NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Wurth 400

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks and Helper: Wurth 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 Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway from the perspective of playing daily fantasy NASCAR on FanDuel.


Track Primer and General Lineup Strategy

This run of unique track layouts marches on at Dover.

"The Monster Mile" has a comparison: the similarly banked, 0.5-mile oval at Bristol. Yet, the 1.0-mile configuration in Delaware is much faster, and this 400-lap event is notoriously tough on drivers and equipment atop the concrete highbanks.

We only stop at Dover once year -- and have since 2022. It has made collecting data a bit difficult, but the 40.0 FanDuel points available for laps led more closely resemble a short-track strategy in DFS. Two drivers combined to lead 291 of 400 laps last year, and both finished in the top four.

It may also be another weekend to not get overzealous hunting place-differential points. Just 2 of last year's top-10 finishers started outside the top-15 spots.

Because this track is truly unlike any other, I tend to lean on track history here quite a bit. Team cars generally perform closely. In 2021, Hendrick Motorsports swept the top-four spots in this race, and last year, Joe Gibbs Racing had three different cars lead and finish in the top six.

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 2023) - 60%
  • Bristol (Spring 2024) - 40%

Swaim's Rank
Starting Spot
Practice Rank (5-Lap)
Practice Rank (10-Lap)
Jim's Sims
MLT Rank
1Denny Hamlin $13,000 64220.18%1
2William Byron $12,500 32120.26%10
3Chase Elliott $11,000 29364.80%11
4Ryan Blaney $10,500 21106.00%3
5Kyle Larson $14,000 216135.06%21
6Christopher Bell $11,500 331054.52%3
7Martin Truex, Jr. $13,500 151348.08%2
View Full Table

Potential Lap-Leaders

Denny Hamlin ($13,000)

Two cars established themselves at the top of the food chain in Saturday's practice session. One was Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin entered the weekend on my short list with the fastest median time at Bristol earlier this season, and he had the fourth-best median time while finishing fifth in last year's race at Dover. This fits right into the short-track ace's wheelhouse.

In practice, Hamlin had the fourth-best 5-lap average and second-best 10-lap average. That trend also improved on the 11th-best single-lap speed, meaning the #11 Toyota might be better on the long run. Stop me if you've heard that one before.

Starting sixth, Hamlin is close enough to the front to contend for the Stage 1 win and lead the bulk of this race.

William Byron ($12,500)

While Hamlin put forth a quality effort, the best overall practice session went to 2024's winningest driver, William Byron.

Byron was third on the single-lap charts, second on the 5-lap charts, and fastest on the 10-lap and 15-lap average charts. It was no surprise to see him qualify third, and no other driver has consistently been toward the top in all activities.

It's not a huge shocker. Byron won the 2021 event at Dover, and he had a top-six median time in last year's event. Byron's Bristol sample from this season was inconclusive after early damage from getting forced into the outside wall.

Overall, I'd call him Sunday's favorite to win, and he's extremely close to the front when I'm skeptical about the polesitter Kyle Busch's ability to lead after a so-so practice session.

Others to Consider

  • Kyle Larson ($14,000)
    • Starting 21st, he absolutely could sneak into the top 10 and pay off his lofty salary. However, from a speed perspective, he's quite a bit behind Hamlin and Byron.
  • Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500)
    • With such a rich history here including four wins, I'd be a fool to write off his poor practice times, but the inn is running out of room quickly in tournaments. He'll start (15th) in a solid place-differential range, too.

Mid-Range Threats

Chase Elliott ($11,000)

Chase Elliott is a two-time Dover winner, and he's posted a top-five finish in 10 of his 14 races here. If there's a modern "horse for the course", it's likely NASCAR's most popular driver.

Qualifying struggles are nothing new to Elliott in 2024, and it makes him likely one of the most popular DFS plays on the board from the 33rd starting spot. However, I'm expecting the Hendrick Motorsports driver to ascend quickly.

Elliott posted the third-best 5-lap average, which was maintained via the sixth-best 10-lap average. Combined with his track history, it's hard to forecast a worse day than his 2023 effort. That was an 11th-place finish.

Elliott and Christopher Bell are both starting deep in the field, so thankfully, neither will likely be overwhelmingly popular as they would be on their own.

Ryan Blaney ($10,500)

Though I'm skeptical that Ryan Blaney's speed has the staying power of Hamlin and Byron, he's arguably the quickest short-run car in the field.

Blaney turned the fastest single-lap speed into the fastest 5-lap average in practice. However, dropping to 10th on the 10-lap charts, I'm afraid his speed might be a short-run mirage -- just as it was in Bristol earlier this year. R.B. had just the 11th-best median time there.

Blaney is the first driver I've written up that hasn't won at Dover, but he finished third with the best median time in the field a year ago. That's translated to an excellent start to this year's event.

In tournaments, I'll make sure to mix in my fair share of Blaney if he indeed can keep Hamlin and Byron behind him. I'm expecting his popularity to be far lower than his speed would suggest just because of the place-differential options in this area.

Others to Consider

  • Christopher Bell ($11,500)
    • Starting 33rd, he'll be popular following two straight top-six efforts at Dover. As one of the best short-track racers on the circuit, this is a great opportunity to get back on track. He was also a top-10 driver on the 5-lap and 10-lap charts.
  • Ty Gibbs ($10,000)
    • All four Joe Gibbs Toyotas should contend for a solid finish, and Gibbs works well into a clear formation of a stars-and-scrubs build at $10,000. He was third on the 10-lap charts and extremely strong at Bristol. A sneaky pivot.

Value Plays

Chris Buescher ($8,000)

This track arguably propelled RFK Racing into the winner's circle three times in 2023. After struggling early in the season, Chris Buescher finished eighth here in 2023 and became a top-10 staple. He also had the eighth-best median lap time a year ago.

That marked his second straight top-10 finish at the Monster Mile, and I'd be surprised if he isn't able to improve upon an 18th-place starting spot. He had the 10th-fastest single-lap time in practice, which carried to 16th on the 5-lap charts.

While a bulk of my lineups will be loading up on drivers at or above $10,000, C.B. is the most appealing option in the true mid-range. I'm expecting pretty solid popularity given Joey Logano and Bubba Wallace failing to pop in practice.

Zane Smith ($2,500)

Punt-level value is essential to fit some of these obvious favorites into lineups together, and I'm rolling the dice that Zane Smith can keep all four fenders on it and finally deliver on his consistently quick practice times.

Smith was 14th on the 5-lap average charts, and he was 7th on the 10-lap average charts. Starting dead last in 37th, that driver -- if not knowing names -- would likely be one of the more popular options in the field, but Smith has routinely been unable to deliver on a quick vehicle in practice.

I'm optimistic for him for finally doing it here. This was one of Smith's better circuits in the Craftsman Truck Series, scooping up a win in 2020. He's also admittedly said he loves the track.

There's only so much damage an accident could do from last place, and he was one of the 15 best cars in practice. At a near-minimum salary, I've got to roll the dice to fit in other front-runners.

Others to Consider

  • Ryan Preece ($5,800)
    • Another short-track specialist, Preece entered the weekend 12th in my median-lap blend. I haven't demoted him much after two top-20 results on the 5-lap and 10-lap average charts. He'll start 28th, presenting place-differential upside.
  • Carson Hocevar ($5,200)
    • As a teammate to Zane Smith, Hocevar was similarly quick in practice. He's quietly delivered a top-20 finish in five of his last eight races, so I'm willing to buy that speed.
  • Todd Gilliland ($3,500)
    • Front Row Motorsports would win NASCAR's "most improved team" award. While not having much interest in Michael McDowell to execute a full race from 8th on the grid, Gilliland could definitely ascend from 30th. Top-20 times on both charts help his argument, too.

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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.