Cup Series: Garage Talk Notes for Daytona


The NASCAR Cup Series is ready to kick off the 2020 season with the 62nd running of the Great American Race. The Garage Talk Notes have become the most popular article on this site and this year it should be even better. I have made a couple of more contacts at the track to feed me information. This should give us a tremendous advantage over the competition. Now, let’s go racing! The Daytona 500 can be seen Sunday at 2:3- p.m. ET on Fox.


Track Notes

The cars will run the Daytona 500 without restrictor-plates for the first time since 1987. The cars will have the 2” spoiler, 8”, aero ducts and 550 HP engines. This is different from what they ran in the 2019 Daytona 500 but the same package they had in the July race at Daytona last year.

Goodyear brought the same tire compound for all three series this weekend. It is the same tire the Cup Series used at Daytona last July. Each team is given 7 sets of tires for the 500-mile race, plus one set they can transfer over from either qualifying or from practice (8 sets total). Tires are usually not a huge factor in this race so we should see a lot of two tire pit stops.


Fantasy NASCAR Stats

Stats from Last Four Races at Daytona


Avg. Finish Laps Led Stage Points

Driver Rating

1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


80 41


2. Alex Bowman


14 32


3. Ryan Blaney


132 38


4.  Joey Logano


54 31


5. Kevin Harvick


20 14


6. Jimmie Johnson


10 8


7. William Byron


56 6


8. Michael McDowell


20 17


9. Austin Dillon


47 15


10. Denny Hamlin


57 7


11. Erik Jones


12 1


12. Ryan Newman


1 4


13. Chase Elliott


18 21


14. Kyle Busch


41 18


15. Darrell Wallace Jr.


0 4


16. Matt DiBenedetto


49 4


17. Aric Almirola


1 13


18. Clint Bowyer


5 8


19. Martin Truex Jr.


24 10


20. Kyle Larson


2 16


21. Ty Dillon


3 5


22. Chris Buescher


1 0


23. Kurt Busch


24 14


24. Brad Keselowski


29 9


25. Ryan Preece


1 0


* Sorted by Driver Ranking



DraftKings Points in Last 6 Daytona Races




Justin Haley


1 1 1 33 0.5 0.3 46


JJ Yeley


15 1.5 0 23.5 0.8 0 29


Mic. McDowell


12 4.7 3.3 10.8 2.3 0.8 32


M DiBenedetto


15.3 4.8 8.2 10.3 2.4 2 28.7


B Gaughan


16.7 3.7 0 13.5 1.8 0 27.3


Ryan Newman


10.2 5.3 0.2 5.3 2.7 0 33.8


Ross Chastain


20.3 3 0 15.3 1.5 0 23.7


Ty Dillon


16.8 4.3 1.7 6.3 2.2 0.4 27.2


Corey Lajoie


21.7 0.5 0 11.5 0.3 0 22.3


Chris Buescher


18.2 2 0.2 6.7 1 0 25.8


BJ McLeod


23.5 0 0 13 0 0 20.5


Aric Almirola


16.2 5.2 0.6 2.8 2.6 0.2 27.8


Erik Jones


18.5 5.3 3.5 3.7 2.7 0.9 26


D Wallace Jr


16.8 4.6 0 3.6 2.3 0 27.2


Tyler Reddick


27 3 0 12 1.5 0 17


Ryan Preece


20 4 0.5 3.5 2 0.1 24


Kyle Larson


19.3 4.3 2.7 2 2.2 0.7 24.7


Joey Gase


25 0.3 0 10 0.2 0 19


Austin Dillon


19 4 9 -3.3 2 2.3 25.5


William Byron


19.5 3.8 14 -3.5 1.9 3.5 24.5


Jimmie Johnson


19.8 5.5 3.5 -2.2 2.8 0.9 24.2


Martin Truex Jr


20.7 4.5 4.3 -1.8 2.3 1.1 23.3


R Stenhouse Jr


19.2 3.5 16.2 -7.8 1.8 4 25.3


Denny Hamlin


18.2 2.2 12.2 -8.7 1.1 3 26.3


Reed Sorenson


30 1 0 7 0.5 0 14


David Ragan


24 3.5 0.7 -1.2 1.8 0.2 20


Alex Bowman


14.8 3.8 3.5 -11.3 1.9 0.9 29.3


Kyle Busch


22 3.3 9.8 -5.8 1.7 2.5 22


Kurt Busch


21.2 5 4.2 -8.3 2.5 1 23.3


Joey Logano


18.8 3.8 11.7 -11.7 1.9 2.9 25.2


Ryan Blaney


23.7 3.2 23.8 -9.7 1.6 6 20.3


Clint Bowyer


20.8 3.2 1.5 -11.2 1.6 0.4 23.2


Cody Ware


39 0 0 -2 0 0 5


Daniel Suarez


31.8 1.8 1.8 -10.8 0.9 0.5 12.2


Chase Elliott


25.8 4.2 10.2 -20.3 2.1 2.5 18.2


Quin Houff


37 0 0 -5 0 0 7


Brad Keselowski


29.5 1.8 7.7 -15.8 0.9 1.9 14.5


Kevin Harvick


26.7 2.3 12.8 -22 1.2 3.2 17.3


*AVG FIN PTS is Finishing Position Points

* AVG PTS is Average DK Points per Race



Driver Notes

Chase Elliott: The No. 9 car has been very good at starting up front but Elliott has not had much luck staying up front. His average finishing position in his last four Daytona 500s is 25.3. He has averaged -19.3 place differential points in these races. Elliott did not say too much on the radio in practice. This could mean he likes his car or it could mean they do not want to share too much info on the radio. At the end of practice Elliott said, “I feel like I am a glass half-empty guy on plate tracks in general. I have no idea what to expect with this car Sunday. We needed more time in the draft to get a good gage on it.”

Jimmie Johnson: This is the last Daytona 500 for Johnson and believe it or not… no driver in the field has been to Victory Lane at Daytona more than Johnson (3 wins). His last win was in 2013 when the No. 48 car swept the races at Daytona. Johnson finished 3rd and 9th at Daytona last year so his luck at the track is starting to change. Johnson’s car was sparking a lot more than any other car in practice. That means the rear of the car is lowered which should give Johnson some more speed but it could hurt the handling. Johnson said, “It is a handful, but I do not want to jeopardize the speed we have too much.”

Alex Bowman: Starting on the front row at Daytona is nothing new for Bowman. He has started on the front row in three of the last four races at the track. His average finishing position in those races is 14.75 so that is not good. Bowman has averaged eight Stage points in these races. That is good. The No. 88 team was working on the drivability of their car. Bowman was reporting that the rear tires were sliding. Bowman was also having radio problems in practice.

William Byron: Byron said his rookie season was for learning the tracks and his second season was for learning how to compete against his competition. The Daytona 500 will be the fifth start for Byron at Daytona. His average starting position is 10.7 and his average finishing position is 18th. He did finish second at Daytona in July last year using the current aero package. Byron also won the Duel race Thursday so he is learning quickly how to race this track. Jimmie Johnson said on the radio in practice, “The 24 is the best pusher. My car has tons of speed with him behind us.” Sounds like Mr. Byron may have a lot of friends Sunday.

Kyle Larson: Larson said during media day Wednesday, “I am not really a fan of Superspeedway racing. I will feel more confident when we get to Las Vegas.” Confidence can go a long way on the race track. His average starting position at Daytona is 16th and his average finishing position is 16th. Larson did have his best ever finish in last year’s Daytona 500 when he brought the No. 42 car home in seventh place.

Kurt Busch: “The best driver to never win on a Superspeedway” stigma was removed from Busch when he won the 2017 Daytona 500. He has not had much luck at the track since that race. He has a 25.2 average finishing position since his trip to Victory Lane. Busch is avenging -5.8 place differential points in his last four races at Daytona.

Kevin Harvick: If you think you have bad luck, it is nothing compared to Harvick at Daytona. He has 89.3 Driver Ranking (8th best) over the last three seasons at Daytona and a 28.4 average finishing position. That means Harvick runs well in the race but finds trouble at the end. He has not finished four of his last six races at the track. The No. 4 team had to fix the passenger side of the car after the Duel race. Harvick had some damage but the team said it is not an issue. It was noted after the Duel race by NASCAR Media Center that the No. 4 team had the fastest pit crew in the Duel races Thursday night.

Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has competed at Daytona in 28 points races and he has never won. He did finish second in 2017. Is Bowyer the best driver to not win at Daytona? Maybe. He often runs up front and gets caught up in the accidents. Bowyer has a streak of three consecutive races at Daytona without a finish. Bowyer told his team in practice, “She likes to be out front more than in the back. She dances all over the place in the middle of the pack.” The team made some adjustments and Bowyer said, “It is more stable but I still need more.” He really like the longevity of the cars (The tires do not wear out much).

Cole Custer: The race Sunday will be the first Daytona 500 for Custer. He did not have much luck at Daytona in the Xfinity Series. His average starting position was 18.2 and his average finishing position is 23rd. He crashed out of 50% of his races at the track so that makes Custer a risky pick Sunday. Custer had a long chat with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick Friday to talk about how to race the Superspeedways. Later Tony Stewart told SiriusXM, “I cannot believe have far ahead Custer is from where I was in my rookie season. He is more than ready for the race Sunday.”

Aric Almirola: Almirola has been a good fantasy pick at Daytona and he could be very good Sunday. The No. 10 team presented their Clash car for inspection last week and the numbers were so good that the team took the car out of the race and made it their primary car for the Daytona 500. It must be fast. Almirola has averaged 8.3 place differential points per race at Daytona. That makes him a great pick for DFS Contests this week.

Brad Keselowski: Do not block Keselowski Sunday. He has made it known to his competitors that he will drive right through them if you block him. It is no wonder he is upset. Keselowski is one of the best Superspeedway drivers in the sport but he has crashed out of five of his last six races at Daytona. Keselowski liked his car. He said, “I know I am nit-picking here, but the only issue I have is with the mirror location. I need it adjusted and this car will be perfect.”

Joey Logano: If you simply go off of stats, Logano is the best choice in the field. His 7.3 average finishing positions in the last four Daytona 500s is a series-best. Logano also ranks in the top 10 in fastest laps; laps led and place differential points. Logano won the Duel Thursday.  It is hard to go wrong with Logano in your fantasy lineup Sunday. Logano was fastest in final practice.

Ryan Blaney: Could this be the season when Blaney wins his first Daytona 500? He is a good sleeper pick for sure. Team Penske always runs well t these tracks and Blaney works very well with Joey Logano. Being tucked behind the No. 22 car is never a bad place to be at Daytona. Blaney has the third-best driver ranking in the last four races at Daytona. He led 118 of the 200 laps in 2018. The No. 12 team went to a backup car after their crash in the Duel race. Blaney will start from the back and be scored from the 27th position in Fantasy NASCAR. This should not be an issue for his value.

Matt DiBenedetto: DiBenedetto ran well in the Daytona 500 last year. He led the most laps (49) and scored four Stage points but was taken out with 10-laps to go. How will DiBenedetto do with his new team (Wood Brothers Racing)? DiBenedetto will likely work with Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney in the race. That is not a bad place to be. DiBenedetto told his team, “Every time you adjust it it is so much better. It is really good now.”

Kyle Busch: President of TRD Racing, David Wilson, told SiriusXM Morning Drive Radio Show, “These are the best cars we have ever brought to Daytona. Our cars are set up to race. Not for qualifying.” Busch is still looking for his first Daytona 500 trophy. He said during media day, “Winning this race is one of the biggest goals for the season.” Usually when Rowdy sets his sights on a goal, he achieves it. Busch was complaining about the car hitting the splitter. They made an adjustment and he said, “It is much better.” He really worked well with Denny Hamlin in the draft and they plan to work together from their starting positions in the middle of the field.

Erik Jones: Jones won the Busch Clash at Daytona race last weekend. It was the second trip to Victory Lane at Daytona for Jones. He also won the July race at the track in 2018. Jones backed it up with third-place finish in the Daytona 500 last year. Jones is a great sleeper pick for your fantasy team Sunday.

Denny Hamlin: It is debatable who is better at Daytona… Joey Logano or Hamlin. Both drivers are very good. Hamlin has finished 1st, 3rd, 17th, 1st, 4th and 2nd in his last six Daytona 500s. It does not get any better than that. Hamlin is one of the best picks for your fantasy team this week. At the end of practice Friday the No. 11 team asked Hamlin, “Need any more changes bud?” Hamlin replied, “Let’s not touch it until Sunday. We got what we need.”

Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. will no doubt have one of the best cars on the track Sunday. The question is whether or not he can bring it home in one piece. Truex has been a boom or bust driver at Daytona since he has been in a car with some sort of an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. Truex finished 2nd in 2017 and 2nd in 2016 at Daytona. He also finished 35th last year and 34th in the July race in 2017. Truex made a couple trips down pit road in practice. He missed his pit in the Duels because the team had a new sign this year. Truex said the pits will not be an issue Sunday.

Christopher Bell: Bell will be making his first start in the Daytona 500 Sunday. Would it surprise you if he went to Victory Lane? I wouldn’t be surprised. We have seen crazier things happen in NASCAR before. Bell has four very good teammates to work with (Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones). He is also driving for the team that led the most laps in this race last year. Bell finished 3rd, 6th and 3rd in his last three races at Daytona in the Xfinity Series. He could be the best sleeper pick in the field Sunday. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch spent a lot of time in the garage talking with Bell. He is a quick learner so I am sure the knowledge they shared will be put to good use by Bell.

Tyler Reddick: Unlike his rookie competitors, Reddick has made a start in the Daytona 500 before. Last year he drove the No. 31 car for Richard Childress Racing. Reddick started 39th and finished 27th. He does have a trip to Victory Lane on his resume. He beat Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Aric Amirola and Daiel Suarez when he won the Xfinity Series race I 2018. Chase Elliott said on the radio, “That 8 car (Tyler Reddick) is to aggressive. Someone needs to tell him this is not an Xfinity Series car.” Reddick was drafting with Elliott and kept pushing him through the corners. That is a no no for drivers.   

Austin Dillon: Dillon won the 2018 Daytona 500 and he should be a good fantasy pick Sunday. Dillon has competed in 13 races at Daytona and he only has three crashes. Staying out of the wrecks is the name of the game at Daytona and Dillon is one of the best in the business. We saw that last week in the Clash race. Austin Dillon will start in the back in the Daytona 500 because of unapproved adjustments. He will be scored from the 13th starting position in Fantasy NASCAR. This will hurt his fantasy value Sunday.

Ty Dillon: Dillon has quite the streak going at Daytona. He has finished 4th, 6th and 6th in his last three races at the track. He is the best in the series over the last three races. His 16 place differential points per race are also third-best (behind Justin Haley and J.J. Yeley). Dillon is one of the safest picks in the field this week.

Chris Buescher: Buescher had some success at Daytona while driving for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished fifth in both races in 2018 and 10th in 2017. Will he have the same success at Roush Fenway Racing? He should. Ryan Newman is a great teammate to work with and the Roush-Yates engines always provide the horsepower to get to the front. Buescher is a great sleeper pick for the race Sunday. When asked about the race Sunday, Buescher said, “I could not believe how much knowledge Newman has about this race. I have learned so much from him this week. I think my game plan going into the race Sunday is so much better than what I had in the past.”  

Ryan Newman: The key to scoring well in Fantasy NASCAR on the Superspeedways is to find the drivers to stay out of trouble. No one is better at it than Newman. He has a series-best 8.75 average finishing position over the last four races at Daytona. Newman has not crashed at Daytona since 2010. Let that information sink in for a minute… His average finishing position at the track in the last five races is eighth. Newman liked his car in practice. He asked his team, “How long do you want me to stay out here? I doubt we can make it any better than it is.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse starts on the poll Sunday. He should be able to keep his No. 47 Chevy out front and lead some laps. Stenhouse is one of the most aggressive drivers at Daytona and one of the best at leading laps. Can he bring his car home in one piece? His aggressive driving style often leads to problems. Stenhouse has the fourth best driver ranking in the field over the last five races at Daytona but his average finishing position is 20.75. The No. 47 team was working on the ride heights of the car. The car had a lot of speed but Stenhouse wanted more driveability. They seemed happy with the car.

Ryan Preece: Preece is one of the best kept secrets at the Superspeedway tracks. Finished eighth in the Daytona 500 last year and he backed it up with a third-place finish at Talladega. Preece should work well with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the race. If you want to be different from your competition this week, Preece may not be a bad driver to have in your lineup. The No. 37 team was working to get the car closer to the car that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has for the Daytona 500. The team reported they were only making “minor adjustments” to the car.


Favorites to win Sunday: Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott


Good Sleeper Picks: William Byron, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher and Jimmie Johnson



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