FedEx 400 Driver Values
Welcome to my first blog post. Like many people, I am new to NASCAR daily fantasy and NASCAR in general. With this blog, I hope to provide some helpful insight into driver value for the FedEx 400, by analyzing the drivers’ recent performance at Dover.
For the this race, I chose to dig into data for the past four races at Dover, dating back to June 2013. All the data I analyzed was obtained from DriverAverages.com. In order to identify value for each driver, I chose to examine their relative performance in 6 different categories:
- Top Ten Finishes
- Lowest Finish
- Average Loop Data Driver Rating
- Average Laps Led
- Average Place Difference
- Qualifying vs. Practice Ranking Differential
For each category, I ranked the drivers by relative performance and then normalized the result. This process gave the top driver in each category 100 points, while the bottom driver received 0 points.
Top Ten Finishes
I wanted to look at top ten finishes in order to gauge a driver’s ability to consistently finish at the top of the pack in Dover. With four races in the last two years at Dover, the most top tens a driver could have would be four and the least would be zero. Here are the ten drivers with the most top ten finishes in the last four races.
|Driver||No. of Top Tens||Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||3||75|
*Note: Tony Stewart missed one of the four races, therefore his rating for two top ten finishes is slightly higher.
In an effort to further examine a driver’s ability to consistently finish a race, and finish well, I ranked all the drivers by their lowest finish in the last two years. Here are the top ten drivers with the best lowest finishes.
|Driver||Lowest Finish||Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||17||73.53|
Average Loop Data Driver Rating
I chose to look at the average loop data driver rating in order to capture how the driver tends to perform at Dover. The loop data driver rating incorporates data that cannot be determined from start and finish position alone, such as average running position, average speed, and fastest lap. Here are the top ten drivers in terms of average loop data driver rating at Dover over the past four races.
|Driver||Avg Driver Rating||Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||97||67.04|
Average Laps Led
I wanted to look at average laps led to get an idea of who is most likely to get to the front and lead some laps, since leading laps garners bonus points in daily fantasy. Here are the top ten drivers in terms of laps led at Dover. This is where Jimmie Johnson has truly dominated over the last four races.
|Driver||Avg Laps Led||Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||20||12.16|
Average Place Difference
This category compares each driver’s average start and average finish at Dover. A large positive number means the driver is good at finishing higher than he/she started, which is crucial to gaining extra points in daily fantasy. Here are the top ten drivers in terms of average place difference over the last four races.
|Driver||Avg Place Difference||Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||3.3||62.16|
Qualifying vs. Practice Ranking Differential
This category attempts to quantify each driver’s actual car performance at the track this weekend versus their qualifying spot, because some drivers are excellent qualifiers and bad racers and vice versa. So, in this category I subtracted each driver’s highest practice rank from his/her qualifying rank. A positive number could imply that a driver is likely to have a better car than his/her qualifying time and should have a good chance of gaining position during the race. Here are the top ten drivers in terms of qualifying rank versus practice rank.
|Driver||Qualifying/Practice Differential||Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||13||91.30|
For my initial analysis, I kept the weights of all six categories equal. I realize that each of these factors likely carries a different weight in terms of predictive value, but at this point I do not know enough about racing to alter the weights. So, for now, I am just summing up each driver’s category rating to give each driver an overall rating for the race. The top ten summed ratings, before considering site-specific salaries, are shown below.
|Driver||Total Normalized Rating|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||381.20|
Finding Salary Value
Now for the fun part, incorporating the DraftKings and Fantasy Feud salaries in order to find the drivers with the best values.
|Driver||Salary||Total Normalized Rating||Total Rating Per $1000 Salary|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||11800||381.20||32.30|
|Driver||Salary||Total Normalized Rating||Total Rating Per $10000 Salary|
On both sites, Clint Bowyer rises to the top in terms of value per salary dollar and Tony Stewart comes in at #3. However, aside from Bowyer and Stewart, the two sites’ value drivers differ quite a bit. Jimmie Johnson is has the second most value per dollar on DraftKings, but falls just outside the top ten on Fantasy Feud. Hopefully this little exercise in data analysis helps you realize that good plays on one site may not be good plays on a different site. It all comes down to the expected performance per dollar.
My approach to this analysis was mainly focused on finding drivers’ traits that would help me build a quality cash game lineup with a high floor. These drivers would still likely be key components to a winning GPP lineup, but many of them will not necessarily provide you with the most upside.
I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a blog. I am much better at analyzing data than I am at writing. If you understood at least some of what I was trying to explain, I will be pleased. I plan to continue my foray into NASCAR data analysis throughout this racing season and I’ll do my best to share my results with the RotoGrinders community, for better or for worse.
Good luck this week. Boogity boogity boogity!