The 2022 DFS season already began with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum and the Duel Races at Daytona. Now it is time for the real season to start with the Daytona 500. My DFS picks have had a lot of success at the Superspeedways because this race comes down to using the correct strategy for your driver selection and most people do not understand it. This race is 70% luck and 30% skill, so I will provide the strategy and hopefully we can get some luck to win some cash Sunday.
The Daytona 500 is scheduled for 200 laps (but we all know there is going to be a caution at the end of the races that will cause a green-white-checker). There will be 50 points available for leading laps and 90 points available for fastest laps (140 dominator points) in DraftKings contests. There will only be 20 dominator points available in FanDuel Contests.
I looked at the trend dating back six years to help predict the dominator points for the race Sunday. The trend in those races is for one driver to lead 72 laps and three other drivers to lead between 25-30 laps. The fastest laps are typically scored by the drivers who run further in the pack since they benefit from being in the draft. That means the top dominator will score roughly 18 dominator points and the other dominator scores 6.5 dominator points.
I expect this race to be calmer than other Daytona 500 because the teams are limited in the number of cars they can have in their inventory. It will be important for the teams to make it through the race. So I expect one driver to lead roughly 60-70 laps, but there will still be wrecks in the final Stage. The top dominator will likely be a driver who starts up front. The problem with selecting this driver for your lineups is that if he crashes, he will lose all of those dominator points (because the driver will score negative place differential points). For this reason, we need to focus on selecting the drivers who start outside the top 15.
My strategy for Cash Contests has been successful for many years. I typically select drivers who start outside the top-25 (sometimes outside the top-30) and wait for the wrecks. The drivers in my lineup are usually so far back that they are able to avoid the wreck and score positive place differential points.
My strategy for Tournament Contests is similar to the Cash Contest strategy but ownership is important. We want the drivers who start outside the top-20 but we do not want the popular drivers who start outside the top-20. Justin Haley starts 25th and should be highly owned Sunday. It would be a good idea to pivot to Ty Dillon who starts 26th and hope he makes it to the end of the race.
Stacking Manufactures: The Fords look to have the advantage in the draft because the front-end of their cars allow them to push harder and they have enough grip to take a solid push too. I will be building some lineups where I stack the Fords. An example of one of these lineups is: Ryan Blaney ($10,000), Joey Logano ($9,800), Kevin Harvick ($9,200), Aric Almirola ($8,000), Cole Custer ($6,500) and Todd Gilliland ($4,700)
DraftKings Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
Finish = Finishing Points PD = Position Differential Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led
* The number in front of the driver is his projected finishing position based on stats.
** The model is based on the stats. This race is impossible to predict but it should give us an idea of who the best picks will be.
FanDuel Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
DAYTONA 500 CORE DRIVERS
DENNY HAMLIN ($10.5K FD $14K): How can we fade the best driver in the Cup Series at Daytona when he starts 30th? Hamlin is a lock for all Cash Contests and you will want him in most of your Tournament Contests. It is risky to fade him in the Daytona 500.
CHASE ELLIOTT ($10.4K FD $13.5K): Elliott is a Tournament Contest play for me Sunday. He doesn’t start deep enough in the field to be used in Cash Contests. His No. 9 Chevy looked second-fastest from the Chevy team, behind Kyle Larson (in race trim).
RYAN BLANEY ($10K FD $12.5K): Blaney is my pick to win so of course I will have plenty of shares of the No. 12 car. He is a safe play for Cash and Tournament Contests. I expect the race Sunday to be calm and one driver to get to the front and lead a lot of laps. That drive could easily be the No. 12 car.
JOEY LOGANO ($9.8 FDK $13K): My projections have Logano starting 20th and finishing 2nd. Logano is going to get to the front and spend a lot of time leading the pack around the track. The problem with Logano is… How aggressive will he get at the end of the race? The risk is reduced since he will be scored from the 20th position. Logano is a good pick for Cash and Tournament Contests.
WILLIAM BYRON ($9.4K FD $11.5K): Byron had a lot of speed in qualifying and then he got pushed out of the draft early in the Duel Race. We never really got to see what his car could do in the race. His teammates were fast so I expect the No. 24 car will be able to make it to the front from the 23rd starting position. Byron won at Daytona in 2020 and he finished second in 2019. He has a lot of upside so Byron will be a good pick for Cash and Tournament lineups Sunday.
KEVIN HARVICK ($9.2K FD $9.5K): I am not as confident in the No. 4 team as I was entering Speedweeks. Harvick’s car has no speed but it races well. He will be good “if” he can stay in the draft. I like him more for Cash Contests since he starts 22nd and should score some place differential points. I do not think Harvick has top-five upside to win you a Tournament Contest.
AUSTIN DILLON ($8.4K FD $8.2K): Dillon will be a lock for all of my Cash Contest lineups. He had a tire go down at the end of the Duel Race so now he starts 36th. Dillon has an average finishing position of 17th in his last eight races at Daytona. He should have a good chance to score 20 place differential points Sunday.
BUBBA WALLACE JR. ($8.3K FD $9.7K): Wallace is good at Daytona and the problem is that everyone knows it. His ownership is probably going to be higher than it should be. I will have some shares of Wallace but I will be pivoting to a much lower owned Tyler Reddick who starts right next to Wallace and is cheaper.
ARIC ALMIROLA ($8K FD $8.5K): What do we do with Almirola Sunday? He looked awesome in qualifying and then looked completely lost in the Duel Race. I expect that Almirola sandbagged in the Duel Race to save his car once he lost the draft. Almirola starts 38th and even if he only has a decent race, he should score 18+ place differential points. Almirola will be in most of my Cash Contest and Tournament Contest lineups.
TYLER REDDICK ($7.7K FD $8.7K): Reddick will be one of my top drivers for the Tournament Contest lineups. I expect Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will draw a lot of ownership off of Reddick. He had a lot of success at Daytona in the Xfinity Series. This could be the race where that success translates into a top-five finish in the Cup Series.
JUSTIN HALEY ($7.4 K FD $6.7K): Haley is going to have a lot more ownership than he should have Sunday. Haley had a lot of success at Daytona when he wasn’t racing for points. He typically hung around the back and waited for the “Big One” before he made his move. Now Haley is racing for the Championship and he may be more aggressive to score some Stage Points. That could put Haley into a bad situation. I like Haley for Cash Contests based on his starting position but I will pivot to Ty Dillon in a lot of my Tournament Contests.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL (DK $7.2K FD $4.5K): I typically do not play many drivers who start in the top-10 but I trust McDowell. His win last year was not a fluke. He knows what he is doing in this race. McDowell probably will not have much ownership since he starts 6th. I will use him in some Tournament Contest lineups. He starts too high in the field to be used in Cash Contests.
ROSS CHASTAIN (DK $6.7K FD $7.2K): Chastain is either going to win the race Sunday or wreck while trying. He is one of the most aggressive drivers in the field. That could be a bad thing but drivers like Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all said that a driver needs to be aggressive to win the Daytona 500. I will take a chance with Chastain in some Tournament Contest lineups.
TY DILLON (DK 5,2K FD $4K): Dillon had a history of finishing in the top-10 at Daytona while driving for Germain Racing. Now he has a faster car. Dillon will not have a lot of ownership and he has a lot of upside. I will play Dillon in both Cash and Tournament Contests Sunday.
NOAH GRAGSON (DK $5.3K FD $3.5K ): Gragson is the best “punt play” Sunday. He starts 39th so there is nowhere to go but forward. He did not even try in the Duel Race because Beard Oil Motorsports did not have a backup car. A lot of people will remember how bad Gragson was in the Duel Race and decide to fade him. Gragson showed us what he had in practice Friday when he posted the 10th fastest speed. I will have a lot of shares of Gragson in Tournament Contests and some for Cash Contests.
Punt Plays: DANIEL HEMRICK (DK $7K FD $6K), CODY WARE (DK $4.8K, FD $2.5), B.J. MCLEOD (DK $4.5K FD $2K)
DraftKings Cash Contest Lineup
DraftKings Tournament Contest Lineup
FanDuel Cash Contest Lineup
FanDuel Tournament Contest Lineup
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