I'm the same as you, a huge fan of the sport who has had to wait 16 rather cool weeks of a winter to go from the Kurt Bush screw-up (and his career) at Homestead-Miami Speedway to the start of the 2012 NASCAR season in the Super Bowl of em' all at Daytona, 2012. My nickname is and has since 1978, Chase.
Well simple really, I'd been playing fantasy Baseball and fantasy Football since 1990. Yahoo became the vehicle for playing NASCAR and it's own preview was my only source for study. My first three years I scored in the 94-, 96-, and 96-percentiles.
I was playing in the dark though, lucky, but in the dark. Then I found On Pit Row, Onebadwheel, Jayski's and other sites to really start the study, because I'm thinking $$$. First year out of the box with all the new info, 89-percentile. Maybe I was being a bit too analytical?
Since then folks, I've learned a lot and have not been outside of the 90's. So, here are my keys to Fantasy NASCAR.
Do not take a driver because he is your favorite, or deny a driver because he is someone you hate. In my opinion, Kyle Busch who I do not care for more often than not is one of the most talented driver's on the circuit. Witness those two incredible saves during the 2012 Budweiser Shootout.
Your objective is to be in the money, have some luck and win when you can. Daytona is an absolute start to that line of thought. 16 long weeks, and we what? Must go out and win the big one to start the season right. No way folks, Daytona is a fantasy long shot at best. Better to be in the race with a handful of teams then to invest in the big one. Most of us are playing in allocation races.
Once the season is underway, start with driver momentum. It makes a huge difference. All the stats in the world can't dissolve the resolute of a driver who is riding that hot streak, unless...
Now is the time you hit the study, and Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet is all you need to get that work done.
It's simple enough. Some drivers don't race well on some tracks. Whether it is some tracks or some type of track, the flats, road courses, short banked tracks, superspeedways, etc. So, Momentum and then Track or Track Type. Next, be careful with Driver Ratings. They can be misleading in my experience.
Look at Average Finish. My favorite examples are Keving Harvick and the Busch brothers that wait until the end to make their charge. You can bet the #24 will drop back in the Daytona 500. You don't need to be upfront to hold onto and win a race, unless...
And, with some tracks it is. Do your own study. I believe that the correlation between start and finish is critical to some.
Sometimes, getting a 23rd place finish out of 43 is not a bad place to be if it means sacrificing a driver or two in that uncertain race. In my handful of 43-player fantasy team leagues, I will be happy with a 23rd, and thrilled with a 13th at Daytona. Just too much risk with that track and race. My over under is 3.
A good bit different than most of you. I may be from Charlotte, but I grew up primarily in Ohio and Florida, the vast amount which was in Ft. Lauderdale. They say here in NC, that makes me a halfback. From the north, moved to Florida, then moved half way back. I'm good with that.
I got into NASCAR in February, 2001. I was working for one of the largest financial service company in the world. That Sunday, I was watching the 43rd Daytona 500, as I always had done, the Big Daddy of NASCAR, the Super Bowl of Racing and dammit football is over and baseball does not start for another couple of months!
Of course, we all know what happened in that race. I went to work that next day in our center of 3,000 employees and the silence was deafening. I could not believe the number of my friends that were grieving. All I could think was "WTF?"
That my friends, was the beginning.
Darlington Raceway in 2003 at the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 when Ricky Craven nipped Kurt Busch by less than .01, was my first track to see the real thing. My son and his best friend from college were already into the sport, so we took a long weekend and drove up to see the race. That race has since been referred to as the race of the decade. WOW, (do I like this thing or not?) Been hooked ever since.