DailyFanRacing NASCAR & F1 Race Preview - Atlanta & Saudi Arabia
What’s up, everyone?! It’s Dustin Maybin (@CUPharmDFS) back again with your weekly DailyFanRacing newsletter! For the 2nd time this season, we have a jam-packed weekend with all three NASCAR series racing and F1 back in action!
As always, we will have complete premium DFS coverage of all four races at DailyFanRacing.com.
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To be eligible, you must have a paid subscription to the site this week! Contest link will be posted at DailyFanRacing.com.
After a successful start to the season in the Bahrain GP, F1 will be competing in Saudi Arabia this weekend on Sunday. The NASCAR Cup Series will also race on Sunday afternoon on the high banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series will also be racing in Atlanta on Saturday. Two doubleheaders in one weekend makes for a busy weekend, but don’t worry, DailyFanRacing will have you prepped with everything you need to succeed!
F1 -Saudi Arabia GP
What’s up everyone, Ryan Larkin here with a little Jeddah F1 preview.
Race #2 of the 2023 F1 season will take place in Saudi Arabia on the ultra fast Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Jeddah is 3.84 miles in length, incredibly tight, and fast as hell. We saw a couple of huge crashes last year on the weekend. A small mistake becomes big in a hurry.
There were still safety concerns with the circuit so there was another handful of circuit adjustments made for this years event. The majority of them being the shifting of where barriers sit, to improve site lines, and additional kerbing changes.
This track rewards the best drivers and cars with the best straight line speed. Alpha Tauri have mentioned concerns about their speed this weekend, where Mercedes is being a bit more optimistic.
The majority of Mercedes optimism is because this circuit is considered a “Front-Limited Circuit” vs the “Rear-Limited Circuit” of Bahrain. Essentially, these first two races are very different from each other and there is still a lot to learn from these teams.
There are many questions to be answered. Questions like, Can Mercedes contend for a podium or do they struggle again this week? How does the midfield change? Does McLaren become a point scoring team or do they suck yet again. The midfield is where our DFS slates are won and lost so that is the main area of focus. A team like Haas being a couple tenths off will make a huge difference this week.
As always, I will have the full slate broken down in article and podcast from on the site. Last time out we had a DailyFanRacing member takedown the big contest and I look forward to that happening yet again!!
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NASCAR has been racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway since 1960, but it has seen a variety of configurations. Prior to the 2022 season, the track was reconfigured, drastically changing how we approach DFS strategy.
Atlanta is a 1.5-mile asphalt oval track as it always has been. Typically, that would mean that analyzing prior intermediate track races would be an integral part of our research process. The most recent reconfiguration completely changed that mentality. What used to be a steep, high tire wear intermediate track became a condensed version of a superspeedway with similar racing to what is seen at Daytona and Talladega.
The already steep banking in the turns was increased to 28° (previously 24°) and the racing surface was narrowed by 15 feet, encouraging tighter packs and more exciting action. Sorry, did I say action? Mayhem is more like it. In the five races across all 3 series last season, there were an average of 9.4 cautions, significantly higher than the old track’s average.
Superspeedway racing carries tons of variance due to the likelihood of big wrecks. We often see drivers that would normally struggle to maintain the pace of the upper tier drivers come away with top 10 finishes. While some drivers are more skilled at this type of racing, it can still be a crapshoot to predict a winner. We also only have one year of track history that we can look at, so our work is cut out for us this week.
Allow me to cue my inner Billy Mays. “But wait, there’s more!” The style of racing is not the only variable we have to take into account this weekend. It will be interesting to see if the track’s grip has changed since last year. A new repave should last at least a few years with little change, but the hot Georgia weather could have caused the track to lose some grip. Also, the weather is expected to be colder than either of the Atlanta race weekends in 2022, with a high temperature of 48° on Sunday.
That’s it, right? Nope! Just when you think that’s all you need to know, NASCAR decides to move its pit lane commitment line to the backstretch just before the entrance to turn 3. Why does that matter? Most race tracks have the line coming out of turn 4, so it may be confusing for the drivers. It was done in an attempt to minimize pileups as drivers come to pit road. However, I’m sure there will be penalties for missing the commitment line, and if drivers have to drive at pit road speed on the apron around the entire corner, they’re likely to go multiple laps down for unscheduled stops. The only thing that is predictable is the unpredictability we are about to encounter.
Here is the schedule for all on-track action in Atlanta this weekend:
Friday, March 17, 2023
3:05 pm: Truck Series qualifying
4:35 pm: Xfinity Series qualifying
Saturday, March 18, 2023
11:35 am: Cup Series qualifying
2:00 pm ET: Truck Series race
5:00 pm ET: Xfinity Series race
Sunday, March 19, 2023
3:00 pm: Cup Series race
Notice anything missing? That’s right, there are no practice sessions scheduled. Hopefully, there aren’t mechanical issues as a result. Also, an aside that may be noteworthy: This will be the first time the Cup Series qualifies on the new Atlanta track since both races last year had the lineup set by a mathematical formula due to rain.
There is a clear strategy of “stacking the back” when it comes to superspeedway racing. Take a look at this DraftKings scoring matrix below to see what I mean!
As you can see, drivers starting near the back have the highest upside while drivers starting up front have a higher likelihood of scoring negative points. At superspeedways where variance reigns supreme, the best way to overcome variance is to focus on the drivers with the highest upside and minimal risk. Since Atlanta is a mile shorter than Daytona, there are more laps and thus dominator points available, but the premise stays the same: The best lineups feature drivers starting near the back.
Craftsman Truck Series - Fr8 208
In Truck Series races at Daytona and Talladega since 2021, there has never been more than one driver starting in the top 10 and achieving a top 10 DraftKings score. Last year at Atlanta, the result was slightly different as 4 drivers from the top 10 did so. Then again, they were all outscored by drivers starting 19th, 25th, 15th, 34th, and 18th, so rostering drivers from the back half of the field was still a must.
When watching the race, the Truck Sderies was slightly different than Xfinity and Cup. It appeared at times to be more of a hybrid-style racetrack where drivers ran two-by-two for much of the race. Wrecks could still occur in tight quarters, but there didn’t appear to be as much aggression as the other series. However, it was the first and only race so far on the new Atlanta surface, so things could likely change this weekend.
Xfinity Series - RAPTOR King of Tough 250
When it comes to DFS at superspeedways, the Xfinity Series is mostly the same. Stacking the back still applies, as 10 of the past 12 optimal lineups at Daytona, Talladega, and this new Atlanta have featured at least 2 drivers starting 30th or worse. Likewise, over those same 12 races, only 5.6% of optimal lineup appearances have come from drivers starting 5th or better.
Where the Xfinity Series differs slightly is that it seems as if more of the wrecks tend to happen in the back half of the field among less experienced drivers, whereas in the Cup Series, they are more commonly mid-pack. What does this mean from a DFS perspective? Elite teams have a better chance of surviving the carnage and have strong finishes. For example, at Daytona last month, 6 of the top 10 DraftKings scores surprisingly came from drivers starting 20th or better. There are several different ways to approach the slate, so check out Larkin’s breakdown for more information!
Be sure to check out the DailyFanRacing DFS Preview show on YouTube. Ryan Larkin and company will be previewing this weekend’s NASCAR Cup action from Atlanta.
Show airs live Thursday at 9pm ET and is available to watch anytime afterwards.
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Cup Series - Ambetter Health 400
With 260 laps scheduled, it could be assumed that dominator points could become a factor. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Stacking the back is still a profitable strategy. 2022 marked the only time in the track’s history that both Atlanta races had double digit cautions. This could be attributed partly to the newness of the track/car, but also the aggressiveness of the drivers at a narrow superspeedway style track where it’s difficult to pass.
Last spring’s optimal lineup included only two drivers starting worse than 20th, while the fall race saw 4 drivers in this range make the optimal lineup. I tend to lean more toward the results of the fall since teams had more familiarity with these cars and the track. Interestingly enough, both front row starters were optimal in the fall race, which is very uncharacteristic for superspeedway races. Ir you dig a little deeper, however, if Bubba Wallace gained two more positions, he would’ve been optimal starting 32nd instead. In other words, stacking the back was still an effective strategy.
The sample size of 2022 races we have to go off of is small and likely unreliable, but there are game theory decisions we can exploit in our lineup constructions. Be sure to check out both the Cup strategy article and driver-by-driver breakdown for more information!
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Have a great week, and we’ll look forward to you winning with us again this weekend!
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