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Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Auto Racing

MacPharlain has been playing and writing about fantasy sports (including fantasy football, NASCAR, and golf) for over a decade.

Fantasy NASCAR 101

Welcome to the exciting world of fantasy auto racing!

This guide is for Fantasy Auto Racing (aka Fantasy NASCAR) rookies and anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of the game. Here you will find an explanation of the game, tips to select your drivers and links to additional resources on the web.

What Is Fantasy Auto Racing?

Fantasy Auto Racing is a game where you build your own dream team of NASCAR drivers and compete against the other teams in your league.

The outcome of each race can be quickly impacted by wrecks, mechanical problems, or a slow pit stop. Since so much of a race's finish depends on luck, this is one of the easier fantasy sports for new players to jump into, be competitive and have fun.

Other variations of fantasy auto racing are based on Formula One, Indy Car, or other racing series instead of NASCAR. This guide focuses on fantasy NASCAR but the basics are similar for other fantasy motorsports.

The Basics

All fantasy auto racing leagues require players to select a team of drivers to start for each week's race. The sum of the driver scores for each team is that team's score for the week. The team with the most total points at the end of the season is the champion.

Scoring is based primarily on how each of your starting drivers does in the actual NASCAR race. Some sites allocate points equal to the number of Cup series points that the driver received for the actual race. Other sites will award the 1st place driver x points and every position after that gets 2 fewer points than the position before.

A league may also award bonus points for leading at least one lap of the race, leading the most laps, or award points depending on how the driver qualified. Some leagues even award bonus points if the driver finishes better than their starting position.

The key thing is to read and understand your league's scoring rules.

Game Variations

There are three main variations of Fantasy Auto Racing depending on which site you use to host your league. Here is a description of each:

  • Draft Based - This version is the most like other fantasy sports. You draft a team of drivers prior to the start of the season and each driver can only race for one team. During the season you can trade drivers with other teams or drop a driver to pick up a new one from the free-agent list.
  • Salary Cap Based - In this version, all drivers have a salary based on their Cup series standings. Each team is given a salary cap (typically $1,000,000) that it can use to purchase drivers for the week. Multiple teams can own the same driver. Driver salaries may change throughout the season based on their actual performance.
  • Class Based - All drivers are grouped into one of three classes (usually A, B and C) based on their performance the previous season. Each team is required to pick and start a certain number of drivers from each class to form their team for the week. Multiple teams may start the same driver.

Fantasy Auto Racing Sites

Most fantasy league sites are free and provide the basics of stats, scoring, league, team management, message posting, etc. Some also offer premium (pay) games as well that offer cash prizes.

    NASCAR offers several variations of fantasy auto racing on their site.
  • Driver Group Game
    A free to play class based fantasy NASCAR game built by fans after Yahoo! shut down its fantasy racing game. Builds on the old Yahoo! format with several new features.
  • Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest
    A free salary cap based fantasy NASCAR game. It's similar to the old FOX version where you pick five drivers per race while staying within a salary cap limit.

Tips for Selecting Drivers

Your driver can make or break your racing rankings. Each driver is different, so make sure you know their individual characteristics before committing.

  • Check The Driver's Status - Make sure that the driver is racing this week. Some drivers don't enter every race or they may not have qualified. If the driver has NE or DNQ in their status field, they're not racing.
  • How Many Times Have You Started This Driver? - Many games limit the number of times you can start each driver during the season. If you've already hit the limit and that driver's still in your lineup, you'll get a big 0 no matter how well he or she finishes.
  • Know The Track - NASCAR races are run on a variety of tracks such as flat tracks, road courses, super speedways, and short tracks. Some drivers do better or worse on different track types so check their stats. If the race is on a short track like Bristol or Richmond, where wrecks can be frequent, consider starting fewer big names and go with guys who will be spread out through the pack. That way a wreck upfront won't take out all of your drivers.
  • Check The Average Start Position - If your league awards qualifying points, you'll want to have drivers in your lineup who consistently qualify in the top 4 to increase your chance of getting extra points.
  • Who Won The Busch/Nationwide Series Race Yesterday? - There is usually a Busch series race the day before a NASCAR Cup Series race. Many of the Cup drivers compete in the Busch race and drivers who finish well there usually do well in the big race the next day, sometimes with back-to-back wins.
Watching a real NASCAR race can expand your Fantasy experience!

Watching a real NASCAR race can expand your Fantasy experience!

Go See A Race!

The best way to enjoy and learn about NASCAR is to see it up close and personal with no commercial breaks. I've been to the Daytona 500 and the Richmond races. My favorite part is walking down to the fence and feeling the wind as the cars speed by you at 180mph. What a rush!

  • Yahoo! Sports - NASCAR
    Yahoo! does a good job of providing the top stories, current rankings and driver info with fewer annoying ads than the other major sports sites.
  • Driver Stats
    You'll want to know how a driver has performed in past races on each track.

Comments or Questions

Leave your comments below on fantasy auto racing, your favorite driver or anything NASCAR.


MacPharlain (author) on March 16, 2019:

@BLM, thanks for the heads up on Yahoo and Fox ending their games. I've updated the links above.

BLM on January 26, 2019:

Doing some searching for replacement fantasy NASCAR games as well as NASCAR's own one - which I didn't fancy so much as it makes the Play Offs a seperate game. I found this site - yes the do paid games but there third game is completely free and covers the full season regular and play-offs... thought it might do for your article to replace one of the two that no longer exist - Fox & Yahoo:

BLM on January 26, 2019:

Shame two of the three links above for fantasy NASCAR contests are out of date (as Yahoo and Fox no longer offer fantasy NASCAR games).!

MacPharlain (author) on February 11, 2018:

@Seth: No, most sites don't charge to create a team and join a public league. Only fees are if you join a private league that has an entry fee.

Seth perret on February 10, 2018:

Do u have to pay for anything

jimconrad2 on November 25, 2012:

I found a fantasy league using diecast cars.

dcmovingcompany on July 26, 2012:

A nice way to kill time at the office

ionlabs on March 10, 2012:

I love nascar, but no more time for another fantasy league.

trees001 on November 11, 2011:

This is one of the few fantasy sports I never tried because I didn't totally get how it worked. I'm still not sure I'll try it, but at least now I know what to expect if I do. Really cool lens!

MacPharlain (author) on February 21, 2011:

@anonymous: Thanks!

anonymous on February 20, 2011:

adding you on my blog roll blessed by a squid angel :)

spritequeen lm on October 20, 2010:

This looks really interesting! I'm a huge fan of Ricky Byers, and have even created a fan page for him (Live Strong). Great lens! Thanks for sharing!

anonymous on September 23, 2010:

not sure i understand fantasy auto racing from impreza specs

MacPharlain (author) on August 04, 2008:

No joke, Susan. Most sports have a fantasy version now. Yahoo's Fantasy NASCAR leagues have over 330,000 teams this year.

Susan from Texas on August 02, 2008:

You're kidding, right? For auto racing? Really? Wow.

racerman28 on March 06, 2008:

Great lens...Fantasy Racing for NASCAR is becoming huge. I'm even part of a league and a lot of my readers are as well.

Ken at NASCAR News & Rumors

sewjr24 on February 22, 2007:

Welcome to the Auto Racing group, Mac33! Excellent lens!