The 2023 Fantasy Live game is back, and it is the same rules as last year with updated graphics for the screen. The same game will likely mean the same results for the people who follow my picks. The best game for me has been the Fantasy Live game. My picks have outscored 99% of the competition for 12 consecutive seasons. I will do my best to help you win your league and I will be available on Twitter during the races to help you with your Garage Driver pick. It will be tough to find another website that is willing to be “Your Fantasy Racing Crew Chief” during the race.
STRATEGY FOR DAYTONA
I have been asked why my picks have been so successful in this game. The reason is that every plays the game wrong. It is all about the numbers….
There are 26 races in the regular season and we need five drivers per race. If we fade the top drivers at the Superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) and use road course aces (AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Daniel Suarez, Chase Briscoe, Chris Buescher, Michael McDowell) at the road courses, we do not need to dig too deep into our picks this year. Subtract the three Superspeedway races (two at Daytona and one at Talladega) and at least three of the road course races (COTA, Chicago Street, Indy Road Course); we only to find drivers for 20 races. The means we can narrow the group of drivers we will use for the 2023 season to 10 drivers (20 races and 5 drivers per race means we need 100 allocations. Each driver gets 10 allocations, so we need 10 drivers for the season). I plan to use Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, William Byron and Kyle Busch in most of the non-Superspeedways and road course races. I will sprinkle in some Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe and Alex Bowman in some races and that will give me a good group of drivers to choose from for each race. THERE IS NO REASON TO DIG DEEPER THAN ANY DRIVER LIST ABOVE ON A NON-SUPERSPEEDWAY TRACK.
I mapped out my allocations for each race. I matched each driver with his best tracks. I plan to save my top drivers for the non-Superspeedway tracks, but I will take a chance with one of the top drivers Sunday.
Denny Hamlin said on his Actions Detrimental podcast that NASCAR evaluated each car last year and found that the Chevys had the best balance between downforce and drag. The Toyota and Fords were behind on speed. Each team submitted a new nose for their cars for the 2023 season. Hamlin thinks the Chevy’s will still have an aero advantage on the intermediate tracks, but the Fords were able to take away some of their drag to make their cars faster on the Superspeedways. Hamlin thinks the Fords are the cars to beat in the Daytona 500, so I will use a lot of Fords in my picks this week.
Here are the picks for the Daytona 500 …
RYAN BLANEY (10): The best Superspeedway driver in the Cup Series is Ryan Blaney. Those are not my words; those are the words of Denny Hamlin on his podcast. Most people will not use Blaney because they want to save his allocations for the more predictable tracks. I am not one of those people. I mapped out the allocations with Blaney for the season and I had one left over. I will use Blaney Sunday and if he crashes, I will put him in the Garage and save the allocations. I think you can take a chance with one of your top drivers in Fantasy Live because we have the Garage driver as an insurance policy.
AUSTIN CINDRIC (10): Cindric won the Daytona 500 last year. Was it a fluke? I do not think so. Cindric also finished third in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona last year. He also finished ninth at Talladega. So what is the secret to his success? Team Penske works really well together at the Superspeedways. Cindric is often found locked onto the bumper or being pushed by Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. That is not a bad place to be on the track. Cindric should once again work with his teammates, run up front, score a lot of Stage Points and be a great pick for your Fantasy Live lineup.
ARIC ALMIROLA (10): Almirola is another driver who has had success on the Superspeedways, but has not won the Daytona 500. Almirola probably should have a Harley J. Earl Trophy in his case, but he was dumped by Austin Dillon on the final lap in the 2018 Daytona 500. Almirola clearly had that race won. Almirola said during Speedweeks Media Day, “It is really important to like Superspeedway racing. I do not think you can win unless you embrace it. I love this type of racing and that has helped me have success at these tracks.” I like having drivers with confidence in my lineups.
BRAD KESELOWSKI (10): There are a lot of reasons to use Keselowski Sunday. Keselowski has the most wins in the Cup Series on Superspeedways (7). He has never won the Daytona 500, but he has won the summer race and many Dual Races. Keselowski also loves to run up front, score bonus points for leading laps and bonus points for Stage Points. Keselowski led the second-most laps (44) and scored the second-most Stage Points (16) in the Daytona 500 last year. He has the best car in the field at pushing other drivers. He should be able to make his way to the front pretty easily Sunday.
KEVIN HARVICK (10): I mapped out my allocations for the 26 race Fantasy Live regular season and I have three left with Harvick. I wasn’t planning on using Harvick but then I heard him talk about the race at Media Days. Harvick said, “My approach to the Daytona 500 has been to be patient and wait until the end of the race to make my move. That often got me involved other driver wrecks. This is my final Daytona 500 and I have a lot receipts to cash in. I am going to be aggressive and try to win my second Daytona 500.” I rather have a driver doing the wrecking than to have the driver being wrecked in my lineup.
GARAGE DRIVER: BUBBA WALLACE (10): Denny Hamlin named his top-five drivers on Superspeedways on his podcast. The list included Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, himself (Denny Hamlin) and Bubba Wallace. He said Wallace really understand how the draft works and how to put his car up front at the end of the race. Wallace finished second in two of the last three races at Daytona (including last year’s Daytona 500). I will have Wallace in the Garage as an insurance policy just in case my Fords do not perform as well as I think they will.
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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