Jr. ($9,000)

Value Plays

Alex Bowman ($6,800)

On raw speed, Alex Bowman has been right with the best of them.

Bowman was fifth in practice on a single-lap basis, and he was fastest overall on the 5-lap charts. I didn't have him on my watchlist entering the weekend, but his performance at the track made me double check how he's been doing on road courses in 2024. Like most venues, the answer is sneaky good.

The #48 finished fourth at COTA with the event's eighth-best median time. Though Sonoma wasn't as spectacular, he produced a top-15 finish and median time there, too. Wrapping all these smoke signals together, there could be fire with the man who replaced Jimmie Johnson this weekend.

As mentioned before, this is a high-variance race where Bowman's starting spot (8th) is a bit unnerving. Yet, it shouldn't surprise anyone if he's right among the leaders most of the day. On paper, that's an elite value play in tournaments.

Chase Briscoe ($6,000)

Joe Gibbs Racing is no stranger to road course success, so Chase Briscoe might be in the top tier of drivers next year in Chicago. This year, he's still a solid value play with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Mechanical issues limited Briscoe's impact at Sonoma to a point where he didn't crack the top 30 on the leaderboard or median lap averages, but COTA was a more inspiring weekend. He finished 13th with the 19th-best median time. He also has top-20 finishes at Chicago and Indianapolis in this sample of tracks.

I'm encouraged by his speed on the streets of the Windy City this weekend. He was 11th on the single-lap charts and 12th on the 5-lap average charts. I'm always willing to buy the four-time Xfinity Series road course winner's form if the car is dialed to a certain degree, and it appears it is.

Briscoe will start 22nd, presenting as a nice middle ground between Bubba Wallace (starting 6th) and Joey Logano (32nd) in this value tier. Those two have balanced speed and place-differential upside in opposite directions thus far.

Others to Consider

  • Ryan Blaney ($7,800)
  • Joey Logano ($7,500)
  • Daniel Suarez ($7,200)
  • Austin Hill ($5,000)
  • Bubba Wallace ($4,500)

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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.