Nestled in a small, quiet farm town, right in the heartland of the USA on the Ohio/Indiana border resides the home of one of the greatest spectacles the NASCAR schedule has to offer on a yearly basis. We get to see NASCAR return to its roots as the Truck series hits the dirt at Eldora Speedway! This race brings with it some extra challenges for DFS this week. For one, there will be five heat races starting at 7:00pm EST that will determine the starting order for the race that starts at 9:00pm EST. This will not allow for a ton of time to get those line ups set. The other challenge is there is a lot of names you don’t recognize that you need to know, and a lot of guys you know that you need to forget.
Let’s look at some numbers. The average number of laps led by the dominator in each race is 90 laps. In the last 5 races at Eldora, the pole sitter has led an average of 60 laps out of the 150 scheduled. In that same sample, no one has led more than 20 laps when starting further back than 7th. Taking that one step further, 67% of all the laps led in the last five races, were done so by heat winners. I will be doing everything I can to squeeze as many heat winners in my lineup as possible. I feel there is enough value and PD upside on this slate to make this strategy work. Diving into the 5 race sample further, we see that an average of 5 drivers per race gained 10+ positions over their starting position. The average PD of the drivers who gained the most spots in each of those races was 18.4 spots gained. I will be avoiding guys starting between 10th and 20th all together. I think this race sets up perfectly to run a stars and scrubs strategy. My goal is to hit the lap leaders and a couple high PD guys! You will have to pay attention to the heat races to see who wins those races for your lineup, or follow me on Twitter @dfsnascar, I will be at the track and updating my feed on winners and plays. The rest of this article I will be diving into my stars and scrubs list as they stand now.
1) Chase Briscoe $11000 – Briscoe comes in as my number 1 ranked driver. He has 2 top 3 finishes in as many races at Eldora, including a win last year leading 54 laps. Briscoe was 2nd and 4th respectively in average lap speeds in both practices.
2) Stewart Friesen $10300 – Friesen is the most accomplished dirt track driver in this years Dirt Derby. Stewart has over 900 career starts on dirt and has won in everything he’s drove, except a Truck. He does have a 2nd and 3rd place finish in the last two years, and led 93 laps two years ago.
3) Matt Crafton $10100 – Crafton is the only driver in the field who has raced in all 6 Truck races at Eldora. He has finished in the Top 10 in every race, and has 2 top 5’s, including a win 2 years ago. Crafton was 5th in average lap speeds in the final practice.
4) Brett Moffitt $9900 – It’s not well known, but Moffit raced a lot of dirt early in his career in the ICMA before switching to asphalt in 2008. Brian even won the Harris Clash in 07. He proved he still has what it takes finishing in 5th last year in his only Dirt Derby start. Moffit had the fastest average lap speed in final practice Thursday night pushing him into 4th in my rankings.
5) Grant Enfinger $10600 – Enfinger came up a nose short of winning this race last year in an exciting green white checkered finish. He has a 4th place finish in his only other start 2 years ago to go with last years second place finish. Downside is he hasn’t shown much speed this week, has shown an inability to lead laps, and has zero heat wins. Still a solid option.
6) Todd Gilliland $8500 – Gilliland finished 22nd last year in his only Dirt Derby start. That doesn’t seem too promising on the surface, but he did win his heat race, and he was running 7th at the midpoint and had an average running position of 8th. He showed up with great speed having the fastest average speed in the first practice, and backed it up with the 2nd fastest in final practice.
1) Mike Marlar $7400 – Mike makes his Dirt Derby debut driving the 33 truck for Reaume Motorsports. Marlar is a dirt track ringer, having won in everything he’s driven. He is the 2018 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champion, and has 3 wins already this season in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. He showed he belongs with an average speed that was 3rd and 6th in both practices.
2) Jeffrey Abbey $7100 – Abbey is another accomplished dirt track specialist. He won the IMCA Southern Sport Modified National Championship in 2016. Abbey has 2 prior Dirt Derby starts finishing 14th and 17th respectively. He gets the benefit of stepping back in a Niece Motorsports Ride for this years Derby, same team he got his 14th place finish with.
3) Mark Smith $6500 – Jordan Anderson and Niece Motorsports have teamed up to put a ride together for Smith’s Truck Series debut. The 48 year old veteran sprint car driver has a ton of experience and he should be in some solid equipment. Don’t let his age fool you, he has 7 wins this season in his sprint car. He was 21st fastest in average speed in the opening practice.
4) Carson Hocevar $5500 –This is prolly my favorite punt play on the slate. Carson is only 16 years old and is making his Truck Series debut for Jordan Anderson Racing. Carson is a Dirt Racing prodigy, he is the most successful driver in the USAC Quarter Midgets. He has won 79 National races and 15 National titles. If your wondering if he can handle the step up, he has already raced 8 ARCA races this season, finishing in the Top 5 in 4 of them. He posted the 17th fastest average speed in the first practice, his first time in a truck. He will only get more confident after heat races and as he settles into the feature.
5) Landon Huffman $6700 – Huffman is not like the others on this list, he does not have a boat load of dirt racing experience. But what he does have is good equipment. He is filling in for Spencer Boyd who has a back injury. Huffman has managed to show competent speed in practice finishing with the 16th fastest average speed in the final practice. If he can keep the fenders on, the equipment should hold up for a decent finish.
6) Jake Griffin $5400 – Griffin is an experienced late model and modified dirt track specialist. This however is not Griffin’s first start in the Dirt Derby. Jake has a 4th place finish in his only start in 2016. He made that run with a different team than the Mike Alfarano ride he is piloting this year. The truck really hasn’t shown great speed, but if the equipment holds up, Griffin can use his experience to make his way to a positive PD day as the track changes.
Thanks for reading! These are just the plays that screamed out to me, check my sheet below for my complete rankings and data!