The NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season comes to an end on Saturday night, as the 2020 Playoffs field will be officially set after the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The races here and at Talladega are some of the most wild ones on the schedule, and when it comes to DraftKings, it’s honestly just best to sit back and enjoy the race and check to see how your lineups did when it’s all over. You can go from winning nothing to winning thousands in one lap here, or vice versa. For Saturday night’s race, Kevin Harvick is on the pole, and you can see the full starting lineup by clicking here. Other than that, let’s get into this post, because I love analyzing stuff for these races! Bare with me on the length…

The Best Drivers on Superspeedways Lately

Corey LaJoie Old Spice Face Car
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

This first section is typically reserved for a brief Green Flag Speed breakdown, but we’re not going to do that this weekend. This Cup Series field is the most equal at Daytona and Talladega. Typically the Fords have an advantage here, but they need to avoid the wrecks. There’s your speed breakdown. If you do want to check out Green Flag Speed, you can click here to check out the updated Cheat Sheet on Green Flag Speed and see how every driver ranks in that category.

Instead, let’s look at recent races at superspeedway tracks, and how drivers are performing. Here’s a breakdown of the last six races (all four races in 2019, plus the two points-paying ones in 2020), sorted by DraftKings FPTS per race. You can click column headers to sort by the other statistics as well.

The Best Superspeedway Racers in 2019 & 2020

Driver# RacesAvg. DraftKings PointsAvg. FinishAvg. StartAvg. Fast LapsAvg. Laps Led
Corey Lajoie655.2911.0032.0002.5000.17
John H. Nemechek251.0009.5022.5007.0000.00
Denny Hamlin645.7511.8317.0003.8322.00
Ryan Newman644.5410.0015.8307.8303.17
Ty Dillon644.2113.1722.6707.1701.17
Brendan Gaughan542.1019.4035.0003.8000.00
Michael McDowell640.2115.8324.6706.1700.50
Ryan Preece639.5817.5028.1704.5000.67
Ross Chastain536.9520.6032.4002.6001.80
Ryan Blaney636.0014.3313.1703.0020.00
JJ Yeley232.2524.0035.5001.5000.00
Erik Jones631.9617.0019.1705.1700.83
Kyle Busch630.9218.5018.6704.6711.67
Chris Buescher629.5818.8321.8302.3301.00
Joey Logano628.4614.5005.8303.3323.83
Aric Almirola628.4212.8307.6701.8306.00
Ricky Stenhouse Jr628.2115.5009.6703.1715.83
Brennan Poole226.1325.5030.5005.0000.50
Chase Elliott624.1719.3312.1704.6715.33
Matt DiBenedetto624.1323.6721.6707.3308.50
Kurt Busch624.0018.5013.8304.3304.00
Tyler Reddick323.5825.0025.6704.6706.33
Austin Dillon623.0420.0015.3303.5007.83
Christopher Bell222.0025.0026.0003.0002.00
Timmy Hill221.2530.0035.0004.5000.00
Bubba Wallace620.6724.1722.0005.8300.33
Joey Gase420.5030.7537.2501.5000.00
Alex Bowman617.5417.0005.3302.5003.83
William Byron616.2521.3310.6702.8311.33
Kevin Harvick613.4220.8309.3302.3302.33
Jimmie Johnson613.3321.8311.0003.5001.00
Clint Bowyer612.6722.8312.0003.3302.67
Brad Keselowski610.2524.0010.5002.3310.33
Daniel Suarez510.0029.0022.0004.0000.00
Quin Houff308.5034.3333.0000.3300.00
Cole Custer206.0029.5020.0002.0000.00
Martin Truex Jr605.3826.5011.6704.1702.50
Matt Kenseth1-22.0040.0013.0002.0000.00

The Best Superspeedway Racers in 2020

Driver# RacesAvg. DraftKings PointsAvg. FinishAvg. StartAvg. Fast LapsAvg. Laps Led
Ryan Blaney271.3801.5019.5002.0033.50
Denny Hamlin267.3802.5011.5006.5048.50
Brendan Gaughan257.7514.0039.0005.5000.00
Chris Buescher257.2504.5020.0003.5002.00
Corey Lajoie252.1312.0030.5003.0000.50
John H. Nemechek251.0009.5022.5007.0000.00
Michael McDowell243.6316.0026.0011.0000.50
Erik Jones239.2511.5016.0004.5000.00
Kevin Harvick237.7507.5007.5002.0001.00
Ricky Stenhouse Jr237.3811.0010.5002.5014.50
Bubba Wallace235.6314.5017.5006.0000.50
Ty Dillon235.2521.0028.5009.5000.00
Ryan Preece234.1322.0031.0005.5001.50
Clint Bowyer233.7515.5019.5002.5000.00
Aric Almirola230.2512.5010.0001.0003.00
Ryan Newman228.2516.0010.5007.5008.00
Daniel Suarez127.0028.0037.0004.0000.00
Brennan Poole226.1325.5030.5005.0000.50
Christopher Bell222.0025.0026.0003.0002.00
Matt DiBenedetto221.8822.5019.5006.5000.50
Timmy Hill221.2530.0035.0004.5000.00
Alex Bowman221.1315.5005.0002.5007.50
Joey Gase221.0030.0036.5001.0000.00
Tyler Reddick220.1324.0019.0005.5009.50
Kurt Busch216.2521.0012.5003.5000.00
Ross Chastain116.0025.0020.0004.0000.00
Chase Elliott213.2527.5018.0006.0013.00
Joey Logano212.8821.5006.0002.0019.50
Quin Houff211.7533.0033.5000.5000.00
Austin Dillon210.2525.5015.0004.5000.00
William Byron206.8825.5011.5002.0005.50
Cole Custer206.0029.5020.0002.0000.00
JJ Yeley106.0036.0034.0000.0000.00
Jimmie Johnson203.0024.0005.0003.0002.00
Brad Keselowski200.7527.5007.5001.0015.00
Martin Truex Jr2-00.2528.0008.0006.5002.00
Kyle Busch2-02.1333.0015.5004.0009.50
Matt Kenseth1-22.0040.0013.0002.0000.00

DraftKings Strategy for Daytona Saturday Night

Fantasy NASCAR 2018 Big One Daytona Wreck
Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Avoid that.

Seriously, that’s your hope with your DraftKings lineup, is to avoid the big wreck(s) on Saturday night. If you play DFS Golf, you know how important it is for all 6 of your golfers to make the cut. It’s the same thing here with DFS NASCAR at Daytona: you want all six of your drivers running at the end.

Now, one thing I constantly preach at these tracks is that it’s the strategy at these tracks, not necessarily the drivers. I’m not kidding. To me, pretty much every driver in the field is in play on Saturday night, although I wouldn’t recommend touching the top 5 starters. Why? Well, look at it this way: the pole sitter finishing 5th scores 34 FPTS, the same amount as the guy who finished 20th but starts back in 30th.

Take a look at this chart below (click to make it bigger). It shows each drivers base DraftKings scored by simply taking into account their starting position (left column) and finishing position (top row). If your six drivers average 50 FPTS each on Saturday night, you’re probably going to have a great lineup. I set the midpoint on the conditional formatting here at 40. As you can see, it rarely pays off to take the guys starting up front!

Now you may be asking, “yeah but what about dominator points?” Those definitely come in to play, but as far as fastest laps go, they are spread out and unpredictable. This year in the two superspeedway races, Michael McDowell leads the way with 11 fastest laps per race, while Ty Dillon is 2nd-best with 9.5 per race.

Lineup Construction: I follow a very basic rule of thumb for constructing lineups at Daytona and Talladega, and it is solely determined off of starting spot. I’ll make my choices of drivers within those ranges by somewhat looking at their past results, but overall this race is so random that anybody is on the table. So here’s my general rule:

  • 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: two or three drivers

Let’s just look at the Daytona 500 race this year: the six highest-scoring drivers in DraftKings started 21st or worse. Chris Buescher was next and he started 19th, and you have to go all the way down to the 12th-highest scoring driver in that race (Kevin Harvick) until you get to someone who started better than 19th. He started 10th that day.

At Talladega, it was much of the same: Ryan Blaney was the highest-scoring driver (he started 12th) and then the next three started 20th or worse. You have to go down to Denny Hamlin (who started 2nd and finished 4th), the 10th-highest scoring driver in that race, until you get someone who breaks the mold (that’s the sparingly part). Nine of the eleven highest-scoring drivers in that race started 15th or worse.

“Fading the Favorites” Strategy

Chase Elliott leading Martin Truex, Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the 2020 Coca-Cola 600
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

I’m a big fan of zigging while others zag at superspeedway tracks, because let’s be honest: these races are a crapshoot. So a strategy I love is “fading the favorites” at Daytona and Talladega. And when I say “favorites” right now, I’m not talking about the actual favorites to win the race. I’m talking about the “chalk” DraftKings picks that will likely garner 40% or higher ownership in GPPs/tournaments, and even higher in 50/50s and double-ups. Guys like Chase Elliott ($11,000), Brendan Gaughan ($8,600), and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,300).

In Single Entry contests I like fading one or two “chalk” picks like this entirely, and in contests where I enter 20 or 150 lineups, I like going severely underweight on them. Why? Because wrecks happen. Nothing is guaranteed at superspeedways, and literally one bad move from a driver can wipe out a ton of lineups. Let’s say Ricky Stenhouse goes 60% owned on Saturday night and ends up wrecking halfway through the race. Let’s say he finishes 35th, so he ends up with 5 DraftKings FPTS. If you fade Stenhouse, chances are the majority of your lineups (if constructed right) will outscore those 60% of the total contest entries. You should make money.

Let’s apply the same situation for Chase Elliott, who should have be on a significant amount of lineups on Saturday night since he “qualified” back in 27th. Him, along with Stenhouse and Gaughan, are going to be the “easy buttons” for a lot of novice players–they’re big names that everyone is talking about, and they look like great plays for this race due to place differential. But again, I’d rather on the other side and bank on carnage. You are much more likely to be profitable in the long run by doing this because of the differentiation you’re forcing yourself to have from the crowd. This isn’t like Dover last weekend, where even if Kevin Harvick wrecked on the final lap, his dominator points would’ve still probably had him in the winning lineup. Once wreck or mechanical issue or blown engine can wipe out a huge chunk of lineups Saturday night.

Also, we’ll get into why I really like being underweight on some drivers when I get my Slate breakdown post up (probably Friday), but just looking at Chase Elliott, keep this in mind: he’s never finished better than 14th at Daytona, and six of his nine points-paying starts here have ended in finishes of 22nd or worse. He does have a badass paint scheme this weekend, though.

GPP / Tournament Picks I Love for the Coke Zero Sugar 400

Chris Buescher arms crossed on pit road at Charlotte
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Bubba Wallace ($6,600) – There are several great GPP/tournament options starting in the high-20s, and at first I was going to write up Ryan Newman ($6,500) here, but with how high he is showing in my Projections for Saturday night, I decided to put Bubba Wallace in this place. Bubba is one of the most consistent superspeedway drivers in the series. First, let’s look at Talladega: five starts, an average finish of 22.4, and three results of 19th or better. Not bad. Now let’s look at Daytona: six starts, an average finish of 16.5, and only one result worse than 15th. That’s significant. Bubba finished 2nd in the 2018 Daytona 500 and if he can pull off another top 5 here on Saturday night, he’s going to win people a lot of money. Starting 21st should keep Wallace’s ownership relatively low in DraftKings.

Chris Buescher ($6,000) – The Fords still have an advantage when it comes to superspeedway tracks, and we all know what kind of performances Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. put up in this #17 entry from Roush-Fenway Racing over the years. This season, with Chris Buescher behind the wheel, the #17 Ford is averaging a finish of 4.5 on this track type and the 4th-most DraftKings FPTS per race (57.3). Obviously this is a small sample size, at just two races, but it’s not like Buescher hasn’t shown promise here at Daytona before; in both 2018 races, Chris finished 5th for JTG Daugherty Racing at this track, and he also has a 10th-place finish on his resume in 2017. Over the past six points-paying races here, Buescher has an average finish of 12.8 and only one result worse than 17th. He will start from 17th on Saturday night, which should keep his ownership pretty low, and that’s why I love Buescher in Single Entry contests as well as being overweight in GPPs/tournaments.

Corey LaJoie ($5,300) – I’m genuinely confused about why Corey LaJoie keeps getting overlooked by the player pool in DraftKings when we come to a superspeedway track. He was the Fantasy NASCAR MVP at this track type in 2019 and still went barely over 20% owned in the big GPP for the Daytona 500 this year despite starting 36th. He was even lower owned at Talladega, although to be fair he did start 25th. But still, there’s plenty of room to move up there. Anyway, if I die on this LaJoie hill this week, that’s fine because he’s made me plenty of money over the last two years here. Looking at the last six superspeedway races, Corey has the most DraftKings FPTS per race (55.3) and that’s nearly ten more than the next guy on the list, Denny Hamlin, who is average 45.8 per race. LaJoie is averaging a finish of 11.0 on this track type over the last year and a half and hasn’t ended up worse than 18th over that span. He also has four top 11 finishes in those six races.

Cash Core Drivers I Love for the Coke Zero Sugar 400

Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. racing at Talladega 2020
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images

Brendan Gaughan ($8,600) – Strategy-wise, I think it’s best to go underweight on Brendan Gaughan in GPPs/tournaments, but for 50/50s and double-ups, he’s a no-brainer pick. Gaughan starts dead last on Saturday night, which means it is impossible for him to score negative FPTS in DraftKings. Additionally, he’s actually pretty good in these races. Starting in 2017, Gaughan took the wheel for Beard Motorsports in superspeedway races, and that’s pretty much it. He’s finished 28th or better in all seven starts here at Daytona since then, including four finishes of 12th or better. Brendan will hang out in the back for most of the race on Saturday night, avoid the carnage, and rack up the DraftKings FPTS in the end.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,300) – Thanks to his early exit in the Dover race last Sunday, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. will roll off the grid from 31st here at Daytona on Saturday night. In other words, one of the best superspeedway drivers in the field has the most place differential potential. For cash lineups, Stenhouse is a no-brainer. He’s led 10 or more laps in five of the last six points-paying races here at Daytona, and also has top 20 finishes in four of them. His other results were 24th and 29th. Looking over at Talladega, Stenhouse came home 2nd in that race this season. He’s a super aggressive driver and could very easily end up wrecking on Saturday night but, at the same time, Stenhouse has a DNF rate of 12.5% here in 16 career starts, which is better than almost everyone in the field with more than a couple of starts. Currently Alex Bowman has not had a single DNF in 8 career starts, while Denny Hamlin is at 3 in 29 starts (10.34%) and Casey Mears sits at 3 in 26 starts (11.54%). That’s the kind of reliability you want out of a cash lineup pick.

Michael McDowell ($6,900) – I debated for quite a while in mention Ty Dillon ($6,100) this spot, but ultimately landed on Michael McDowell. They’re both solid options but I give a slight not to McDowell, plus he’s in a Ford, which have a slight power advantage. The #34 Ford will roll off the grid from 26th on Saturday night, which ironically is where McDowell started in this year’s Daytona 500 as well. He ended up 14th in that race and scored 47.75 DraftKings FPTS (10th-most). That makes it eight top 15 finishes for McDowell in his last nine Daytona points-paying starts, and since joining Front Row Motorsports he’s only finished worse than 14th once in five races. McDowell also has just one finish worse than 18th on superspeedways overall over the last six races. Ty Dillon is the same. Again, they’re both solid cash options.

Daytona Saturday Night 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 six different ranking systems. Laps led and fastest laps are not included for the Daytona and Talladega races because they’re both so unpredictable. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverStarting PositionDraftKings SalaryAvg Proj FPTSAvg. Projected FinishDollar Per FPT
Ricky Stenhouse Jr31$8,30058.509.7$142
Chase Elliott27$11,00047.511.5$232
Denny Hamlin10$10,40044.804.3$232
Ryan Newman22$6,50041.213.5$158
Ryan Blaney9$10,00040.506.8$247
Ty Dillon29$6,10038.718.5$158
Brendan Gaughan40$8,60038.524.0$223
Joey Logano3$9,40035.805.5$262
Jimmie Johnson7$7,40034.308.8$216
Aric Almirola5$8,10033.808.0$239
Corey Lajoie25$5,30033.820.7$157
Kyle Busch11$10,20033.710.3$303
Erik Jones20$9,80032.815.8$298
Michael McDowell26$6,90032.219.3$215
Chris Buescher17$6,00032.015.5$188
Kevin Harvick1$9,20031.807.2$289
Clint Bowyer14$7,60029.214.7$261
Ross Chastain36$7,10029.025.8$245
Alex Bowman8$7,90028.712.0$276
Ryan Preece28$5,80028.723.0$202
Christopher Bell23$7,50028.220.0$266
Matt DiBenedetto15$7,00028.215.7$249
John H. Nemechek24$6,80027.220.5$250
Kurt Busch13$8,40026.715.2$315
Bubba Wallace21$6,60023.822.5$277
JJ Yeley33$4,90023.028.5$213
Austin Dillon12$9,00022.017.7$409
Brad Keselowski4$9,60021.812.7$440
Tyler Reddick18$6,40021.521.2$298
Josh Bilicki39$5,20021.332.5$244
Joey Gase37$5,50020.831.7$264
Timmy Hill35$4,70020.530.5$229
James Davison38$5,00019.532.8$256
Brennan Poole32$4,60019.529.7$236
William Byron6$7,80019.016.2$411
Matt Kenseth19$6,30018.722.5$338
Daniel Suarez30$5,60018.528.8$303
Quin Houff34$4,50018.331.2$245
Cole Custer16$7,20018.221.5$396
Martin Truex Jr2$8,80013.316.3$660
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.