Saturday, December 26, 2020

Fantasy NASCAR Context over Stats

I am trolling you.This is never gospel. Never was.
If you’ve used the spreadsheet, then you’ve seen inside my mind. You know what I get right and what I get wrong. Maybe you have developed an algorithm that dismisses my bad advice, and pulls only from objective reality. Probably, you haven’t.
One of the data points that I weigh heavily is hardly traditional data - it’s race events. While they’re objective events, I subjectively extrapolate the true impact of the events on DFS NASCAR outcomes.
A dropped touchdown pass or a loud out to the warning track might be insignificant in DFS sports where multiple games are played on a slate with hundreds of roster options. In NASCAR, each week, we get one game and a small pool of drivers from which to choose. These single events mean much more. A dropped pass means nothing when a handful of similarly priced drivers amass similar or larger point totals. In fantasy NASCAR, a small event alters reality. The butterfly effect rips through, and winning lineups vanish, and are replaced with an entirely new lineup - think Inception, or Dark City. I like to study these events. If you’re going to be hanging around, then you should know that I love the numbers, but I also love the context. Enough with the prose, here is an example of what I am talking about.
Do you remember the Fontana race? Probably not, but I can jog your memory. Truex was chalk starting in the back, and despite a lackluster finish of 14th, he was still in the optimal lineup. You probably rostered him along with everyone else, but that’s not what matters. After the Phoenix race, there was the Covid break, then racing resumed at Darlington without practice. That was more than enough time to erase your memory of the Truex Fontana race. If anything still existed, you know he was chalk, and it barely worked. Fontana is only a 200 lap race, and over a matter of months you forgot some very key details that do not show up on the stat sheet. I will repeat that. You missed some very key details that do not show up on the stat sheet.
What have you forgotten from 2020 to 2021? You’re not going to rewatch these races, but I likely will, and I have notes, so it’s a little easier, but first, why is this important? If you know what happened to Truex at Fontana, then you understand the race differently. The narrative of chalk driver in the back barely making it goes out the window. He should have won this race. He should have won this race in 2019, but Stenhouse stayed out on old tires on the most abrasive track on the circuit for a one lap shootout before the end of the stage. To no one’s surprise, Stenhouse wrecked, but to Truex’s surprise, he got collected and his day was ruined. Last year, Truex drove from the back to the front, but he lost the lead because his tire changers hand cramped on the final pit stop. Hand cramps don’t show up on the stat sheet. Now, you’re starting to remember. In traffic at the end, Truex got into the wall. It did not bring out a caution, so there isn’t a statistical record. If you followed these two events closely, then you knew that Truex was going to be a dominant force at the low hp tracks just as soon as his luck turned.
You’re going to need to know events like this especially when you can’t lean on practice data. If there was practice at Darlington and Charlotte last year, then knowing the Fontana race details might not have mattered. Truex would likely have been fast in practice; and you wouldn’t have needed to infer his speed from the Fontana race. Without practice in 2021, you’ve got a lot of inferring to do, but I’m here to help.
If you want to send a couple bucks my way, then it is appreciated.


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