Fantasy NASCAR Preview for Daytona

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will travel back to Daytona International Speedway this week for the Coke Zero 400. It will be the second race of the season at Daytona and the third race on a superspeedway.  The race can be seen Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.

The MENCS will have another unique schedule this week. There will be two practices Thursday (2 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET), followed by qualifying Friday at 4 p.m. ET. Fantasy players will get to see the two practices sessions Thursday before our rosters lock at 8 a.m. ET Friday. Practice times do not matter much on the superspeedways so I do not expect any changes in my picks this week.

Alex Bowman won the pole for the last race at Daytona. That is not a surprise. Hendrick Motorsports has won the pole in 4 of the last 8 restrictor-plate races. 14 drivers were able to lead laps in the Daytona 500 but most of the race had Ryan Blaney in the lead. He led 118 of the 207 laps and was clearly the most dominant driver. 15 of the 40 cars crashed out of the race. In the end Austin Dillon dumped Aric Almirola on the last lap and won the 60th running of the Great American Race.

Race Rewind at Daytona: Daytona 500 (2018)

The Garage Talk Notes will be a little different this week. Usually I receive a lot of information on the speed of each car. That is not the case on the restrictor-plate tracks. Teams usually know how their cars handle but the true speed is not found until the cars get in race conditions. I will provide information for each driver as to how he has performed on the superspeedways in the past and provide any information I find out from the garage. It should still be enough information to give you an advantage over your competition.

 

DraftKings NASCAR Preview

Forget about the dominators this week. There are only 160 laps in the race and 80 points available for fastest laps and 40 points for laps led. The trend in the summer race at Daytona is to have one driver lead 80 laps, another lead 20 laps, two drivers lead 10 laps and the rest of the laps spread throughout the field. The driver who leads the most laps usually scores 10 or fewer fastest laps. The fastest laps are spread throughout the field and even the cars who qualify last tend to score one fastest lap in the race.

So the top dominator this week will probably score 20 points for leading laps and 5 points for fastest laps. This driver usually qualifies up front so there is a huge risk of the driver crashing and losing place differential points. The bottom line is… do not chase dominator points this week.

We need to focus on place differential points (positions gained in the race). Starting positions are meaningless at Daytona. Drivers who qualify outside the top 30 can easily finish inside the top 5. It will be ok to select one driver who starts inside the top 15, but most of your drivers should start outside the top 20 this week.

One more piece of advice… Do not be afraid to leave some of your salary cap on the table this week. My picks have consistently cashed in at the restrictor-plate tracks and the lineups usually leave $1K or more salary cap on the table. Our goal is to pick the best drivers possible to score our team maximum points. You do not need to spend all $50K to do that. Just look at the drivers who have scored the most points at Daytona over the last two years (See chart below)…

 

Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 4 Races at Daytona

Driver

Avg. Finish Pos. Laps Led DK Points

1. AJ Allmendinger

8.5 3

56.5

2. Michael McDowell

9.5 2 53.5

3. Darrell Wallace Jr.

7.5 1

50.75

4. Aric Almirola

10 16 48

5. Paul Menard

12.5 1

47.75

6. Ryan Blaney

12.2 129 47.5

7. Ryan Newman

13 0

47.5

8. Kyle Larson

16.5 16 46.5

9. Matt Dibendetto

19.5 0

45

10. Trevor Bayne

12.2 2 41

11. William Byron

23 0

40

12. Joey Logano

12.2 25 38

13. David Ragan

19.5 5

37

14. Clint Bowyer

14.5 5 36.5

15. Landon Cassill

22 0

35.5

 

I will post my final DraftKings picks Saturday morning.

 

Fantasy Live Preview

My Fantasy Live picks scored well last week but it should have been a lot better. I had Kyle Busch in my starting lineup and he could barely crack the top 12 in the first two stages. I figured his allocations would be worth a lot more than a 12th-place finish so I put him in the garage. The Fantasy Gods decided to teach me a lesson… Never put Kyle Busch in the garage. Lesson learned! I was still able to move back inside the top 100 overall. My picks are ranked 85th out of nearly 400,000 entries.

*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 4 p.m. ET Friday. My pick for the pole will be posted after the final practice Thursday (5 p.m. ET) on the front page of this website.

**Garage Driver:  I have been doing my best to keep everyone informed by using my Twitter account @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will do it again Sunday so make sure you follow me and get all of the information about the cars as I scan the drivers throughout the race.

It will be very important this week to save allocations. Do not use Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson or Clint Bowyer in this race. These drivers have dominated the 1.5 and 2-mile ovals so we need to save them for those tracks. This is the week to take some chances on the drivers we have not used many times this season.

Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…

 

5 Starting Drivers

Aric Almirola (9): Almirola came so close to winning the Daytona 500. He drove a great race and it was his first time in the seat of the No. 10 car. Almirola backed up his strong run at Daytona with a 7th-place finish at Talladega. Almirola was very good at the superspeedways even before joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Almirola has finished five consecutive plate races in the top 11. He is one of the best drivers at staying out of trouble and one of the safest picks for your team this week.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (8): People say you have to be a little crazy to run well on the superspeedways. Stenhouse either has more guts or less brains than the completion. He often drives his car where he should not go. Stenhouse told Fox Sports, “I learned a lot from Dale Earnhardt Jr. He taught me that you must be aggressive on these tracks and that is the way I drive. If you worry about trouble it will usually find you.” Stenhouse used his aggressive drafting style to win two plate races last year. He will make you very nervous if he is in your lineup but usually he pays off with a good finish for your team.

Paul Menard (8): The one thing the Wood Brothers do better than any other team is setting up a car for the restrictor-plate tracks. It does not matter who is in the car, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney or Paul Menard, you know the No. 21 car will be fast. Menard has been a safe pick on the superspeedways. He has finished six of the last seven races at these tracks in the top 13. Menard finished 6th in the Daytona 500 and he should add another top-10 finish Saturday night.

Austin Dillon (10): Dillon won the Daytona 500 this year and it was not because of luck. Dillon is very good at restrictor-plate racing. He led the series in lead lap finishes until his 2017 season when he found trouble in three of the four races. Dillon has finished three of the last five races at Daytona in the top 10. This is a good week to use an allocation with Dillon and save the top drivers for more predictable tracks.

Alex Bowman (10): There is a good chance the No. 88 car will start up front Saturday night. Hendrick Motorsports has won the pole in 4 of the last 8 restrictor-plate races. Bowman won the pole for the Daytona 500 and finished 17th. He backed it up with an 8th-place finish at Talladega. There is something special about the No. 88 car on the superspeedways. Bowman must have learned a few tricks from Dale Earnhardt Jr. because he has performed well at these tracks this year. I will take my chances with Bowman this week.

 

Garage Driver

I plan to have Denny Hamlin (4) in the garage this week. Hamlin is a lot better at Daytona than he is at Talladega. Daytona is more of a handling track and crew chief Mike Wheeler is good at providing Hamlin a car that can work through traffic. Hamlin has led a series-high 140 laps in the last four races at Daytona. He finished third in the Daytona 500 and should be a threat to win Saturday night. Hamlin will be a good insurance policy to have in the Garage.

 

Bonus Picks

My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…

Pick for the Pole: Alex Bowman

Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney

Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin

Race Winner: Joey Logano

Winning Manufacturer: Ford

 

 

Fantrax Bronze Point Salary Cap Game Preview

I cannot catch a break in the Fantrax Bronze Point Salary Cap game. I followed the scoring for this game for much of the race last week. Every time I looked my lineup was in first place. I checked the scores after the race and I finished near the back. What the hell happened?!! Many of my drivers fell deep in the pack in the last 20 laps. I will keep providing picks for this game but to be truthful I think they are jinxed.

I will evaluate the drivers on this team during the practice sessions this week and try to get as much information as possible to help us win. Here is the lineup I have “penciled in” right now…

Kevin Harvick

Martin Truex Jr.

Kyle Busch

Kurt Busch

Clint Bowyer

Ryan Blaney

Paul Menard

Aric Almirola

Alex Bowman

William Byron

 

*Stats from Driveraverages.com and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info

 

If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR

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