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NASCAR All Star - Lesson 02 - Laps Led, Fast Laps, Clean Air

Laps Led: Every lap, the driver that crosses the start-finish line in first place gets credited a lap led.

Fast Lap: All 43 drivers complete a lap. The driver that completes that lap in the shortest amount of time is credited with a fast lap.

Predicting laps led and fast laps is the most difficult part of daily fantasy NASCAR. Most DFS players know who will run up front. It’s not that hard to predict who will move up through the field of drivers, and who will slide to the back. However, knowing the driver that will run the most fast laps and lead laps is a challenge.

For every race, there are 10 drivers that have a chance of scoring the most fast laps and laps led points. The question is which one? In order to accurately predict these stats, a DFS player must understand the physics of running up front.

The Science

I’ll spare you the technical NASCAR lesson, and give the short and sweet of it. A stock car by itself is perfectly pressed to the ground by the aerodynamic downforce. This allows the car to reach optimal speeds. A car in traffic has to deal with the disturbed air from the lead car. This air does not evenly press the car’s wheels to track. This diminishes the cars handling and a driver must reduce speed.

Hoping you’re still with me, what does this mean? The car in front, in the clean air, will run the most fast laps. If that car is the fastest, then it’s not likely to be passed and will lead the most laps as well.

Once again, what does that mean? A car that starts in the back of the field has very little chance of making it up front. Even a car starting in 10th position will need favorable occurrences to move up to the front. Not only do these drivers have to negotiate the varying aerodynamics of dirty air, but they must pass the best stock car drivers in the world. It’s just not that easy to get up front.

How to Predict Fast Laps and Laps Led

Practice speeds and qualifying position are key. The drivers that start up front have a distinct advantage. These drivers have less cars navigate around in dirty air. They need less breaks to get up front.

Which drivers can make it up front? The fast ones. Practice speeds reveal important data. Maybe a driver has a poor qualifying run, but the car was fast in practice. This extra amount of speed is what is necessary for a driver to get passed the other drivers. In practice, drivers simulate race runs of 10 laps or more (long runs). During a race, a car goes through many changes. Some cars get worse while others get better. If a driver displays top long run speeds (often simulated in dirty air), this driver should be able to work his way to the front.

Being up front does not guarantee fast laps, but it does guarantee laps led. If you look over the stats from each race there is a correlation between running up front and fast laps. Always check the practice speeds and qualifying positions before making your selections. Fast cars have the best chance of getting up front and scoring fast lap and laps led points.

Technical NASCAR Stuff

Clean Air: Stock cars are designed to run through a clean wall of air. The cars use the air to force all 4 tires to track (aerodynamic downforce). This is why stock cars make turns at speeds of 170 mph and yours does not.

Dirty Air: As a stock car plows through the wall of clean air it creates disturbed air or turbulent air that deflects off the car. When cars travel through the “dirty air” their tires are no longer pressed evenly to the track. If a driver attempts to drive at a top speed, the car’s front end or rear end will slide towards the wall.

The dependence of stock cars on aerodynamics makes passing a difficult task and gives the leader an unfair advantage. The fastest car is not the best car; the car in front is.

Continue Reading NASCAR Training Camp

NASCAR All Star – Lesson 01 – Contrarian Picks
NASCAR All Star – Lesson 02 – Laps Led, Fast Laps, Clean Air
NEXT LESSON – NASCAR All Star – Lesson 03 – Short Tracks
NASCAR All Star – Lesson 04 – Value Play: Place Differential

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