The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway this weekend for the Go Bowling 235–but not so fast, this isn’t the typical Daytona race you’re thinking of. Instead, the track has been transformed into a 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course with a sharp, nearly 180-degree turn soon after the start/finish line. Here’s what it looks like (click to make the image bigger):
The Cup Series drivers will get no practice or track time on this new venue before the green flag Sunday, so not only will us Fantasy NASCAR players be going in blind, but so will the drivers. An over-aggressive move on lap one could see a pileup just like we had in the first race at the Charlotte Roval in 2018. If you don’t remember that, check out the video below (I’d recommend muting it so you don’t have to deal with Rick Allen’s screaming).
Of course, these are all professional race car drivers we’re talking about, so I personally don’t see that happening on lap one, but there is a chance it does. After all, we still have guys like Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. who need a win to make the Playoffs, and he’ll dive bomb without thinking twice.
Now, before we get in to the meat and potatoes of this post, let’s go over the recent speed by teams. The Playoffs are right around the corner so it shouldn’t be surprising that the true contenders are starting to consistently be the fastest in the field no matter where we go.
Speed Report in 2020 After Michigan
Kevin Harvick wasn’t as much faster than the field on Sunday at Michigan as he was in the Saturday race, but he still locked down the #1 spot in both Green Flag Speed and race finish. That is his fourth Green Flag Speed win of the season, and he now has an average season-long ranking of 6.2 in that category. Next best is Chase Elliott with a 7.6 average.
Over the last six races here are the fastest drivers in terms of Green Flag Speed:
- Kevin Harvick (6.2 average rank)
Joey Logano (6.2 average rank
- ***tie for 1st***
- Ryan Blaney (6.8 average rank)
Kyle Busch (6.8 average rank)
- ***tie for 3rd***
- Denny Hamlin (7.3 average rank)
Brad Keselowski (7.3 average rank)
You can click here to check out the updated Cheat Sheet on Green Flag Speed and see how every driver ranks in that category plus more, not only for the last six races but for the whole season.
DraftKings Strategy for the Daytona Road Course
This week’s race can be filed under the “new and different” category. First, as I said before: we have NEVER raced here before. There are drivers in the field that have some experience on part of it, but stuff like the chicane is new. Plus, those drivers don’t have experience in Cup cars (obviously). Here are those guys, though, in case you’re wondering:
- Kyle Busch (ran this year’s Rolex 24 and one previous Paul Revere 250)
- Michael McDowell (has been involved in seven Rolex 24s and two Paul Revere 250s)
- Jimmie Johnson (involved in seven Rolex 24s and one Paul Revere 250)
- James Davison (three-time Rolex 24 participant)
- Kurt Busch (two-time Rolex 24 participant)
- Matt Kenseth (one-time Rolex 24 participant)
- Kevin Harvick (one-time Rolex 24 participant)
- Clint Bowyer (one-time Rolex 24 participant)
- Timmy Hill (one-time Rolex 24 participant)
Second, this is an extremely short race: just 65 laps, and that totals out to 234.65 miles (hence the Go Bowling 235 race title). In DraftKings we’re looking at just 16.25 FPTS for laps led, and maybe 20-25 FPTS for fastest laps. If there’s carnage, we won’t get a lot of green flag action. Third, the choose rule that we saw in both Daytona races will NOT be used this weekend at the Daytona Road Course. Fourth, rain tires will be available if needed on Sunday, which would just add another layer of uncertainty (but ultimately some fun for us fans). And finally, the starting lineup for this race was set (for the first time) by NASCAR’s new formula. Kevin Harvick is on the pole and the full starting lineup can be found by clicking here.
Without any Daytona Road Course-specific history, we have to look at the other road courses on the schedule: the Charlotte Roval, Sonoma, and Watkins Glen. As far as this weekend goes, I’ll be leaning heavily on the recent Charlotte Roval races as well as the Sonoma races. You can throw in Watkins Glen in there as well since it’s a road course but I think the other two compare much better. Don’t forget: strategy also comes into play big time with the road course races, and that could be especially true this weekend with the super short race and the Stages still taking place.
Lineup Construction: I think main lineup construction needs to focus mainly on finishing position and place differential. There’s a chance this turns out just like a superspeedway race and there’s carnage, making it all about survival. This opens the door to making lineups and purposely leaving cap on the table, too. There are some guys that start further back that will could get you a bunch of place differential points, but finishing position will be also key on Sunday. In other words, I’m not overly concerned with dominator points here. Fastest laps could easily be a crap shoot since most of this track is still the “actual” Daytona, and even if a driver leads the whole race that’s only 16.25 FPTS for laps led–an amount that would be wiped out even by losing just seven positions from leading.
The Best Drivers at Road Courses in 2018-2019
First let’s take a look at the recent road course performance by the drivers in the field. Only those that have made Cup Series starts during that time frame on these tracks are included in the table below. The races included are the two at the Charlotte Roval, the two at Sonoma, and the two at Watkins Glen. They are titled ROV, SON, and WG (respectively) in the table headers with the number after signifying the year.
|Truex, Jr., Martin||04.50||7||14||1||1||2||2|
|Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky||20.67||17||37||21||18||15||16|
The Best Drivers at Road Courses Since 2016
Personally, I don’t like looking past the last couple of years on road courses, simply because it seems like we have 2-year shifts of who is good and who isn’t. That seems to be the cycle in my mind anyway. But I’m here to provide the data if you’d like to see it. The table below shows the road course races since 2016. We have only raced at the Charlotte Roval for two years, so there’s only two included there.
|Truex, Jr., Martin||07.70||7||14||1||1||37||5||2||2||1||7|
|Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky||24.60||17||37||21||18||38||26||15||16||20||38|
GPP / Tournament Picks I Love for the Go Bowling 235
Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,100) – With this short of a race, taking guys that start up front is actually a pretty big risk. But DraftKings priced most of them appropriately where I feel like a lot of players will fall into the trap. I’m not a huge fan of going too heavy with the front row on Sunday, but row two intrigues me. Kyle Busch ($9,800) is priced well and starts 4th, but can you trust him? He did run the Rolex 24 race here at the Daytona Road Course earlier this year, so that’s an advantage. But if I’m going to go really heavy on a top 5 starter on Sunday, I think it’ll be Truex. He’s won the last two Sonoma races and finished 2nd in the last two Watkins Glen races. Additionally, Truex is averaging the 2nd-most fastest laps at the Charlotte Roval (8 per race) and the most fastest laps on road courses overall since the start of 2018 (16.7 per race).
William Byron ($8,600) – Willy B may have an average finish of just 18.8 over the last six road course races, but don’t let that deter you from picking him this weekend. What we’ve seen with Byron on this track type is progress, and that kind of trend makes him a great sleeper pick this week. Last year at Sonoma, Byron led 21 laps but ultimately finished 19th, and then at the Charlotte Roval he redeemed himself with 23 laps led and a 6th-place finish. Byron will start from 13th here at the Daytona Road Course on Sunday, and that higher starting spot paired with his $8,600 salary should keep his ownership relatively low. I think he’s a great option to be heavy on. Remember, Byron is a big iRacing fanatic, and there’s no doubt he has put in hours upon hours in at this track on there. Also, if you’re looking for another GPP pivot here, Clint Bowyer ($8,800) is a solid option who has three top 5s in the last six road course races.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800) – Remember: a significant portion of this track on Sunday is still the Daytona that we all know and love. I think that gives a slight advantage to the Fords in terms of speed. And we all know how Matty D usually does when we go to a track where driver talent has more of a say in the finish than usual. Last year at the road courses, DiBenedetto finished 4th at Sonoma, 6th at Watkins Glen, and 11th at the Charlotte Roval. He starts up in 9th here at the Daytona Road Course on Sunday, so there’s definitely some risk in taking him, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if DiBenedetto came home top 5. I think he’s a great GPP option.
Cash Core Drivers I Love for the Go Bowling 235
The obvious cash drivers are Ryan Blaney ($11,000) and Brad Keselowski ($10,600) since they start back in 24th and 17th (respectively). However, their salaries are the two highest on the slate, so let’s go through some other drivers I like for cash lineups:
Chase Elliott ($10,300) – If Chase Elliott isn’t the best road course racer in the Cup Series right now, he’s definitely in the conversation. Chase has won the last two races at Watkins Glen and also went to victory lane last year at the Charlotte Roval. Overall, he’s finished 6th or better in five of the last six road course races, with the only exception being his 37th-place finish at Sonoma in 2019. Take that out of the equation and Chase’s average finish is 2.6 on this track type. He starts back in 7th on Sunday and should be a contender for the win. Lock him in.
Alex Bowman ($8,200) – Alex Bowman will start from back in 27th on Sunday at the Daytona Road Course, which makes him a cash target for any race. But let’s look at how Bowman has ran over the recent road course races: 4th and 2nd at the Charlotte Roval, 9th and 14th at Sonoma, and 14th in both Watkins Glen races. That’s an average finish of 9.5 over those six events, which is 5th-best in the series. Bowman is a great option all around this weekend, and since this is a very short race, there’s not as much time for him to do his patented second half of the race fade.
Michael McDowell ($7,000) – You could easily throw Brendan Gaughan ($7,500) into a cash lineup this week since he starts back in 39th and has top 20 potential with some carnage, but I actually like Michael McDowell at the cheaper price a little bit more even though he starts nine spots higher on Sunday. Hell, you could even run both of them. But anyway, McDowell is a really good road course racer, and over the last three years he has averaged a finish of 18.3 over the three tracks. His best finish during those six races has been 12th at the Charlotte Roval, while his worst result has been 25th at Sonoma. Go back to the start of 2016 and McDowell has an average finish of 19.2 with finishes of 18th or better in seven of the ten races.
Daytona Road Course 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 and fastest laps for each driver. 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||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||3||$10,100||51.7||02.8||18||10||$195|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||25||$6,500||23.7||22.3||0||0||$275|
|John H. Nemechek||28||$6,400||22.8||24.7||0||0||$280|