Thursday, March 9, 2023

Fantasy NASCAR Picks — Phoenix Cup Series New Package Projections

How will the new package affect DFS NASCAR picks at DraftKings? I'm not an engineer but I will pretend. We're going to hear a lot about less downforce. The natural tendency will be to trust data from lower downforce packages at Phoenix (2021, 2020, 2018, 2017, and 2016).

Notice that 2022 is absent from that list. That package increased downforce, and it increased downforce differently (underbody vs. spoiler). The downforce up or down generalization is going to be egregiously oversimplified at Phoenix.

The Gen 7 car runs like a motorboat. The nose is pointed upward as opposed to the splitter being sealed to the ground. The car is designed to force air underneath the car and through the diffuser. This creates rear-end downforce. Simply put, the car handles and drives differently than anything prior to 2022. The generalization of low-downforce packages could be a major mistake.

Before practice, all bets are off in terms of downforce and handling. Running well in traffic (dirty air) is great for value picks, but it's not significant for Hogs (fast lap and lap leaders — some erroneously call them dominators). The driver that is out front at Phoenix is out front. Dirty air does not matter for the lap leaders. NASCAR's downforce package changes will affect the leader in clean air a lot less than the rest of this field.

Horsepower matters

How does one get to the lead? They lay down fast laps in clean air in qualifying. Downforce matters but horsepower matters more. Chase Briscoe, self admittedly the worst Xfinity Phoenix driver, won his first Cup Series race at Phoenix in an underpowered car. He did not have more downforce, but his familiarity with constant shifting thrusted him to the win.

Long story short, lean on 2022 flat, short track data. It's all about power.

...there is more on this in the notes section of the Free Fantasy NASCAR Cup Series Spreadsheet