It’s finally here! The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season will officially start on Sunday with the 62nd running of the Daytona 500–the Great American Race. Now, when it comes to these superspeedway races (the ones at Daytona and Talladega), this isn’t like a normal race–literally any driver in the field is on the table in DraftKings. Seriously, I could convince myself to pick any one of the 40 drivers. But in most races, we see similar things happening, and that has allowed a general strategy to form when it comes to these events, which we’ll get to in a bit.
First, a couple of things: Ryan Blaney and Corey LaJoie went to backup cars and will have to start from the rear on Sunday. This isn’t a big deal, but for those wondering, their starting positions do not change. They will still be scored from 27th and 36th (respectively) in DraftKings on Sunday. Second, if you’re curious as to how drivers did at Daytona and Talladega last season, click here to see those statistics. They may surprise you. Speaking of LaJoie, he scored the most DraftKings points on these tracks last season (seriously).
By the way, my projected driver scores for the Daytona 500 are posted at the bottom of this article. It’s kind of long so if you’re just here for those, scroll down.
DraftKings Strategy Tactics for the Daytona 500
In my opinion, the first thing to talk about strategy-wise is manufacturers. Yes, Chevrolet won the second Duel race on Thursday night, but let’s not forget that half of that field was Chevrolets, and at the end, it was a strength in numbers scenario. Under normal conditions and a full field, Kevin Harvick probably would have won. So when it comes to DraftKings on Sunday, I’m using this rule of thumb: play Chevys for place differential and place differential only. There is such a difference in strength between them and the Fords and Toyotas that it’s just hard to imagine a high-starting Chevy being in the winning lineup.
Now, strategy-wise, taking down a GPP at a restrictor plate race is usually done with a roster that is heavy on that one thing: place differential. That’s the king at tracks like Daytona and Talladega, and I fully expect that to be the case with Sunday’s Daytona 500 as well.
There’s a little bit more strategy involved than just picking six drivers that are starting in the back of the field, though: there are going to be guys that finish up front that possibly started there–or at least in the top half of the field. Ideally, I personally like to build my lineups with this kind of breakdown in mind:
- Top 5 starting spot: sparingly
- Top 10 starting spot: one driver, absolute max of two
- 11th-24th starting spot: two drivers
- 25th-40th starting spot: three drivers
Now, you may be asking yourself, “what about dominator points?” which is a valid question. My answer? Try not to focus too much on them. As far as fastest laps go, they will be sporadic throughout the race. When it comes to laps led, that’s a bit of a different story, but kind of similar. We’re set to run 200 laps at Daytona on Sunday, which will equal 50 DraftKings FPTS for laps led. That’s a pretty good chunk. I typically choose my higher-starting driver(s) in my lineups as the guys who I think will be able to lead a lot.
GPP Drivers I Love for the Daytona 500
PLAY: Joey Logano ($10,500) – If you’re going to roster anyone starting in the top 5, Joey Logano is your best option. And the reason I like him as a GPP tournament play in DraftKings is because there’s three other drivers on this slate that are priced at $9,800 or higher that all start outside of the top 20. Most casual DraftKings players will gravitate toward those guys for the place differential points, and it’s going to be difficult to fit Logano in their lineup after that. As far as track record goes, Logano hasn’t finished worse than 6th in the Daytona 500 since 2014 season, and in that race he ended up 11th. Seriously. He’s finished 4th in the last two Great American Races and was the winner here back in 2015. Last year, Joey had an average finish of 11th at the superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega, which was 4th-best in the series.
PLAY: Ty Dillon ($5,700) – When it comes to GPP tournaments at Daytona and Talladega, I love looking at the pricing structure and seeing how drivers look next to each other. For example, when you go to put in a lineup this weekend, scroll down to Ty Dillon. You’ll notice he’s sandwiched there between Michael McDowell, Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece, and David Ragan–all of which start in a worse position than Ty. So naturally, most casual DraftKings players are going to skip over Dillon. That’s where I like to exploit the situation and go heavy on the under-owned guy. Ty is currently on a three-race streak of top 6 finishes at Daytona and has finished 16th or better in four of the last five points-paying races here. Yeah, I’ll take that all day.
EDIT: I’d like to add in Ryan Newman ($7,600) as a GPP tournament play this weekend. Yeah, he starts up in 7th, but “The Rocketman” has finished 8th or better in four of the last five Daytona races and has more than enough power under the hood with that Ford engine. I’ll also probably be overweight on Kyle Larson ($8,000), who starts 8th.
CHALK PLAY: Denny Hamlin ($10,400) – It’s hard not to consider Denny Hamlin the favorite heading into Sunday’s Great American Race. That #11 Toyota has looked incredible all Speedweeks long, and there’s no doubt Denny would have won the Clash last Sunday if he was on the lead lap on the final restart. Additionally, Hamlin didn’t finish well in his Duel only because he was the only one trying to make moves. Looking at his history here at Daytona, Hamlin is pretty ridiculous. Over the last twelve points-paying races here, Denny has seven finishes of 6th or better, including two Daytona 500 wins. He starts 21st this weekend and is a great cash game play. As far as GPP tournaments go, though, I don’t mind being underweight on Hamlin from a pure strategy standpoint, but it depends how risky you want to get.
CHALK PLAY: Ryan Preece ($5,300) – In cash games, Ryan Preece is a great option. He had an average finish of 15.3 on the superspeedways last year, including an 8th-place finish in the 2019 Daytona 500. Additionally, he starts back in 31st on Sunday, so the risk is relatively low here. The other thing I really like about Ryan Preece this weekend is the fact that his new teammate is Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,800). Whether you like him or not, Ricky is a great superspeedway racer, and he could very well lead a bunch of laps on Sunday. Who knows, maybe Ryan Preece has learned a couple tricks from Ricky?
GPP Fade Options for the Daytona 500
FADE: Brad Keselowski ($10,200) – I made this same call last year, and it didn’t work out for me at all. But, you know what? I’m not a quitter. Brad Keselowski starts 9th and is the 3rd-highest-priced driver on this slate, so I’m not sure how high his ownership percentage will be, but no matter what I’ll be underweight. Keselowski is a great superspeedway racer, but he can’t finish at Daytona. It’s that simple. He won the July race here in 2016, yes, but that’s his only top 10 at Daytona in the last 11 races. His 12th-place finish here in last year’s Daytona 500 is his only top 20 in the last six points-paying races. He had an average finish of 22.3 on the superspeedways last year. Do I really need to go on? The only number you really need to know with Keselowski this weekend is two, and that’s the number of top 10 finishes he has in his CAREER in the Daytona 500. He has four total in points-paying races at this track over 21 total starts. P.S. I also like being underweight on Kez’s teammate, Ryan Blaney ($9,300), who starts in 29th–meaning he’ll be very high owned–but also hasn’t finished better than 31st in the last three Daytona races.
FADE: Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,500) – Martin Truex, Jr. and Brad Keselowski basically have the same resumé at Daytona. In 29 career points-paying starts here, Truex has a grant total of four top 10 finishes, just like Kez. Although Martin bests Brad in the top 10 finishes in the Daytona 500, as he has three compared to BK’s two. But still, that’s awful. Truex starts 15th on Sunday and that paired with his name is going to make him a little higher owned than he should be. However, I’ll gladly do a full fade on Truex every time we come to Daytona. Yeah, a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, but I’d rather be right nine times out of ten than one single time. If the #19 Toyota started a little further back I might consider Truex but that’s not the case.
CHALK FADE: Clint Bowyer ($8,600) – When it comes to Clint Bowyer and superspeedways, it’s always an interesting tale. Talladega and Daytona is almost Jekyll and Hyde for Bowyer, as he’s had a ton of success at the former but historically hasn’t been too good at the latter. And last year, Bowyer wasn’t good at either of them, as he averaged a finish of 26.5 at the four superspeedway races. Further, Clint has historically struggled in the Daytona 500, and over the past four Great American Races his average result is 25th. He also hasn’t finished better than 20th in the last three points-paying races at Daytona. Bowyer starts 29th for this year’s 500, so he’s sure to garner plenty of ownership. Among the chalk back there, he’s my top candidate to go severely underweight on or fade completely.
CHALK FADE: Corey LaJoie ($5,500) – Last season, Corey LaJoie made many people a ton of money at the superspeedway races. Not only did he have the 3rd-best average finish in the series (10.5), but he also scored the most DraftKings points per race at Daytona and Talladega (56.9 DK points). So he seems like a no-brainer pick in DraftKings this week, especially since he starts way back in 36th, right? Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like no-brainer picks at superspeedways when it comes to GPPs. There’s a very good chance that Corey LaJoie is the highest-owned driver in DraftKings on Sunday, and you know me and my strategy: ultra contrarian. I love the #32 Ford in cash lineups but I’ll be way underweight in GPPs, and instead pivot to Michael McDowell ($5,900) or the aforementioned Ty Dillon.
Daytona 500 DraftKings Projections
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems. Also included are projected laps led for each driver. This doesn’t take into account fastest laps. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||15||$9,500||30.3||15.0||5||$314|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||1||$8,800||26.3||13.0||29||$335|
|John H. Nemechek||23||$5,100||14.6||26.2||0||$349|