The 2021 Fantasy Live season has one race in the books and I hope your teams were able to survive the Daytona 500. My picks were decent. Denny Hamlin dominated the race and scored us 25 bonus points for winning both Stages and being the highest finishing Toyota driver. Austin Dillon also scored us 14 Stage points and the 5 points for being the highest scoring Chevy Driver. I sacrificed some points by putting Ryan Blaney in the Garage and Ryan Newman into the lineup. I figured that I would rather have the extra allocation with Blaney then the 12 points I lost in the race. The picks scored 152 points and are beating 76.6% of the competition. I have finished in the top 99.5% with a lot worse starts to the season. Now it is back to Daytona to do some road course racing…
Here are my picks for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253…
I mapped out my allocations with each driver for each race. I do this each year to ensure I am using each driver at their best tracks. I will tweak it during the season if a driver gets on a hot-streak, but it gives me an idea of what allocations I have left with each driver.
Chase Elliott (10): Chase Elliott is the best pick in Fantasy Live this week. He won the last four road course races and the No. 9 car was the best at the Daytona Road Course last year. Elliott won Stage 1, finished 7th in Stage 2, led 34 of the 65 laps and went to Victory Lane. The only reason why he did not dominate the Busch Clash last week was because he started dead last. Elliott still came one turn away from taking the checkered-flag again. Even if Elliott crashes on lap one, he will not hurt us because everyone will be using him this week.
Martin Truex Jr. (10): Martin Truex Jr. is the second-best pick behind Chase Elliott. He has an average finishing position of 4.2 in his last 9 road course races. It would be 2.7 if he was not dumped by Jimmie Johnson in the last turn of the first race at the Charlotte Roval. Truex started 3rd in this race last year. He scored 3 Stage points, led 10 laps and finished 3rd. The only reason he did not score more Stage points or lead more laps is because he had a pit road penalty. Truex also had one of the best cars in the Busch Clash. The No. 19 car will have a good chance of winning the race Sunday.
Denny Hamlin (9): Denny Hamlin ran well at the Daytona Road Course last year and he had one of the cars to beat in the Busch Clash race. Hamlin started 2nd, won Stage 2, led 16 laps (2nd most in the race) and finished 2nd. He started 3rd in the Busch Clash and led 21 of the 35 laps on his way to the 6th place finish. Hamlin should score a lot of Stage points and finish up front again this week. Do not worry about using another allocation with Hamlin. I have the allocations mapped out, so we will be fine.
Kyle Busch (10): I had to choose between Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney for my 4th driver this week. Both are good picks but I decided to go with Busch because Joe Gibbs Racing seems to have this track figure out. Busch had a fast car last year but had a tire go down early in the race. He came back last week and ran most of the race in the top five. I mapped out my allocations with Rowdy at his best tracks and I had one start left over. I will use it this week.
Michael McDowell (10): I originally had Michael McDowell penciled in as my Garage pick for this race and then he goes out and wins the Daytona 500. Now McDowell will start on the front row and have a good chance to score a lot of Stage points. Last year he started 30th and finished 10th at the Daytona Road Course. You would think he could finish in the top-10 again from the front row. If not, I have a good insurance policy in the Garage.
Garage Driver: A.J. Allmendinger (10) will be tough to beat this week. No driver in the field comes anywhere close to Allmendinger when it comes to experience on the Daytona Road Course. He has run 8 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Races and finished 6 of them in the top 10. Now he gets to run the Xfinity Series race Saturday as a warm up for Sunday’s Cup Series race. If Allmendinger can avoid mechanical issues, he could win this race. I will start him in the Garage and see how he runs in Stages 1 and 2.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.
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