NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Iowa Corn 350

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Iowa Corn 350

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 Iowa Corn 350 at Iowa Speedway from the perspective of playing daily fantasy NASCAR on FanDuel.


Track Primer and General Lineup Strategy

The Cup Series' inaugural trip to Iowa Speedway is well overdue, and it'll finally happen in 2024.

This venue has hosted lower series events since 2011 in the heart of the midwest, and the 0.875-mile oval's striking resemblance to Richmond -- a favorite of drivers on the schedule -- has created some wild finishes over the years.

It wouldn't be NASCAR, though, without unnecessary drama entering the event. A 2024 partial repave of only necessary racing areas was performed, so most of the important parts of it are brand new with maximum grip. That could make this surface race a bit less like Richmond and more like a Phoenix or Gateway, which played host to the event two weeks ago.

Nonetheless, our DFS strategy is familiar. The 350 laps (and 35.0 FanDuel points available for laps led) fit right into a short-track strategy of targeting two -- or three -- potential lap-leaders in lineups at the expense of place-differential upside.

Personally, the repave could make passing extremely difficult on Sunday. I'm going to take a fast driver up front over a speculative dart at a slower car every time.

With that said, if a driver's form at similar tracks has been better than what we saw in qualifying on Saturday, I'm still intrigued. Phoenix, Darlington, Richmond, and Gateway give us plenty of data on this flatter track type with modest wear.

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:

  • Richmond (Spring 2024) - 25%
  • Darlington (Spring 2024) - 25%
  • Gateway (Spring 2024) - 25%
  • Phoenix (Spring 2024) - 25%

Swaim's Rank
Starting Spot
Practice Rank (10-Lap)
Practice Rank (15-Lap)
Jim's Sims
MLT Rank
1Kyle Larson $13,000 13313.48%5
2Christopher Bell $14,000 10667.72%2
3Tyler Reddick $10,000 8117.38%3
4Denny Hamlin $13,500 124412.82%1
5William Byron $11,500 48N/A6.10%5
6Joey Logano $11,000 11975.14%12
7Martin Truex, Jr. $12,000 3132251.06%11
View Full Table

Potential Lap-Leaders

Christopher Bell ($14,000)

I didn't want to go too far away from my prior opinion as several contenders emerged this weekend. Christopher Bell should be a top favorite in Sunday's race.

Bell dominated earlier this season to win at Phoenix, which is likely the single most comparable circuit to a repaved Iowa. Two weeks ago, he blew the field away with the fastest median time at Gateway by nearly two tenths of a second. That's the second-most similar surface.

It's not like he's had a bad weekend, either. Bell posted 6th place on the 10-lap and 15-lap average charts in practice before qualifying 10th. He's been fast, and all of those small samples will undersell where the #20 has crushed his competitors on this track type -- deep into a run.

Though the best driver in the Cup Series seems bad fast again this weekend, I'd be surprised if Bell, a four-time top-two finisher at Iowa in the Xfinity Series, didn't put his superior experience at this track to use.

Kyle Larson ($13,000)

Speaking of the best driver going, Kyle Larson doesn't seem content with last week's win at Sonoma -- or any of his three wins so far.

Larson will start from the pole, which wasn't a huge surprise when he posted the third-best time on both the 10-lap and 15-lap average charts in practice. Only two other cars bested him on those, and we'll discuss them in a moment.

However, those two drivers don't have the track record Larson does on this track type in 2024 -- a track type that is arguably his worst of any we race. Larson's best median time in this week's blend was at Darlington (4th), but he was a contender at both Richmond (7th) and Gateway (8th), as well. "Yung Money" led 166 laps across those three races.

Countless times, we've seen Larson turn elite practice speed into a pole and a dominant win. His performance on Saturday made him a top priority in cash games and tournaments given a reasonable chance he does it in the inaugural Iowa event, and he's not a total stranger to this venue with two top fives in two Xfinity Series starts.

Mid-Range Threats

Joey Logano ($11,000)

I've been underweight on Joey Logano far too often in 2024 as he keeps turning in steady finishes.

Logano continues to parlay solid practice speed into a decent qualifying effort and finishing there. This weekend, he posted a pair of top-nine average lap times across the 10-lap and 15-lap charts in practice. That turned into the 11th starting spot on Sunday's grid.

Penske Racing as a whole seems to have turned a corner on this track type since February's Phoenix event, and Logano has three top-13 median times in the three other events in my median blend this week. Remember, this is the track type where Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric battled for the win at Gateway two weeks ago.

The reason I've been underweight on Logano has been his top-shelf ceiling, which I'm still not sure exists this weekend. However, as Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Gibbs struggle in practice and qualifying, I see Logano as a razor-sharp tournament pivot should neither of those Toyotas turn things around at massive popularity.

Tyler Reddick ($10,000)

One of the two cars faster than Larson on the 10-lap and 15-lap charts was Tyler Reddick, and that's because Reddick's McDonald's Toyota was faster than anyone in that realm.

It's not completely surprising given we've seen Reddick deep in contention on these short, flat ovals in 2024. He wrecked battling for the win at Darlington and posted top-10 median laps at Phoenix (4th) and Gateway (9th). Reddick is becoming like Bell or Larson where I can't ignore him at any venue except perhaps a drafting oval.

Qualifying had an odd format due to weather, but the #45 still managed an eighth-place starting spot that could have him in the mix fairly early into Sunday's race.

At $10,000, I'm intrigued when entering with the opinion that Reddick could potentially match Larson's speed -- and talent -- at the front of the field, yet it's quite easy to fit both into the same lineup.

Others to Consider

  • Martin Truex Jr. ($12,000)
  • William Byron ($11,500)
  • Ty Gibbs ($10,500)
  • Chris Buescher ($8,500)

Value Plays

Alex Bowman ($7,200)

I'm expecting enormous popularity for Alex Bowman despite the fact it'll come from pretty bad process on the surface.

Any of Rick Hendrick's four Chevrolets would get attention starting deep in the field, and Bowman -- from 33rd -- will be no different. It's a shame when the Tucson native looked like he'd give Larson and Reddick a run for their money outright in practice.

There, Bowman posted the second-best 10-lap and 15-lap average in practice. Again when considering his top-shelf equipment, I'm always willing to pay attention where he flashes that. It's not crazy to think the #48 contends to lead on Sunday.

However, there is a path to failure. Bowman hasn't posted a median lap ranking better than 15th at any of the four tracks in this week's sample, so his practice time was definitely a flash in the pan relative to that larger sample.

As a result, I'm expecting I'll enter underweight on Bowman, but that won't be due to scarce personal usage. He'll be chalky.

Austin Cindric ($6,800)

Austin Cindric's salary is quite a bit higher than it was before his Gateway win two weeks ago, but he still firmly fits into the "value" category with upside.

Cindric finally tied his practice speed -- which has been more abundant -- to both a race's finish and his median time within the race. He had the fifth-fastest median at Gateway and -- yes -- benefitted from Bell and Blaney's misfortune to capture the trophy. However, we don't need a win at $6,800.

I'm especially intrigued by Cindric when he's been much better with lesser tire wear. He also had the fastest median time at Phoenix in February before struggling at Richmond and Darlington. The latter aren't tremendous comparisons to a repaved Iowa at this point.

In practice, Cindric was 16th on the 15-lap charts, and he'll start 21st. I'd have hoped for more, but he's got a track record from previous venues that Michael McDowell and Daniel Suarez do not.

In this salary tier, that's why I'd rank him a smidge higher than those two despite superior practice times from the duo.

Others to Consider

  • Ross Chastain ($8,000)
  • Chase Briscoe ($7,500)
  • Michael McDowell ($6,200)
  • Daniel Suarez ($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.