Driver Group Game Picks for Daytona


Welcome back for another season of Fantasy NASCAR and thank you for selecting as your recourse to help you win your league. I did a lot of studying over the offseason to give us a competitive advantage. I expect another good season, but we are going to need some luck to get through the Great American Race with all of our cars crossing the finish line.

The default rules for the Driver Group Game have changed this season since most of the races will not have practice or qualifying. To see my breakdown of the new rules, check out my article: Introducing the 2021 Driver Group Game. My picks this season will be based on the default rules, but I will try my best to give you other options for each group.

The Daytona is an unpredictable race because drivers do not control their fate in this race. They do their best to be in the best position to win the Daytona 500, but if a driver two rows ahead of them screws up, the driver will find his car in the fence. The best way to eliminate this risk is to look at the drivers who score the most Stage points. A driver who crashes could still score well if he scores a lot of Stage points. Here are the driver’s stage points in the current aero package at Daytona. (Only Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have scored Stage points in every Stage in the current aero package)


Here are my picks for the Daytona 500


Driver Group Game A Picks

My Group A Pick is Joey Logano: I debated back-and-forth between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. You need to use one of them for the Daytona 500. I decided to go with Logano. The No. 22 car has been very good at Daytona. He crashed last year, but he was money before that. Logano finished 4th in 2019, 4th in 2018, 6th in 2017, 6th in 2016 and 1st in 2015 in the Daytona 500. No driver in the race is as good as Logano at scoring Stage points, so he has a great chance to be the highest scoring driver in the Driver Group Game.

 Other Good Picks: Denny Hamlin has been the safest picks on the Superspeedways. Hamlin has finished 1st, 3rd, 4th, 1st and 3rd in his last 5 races on the Superspeedways. No driver is even close to Hamlin in average finishing position. I decided with Joey Logano over Hamlin because I want to save Hamlin for the more predictable races. The other reason I went with Logano over Hamlin is because there is a lot of pressure on Hamlin Sunday. He is trying to become the first driver to win 3 consecutive Daytona 500’s and he is starting a new race team. Hamlin will be a great pick, but the distractions “could” take away from Hamlin’s mental advantage he has over the field in this race.

Allocation Saver: Ryan Blaney is a good pick if you are concerned with saving allocations. There is a good chance you will not use all 9 allocations with Blaney in 2019. He is very good on the Superspeedways. He won 2 of the last 3 races at Talladega and Blaney finished 2nd in the Daytona 500 last year. If you want to be different from the other people in your league, Blaney is your driver Sunday.

Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Joey Logano 2) Denny Hamlin 3) Ryan Blaney 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Chase Elliott 6) Brad Keselowski 7) Martin Truex Jr.


Driver Group Game B Picks

My 1st Group B Pick is Aric Almirola: Almirola had the fastest Ford in qualifying and the fastest car in his Duel race. Almirola led 52 of the 60 laps and now he will likely be starting from the front row Sunday (If William Byron goes to a backup car and starts in the back). Almirola has been better at Talladega than he has been at Daytona, but he has had some decent finishes at Daytona. That No. 10 car is too good to pass up, so I will take a chance with Almirola Sunday.

My 2nd Group B Pick Will Be Austin Dillon: Dillon is no stranger to finishing up front at Daytona. He won the 2018 Daytona 500 and Dillon finished 16th in 2019 and 12th last year. His car looked fast and it had a lot of drivability in it. Dillon should spend a lot of the race up front, score a lot of Stage points and should have a good chance for a top-10 finish Sunday. There is just something special about the No. 3 car at Daytona.

Other Good Picks: Ryan Newman is the safest pick in Group A for the Daytona 500. He came one turn away from winning the Daytona 500 last year. Newman has finished 9th, 14th and 8th in his 3 Daytona 500’s in the current aero package. Newman looked good in his Duel race Thursday. He will be a good pick if you do not trust Aric Almirola or Austin Dillon.

Allocation Save: Chris Buescher is a good driver if you want to save allocations Sunday. Buescher has finished 5 of his last 6 races at Daytona in the top-10. That includes a 3rd-place finish last year and a pair of 5th-place finishes in 2018. If you want to save Aric Almirola or Austin Dillon for more predictable tracks, Buescher should be the driver your pivot to Sunday.

Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Aric Almirola 2) Austin Dillon 3) Ryan Blaney 4) Ryan Newman 5) Chris Buescher 6) William Byron 7) Kyle Busch 8) Kurt Busch 9) Alex Bowman 10) Christopher Bell


Driver Group Game C Picks

Michael McDowell: I debated between McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Bubba Wallace Jr. for my Group C pick this week. I decided to go with McDowell since he is the safer pick. McDowell has finished nine of the last 10 races at Daytona in the top-15 with a 12.5 average finishing position. He is almost a lock for a top-15 finish. I will take it.

Other Good Picks: Ricky Stenhouse is very good at running up front and scoring Stage points. Stenhouse has score Stage points in every race in the current aero package and he has led at least one lap in 5 of the 6 races. Stenhouse is almost a lock to score top-five bonus points in this race, but his average finishing position is 22.5 with no finishes in the top-10. Stenhouse is a high risk, high reward driver Sunday.

Other Good Picks: Bubba Wallace has looked fast all Speedweeks. He posted the fast speed by a Toyota in qualifying and Wallace spent most of the race running up front in his Duel race. Wallace will have a lot of help from Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Chris Bell in the race because there are not a lot of Toyota’s in the field. I did not use Wallace because I do not trust him to get the job done for 500 miles.

Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Michael McDowell 2) Bubba Wallace Jr. 3) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 4) David Ragan 5) Jamie McDowell


Driver Group Game Team

* There are two practices Saturday. If anything happens to the drivers I picks in practice, I will update my picks.


Good luck this week!


*Stats from Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Pro