It’s Daytona weekend… again! The last time we were here was two weeks ago for the Road Course race. Many people–myself included–expected carnage in that race, and we got an event that was super tame. This time, we’re racing the oval superspeedway, and I can almost guarantee we’ll have carnage. Just looking at this year’s Daytona 500, only 17 cars finished on the lead lap, and honestly that’s about the average. And if you look back at 2018, there were just 10 cars on the lead lap in that Daytona 500, and just 13 on the lead lap in the July race that year.
You have to go back to the 2016 Daytona 500 for the last time more than half of the field finished on the lead lap at this track.
Now, why is this important? Because this is why strategy when building your lineups is so important in races at Daytona and Talladega. When a wreck happens here, it can easily take out 10-20 cars depending on where it starts. And as far as dominator points go, typically the most fastest laps one driver will have is around 10. Just looking back at this year’s Daytona 500, there were 20 drivers that had between four and eleven fastest laps. In other words, they are so spread out, they shouldn’t really be a focus–plus this race is only scheduled for 160 laps, so it’s not like there will be a ton of them.
Click here to read my Projections and Strategy article. Seriously. Each week, that article plus my Slate Breakdown (what you’re reading now) are basically one big write-up but it’s broken down into two because a singular version would be so long.
Back to Strategy. I detailed what my method of strategy when building lineups is when we race at Daytona or Talladega. Really, in my eyes, the key is to have a top 3 finisher (preferably the winner) and then fill out the rest of the lineup with place differential and finishing position. That’s why I typically limit my lineups to one driver starting in the top 12, and at a maximum of two. When you pick a driver starting that high in DraftKings at a track like Daytona, you basically need him to finish top 5 to work out. Look at it this way: a driver starting 10th and finishing 8th would score 36 base FPTS. The driver starting 35th would outscore him by just finishing 21st. That’s how important place differential is here at Daytona.
Now, Saturday night there are basically two ways that the race can play out: we’re either going to have a tame race, or we’re going to have a typical Daytona race and 25-50% of the field is going to wreck out. Not joking. For people that are just getting into NASCAR DFS, that is what usually happens at Daytona. Your hope is that all six of your drivers avoid the carnage.
If we have a tame race, then going with a lineup that has an average starting position higher up is the right play. I won’t deny that; Daytona can be a great speed equalizer, but the top teams are still the fastest here. If you’re thinking a tame race happens, then there’s nothing wrong with putting together lineups with everyone starting in the top 25 or so (with probably Stenhouse and/or Gaughan in there). But if you’re like me, and you know that chances are there’s going to be at least one big wreck on Saturday night, I think my “rule of thumb” lineup construction (again, see my Projections post for that) is the best method. It’s certainly been the one that’s won me thousands of dollars in DraftKings at these tracks.
As far as which specific drivers to take, this is where it gets fun. There are obviously some that are simply better superspeedway racers than others, but they can wreck out. In my mind, pretty much any driver is on the board this weekend except for the top 5 starters (or so). Literally anybody. We’ll go through all 40 of them here soon and how they’ve done on superspeedways. And actually another aspect of strategy here is picking the drivers that others probably aren’t. I touched on this in my Projections article, but again: we know that Stenhouse and Gaughan are going to grab a significant owner percentage (probably 50%, if not more). Also Chase Elliott.
But let me tell you this: if Brendan Gaughan finished 20th, he will score 44 FPTS on Saturday night. If, for example, Josh Bilicki does the same thing, he will score 43 FPTS. Bilicki will probably garner about 20% of the ownership that Gaughan does on Saturday night. So in Single Entry contests, it makes more sense strategy-wise to strategically pivot off of those popular picks and go with the overlooked drivers. Like I said, all it takes is one wreck to wipe out a significant amount of lineups at this track…
One final reminder: don’t be afraid to leave a significant portion of your salary cap on the table this week!
Again, I would highly recommend checking out my DraftKings Projections article for this race in addition to this driver-by-driver breakdown. Click here to get to the Projections article.
Driver-by-Driver Breakdown for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Dover
- Kevin Harvick ($9,200) – 31.8 projected FPTS
– He won’t be on any of my lineups. Harvick is a two-time Daytona winner and ranks 5th-best in average finish here (17.5) among drivers with more than two starts, but refer back to my chart in the Projections post: even a 5th-place finish would be just 35 base DraftKings FPTS for Harvick. Even worse, he’s unlikely to pick up many dominator points, as Harvick’s game plan here is usually to hang out in the back for most of the race.
- Martin Truex, Jr. ($8,800) – 13.3 projected FPTS
– Martin Truex, Jr. isn’t good at superspeedways. In 30 career starts here at Daytona, he just just TWO top 5s. That’s it. I’d put Harvick on a lineup Saturday night well before I’d put Truex on one, and I already said Harvick won’t be on any of mine.
- Joey Logano ($9,400) – 35.8 projected FPTS
– Here’s where it gets interesting. Joey Logano had the best average running position in the Daytona 500 this year, and also ranked 1st in that category at Talladega. He’s also finished 4th or 6th in five of the last nine races here. You have to think Logano is the favorite to lead the most laps on Saturday night. Is that worth it in DraftKings, though, since he starts 3rd? If so, you better hope Joey wins.
- Brad Keselowski ($9,600) – 21.8 projected FPTS
– Brad Keselowski gave us a dominating performance here at Daytona back in 2016, and that combined with the fact that he’s really good at Talladega has made everyone say that BK is a great superspeedway racer. In the seven Daytona races since then, his best finish is 12th and he’s finished 27th or worse in the other six. I’m willing to roll the dice once or twice with Logano on Saturday night, but not Keselowski.
- Aric Almirola ($8,100) – 33.8 projected FPTS
– I do think Aric Almirola can walk away with a good finish here on Saturday night. Will I have any of him in my DraftKings lineups? It’s unlikely. Almirola won here at Daytona back in 2014 but that’s one of just two top 5s in 17 career starts. Again, it’s just not worth the risk to me.
- William Byron ($7,800) – 19.0 projected FPTS
– William Byron finished 2nd in this race last year and he’s going to need to do it again if he wants to make the optimal lineup in DraftKings. His 6th-place starting spot and the fact that he’s finished 21st or worse in all but one Cup Series start here at Daytona is enough for me to fade him.
- Jimmie Johnson ($7,400) – 34.3 projected FPTS
– My algorithm really likes Jimmie Johnson this weekend, and this is about the range in the starting lineup where I start adding one or two drivers. Johnson finished 3rd in this race last year and has six top 5s in his last 15 tries at Daytona. I wouldn’t recommend going super heavy on him this weekend but, at the same time, with a Playoff spot on the line, I’m not about to bet against this guy.
- Alex Bowman ($7,900) – 28.7 projected FPTS
– Bowman is actually pretty solid at Daytona, but he’s going to need a career night here to make it worth it in DraftKings. Over his eight career starts here, Alex has finished 13th or better three times, and also has a 17th-place finish in there as well. Unfortunately, his best finish so far is 10th. I personally won’t have much of Bowman in DraftKings this weekend.
- Ryan Blaney ($10,000) – 40.5 projected FPTS
– Most of my lineups are going to have one top 10 starter in them, and it’s going to come down to Ryan Blaney or Denny Hamlin. They both have a legitimate shot at winning this race on Saturday. On the superspeedways this year, Blaney finished 2nd at Daytona and won at Talladega. That’s his third top 7 finish here at Daytona in the last seven races. Unfortunately, his other finishes during that span have been 26th or worse. Between the two, I’m leaning Hamlin. Plus, not only does my algorithm really favor Denny, but I also bet on Blaney to win this race, so consider him jinxed. Just warning you (if you know, you know)…
- Denny Hamlin ($10,400) – 44.8 projected FPTS
– Denny is the favorite to win this race, but one thing you have to note is that he hasn’t finished better than 17th in this summer Daytona event since 2015. That’s about the only concerning thing for Hamlin, though. He’s also won two of the last three here and has finished 6th or better in eight of the last thirteen. Additionally, over the last six superspeedway races, only Corey LaJoie has scored more points in DraftKings than Hamlin.
- Kyle Busch ($10,200) – 33.7 projected FPTS
– Rowdy is boom or bust at Daytona. Over the last nine races here, he’s posted three finishes of 3rd or better along with five finishes of 20th or worse. Kyle Busch isn’t going to miss the Playoffs this year but a win would definitely be a boost this team needs (plus it would give him much-needed Playoff points). I actually like being overweight on him this weekend.
- Austin Dillon ($9,000) – 22.0 projected FPTS
– Austin has finished inside the top 10 in seven of his fourteen career starts at Daytona, but has just two in his last seven. One of those was his Daytona 500 win in 2018, though. I really don’t like this starting spot for him as far as DraftKings goes, though, so I probably won’t have any Austin Dillon on Saturday.
- Kurt Busch ($8,400) – 26.7 projected FPTS
– I likely won’t have much, if any, Kurt Busch on Saturday eighter. Five of his last six Daytona starts have ended with him 25th or worse, as well as ten of the last sixteen. At this starting spot, it’ll take a top 5 effort or so for Kurt Busch to pay off.
- Clint Bowyer ($7,600) – 29.2 projected FPTS
– I don’t hate rolling the dice with Clint Bowyer this weekend, but nothing crazy. He’s posted 13 top 10 finishes in his 29 career points-paying starts here at Daytona, including a 6th-place effort in this year’s Daytona 500.
- Matt DiBenedetto ($7,000) – 28.2 projected FPTS
– Matt DiBenedetto is fighting for his Playoff life this weekend, which means he’s likely to get more aggressive. I typically don’t like overly-aggressive drivers at Daytona, but DiBenedetto has ended up 13th or better in four of his last seven starts here, three of which were also top 10s. The talent is there for Matt to finish top 10 on Saturday night but I likely won’t have much of him in my lineups.
- Cole Custer ($7,200) – 18.2 projected FPTS
– Custer likely won’t be on too many people’s radars this weekend since he finished 37th at Daytona and 22nd at Talladega. But with the way this #41 team is running, plus the fact that he’s got Ford power, there’s potential here. It’s just risky, obviously. For what it’s worth, Custer ranked 9th-best in average running position at Talladega.
- Chris Buescher ($6,000) – 32.0 projected FPTS
– I wrote up Chris Buescher as a GPP/tournament option in my Projections post. Click here to read that. Also wanted to add that buescher ranked 6th in average running position in this year’s Daytona 500 and 13th in that category at Talladega.
- Tyler Reddick ($6,400) – 21.5 projected FPTS
– Reddick has two Cup starts under his belt and has wrecked in both of them, posting finishes of 27th and 28th. At Talladega this year, he led 19 laps and finished 20th. He’s definitely a sneaky play on Saturday night, and will likely be low-owned since he starts 18th.
- Matt Kenseth ($6,300) – 18.7 projected FPTS
– You can roll the dice here if you’d like, but just know that over his last ten starts at Daytona, Matt Kenseth as just one finish better than 14th, and that was back in 2014. In eight of those ten races he’s finished 20th or worse.
- Erik Jones ($9,800) – 32.8 projected FPTS
– I go heavy on Jones most weeks, and with him starting 20th on Saturday night, the same thing will probably happen. EJ won this race back in 2018, and don’t forget he won the Busch Clash this year when teammate Denny Hamlin pushed his mangled car to the win. Overall, Erik has three finishes of 9th or better in the last six Daytona races, and only one finish worse than 23rd during that span. For what it’s worth, Jones finished 5th at Talladega this year.
- Bubba Wallace ($6,600) – 23.8 projected FPTS
– I like the next guy better, but if you want to pivot off of Ryan Newman here, Bubba Wallace is a great option. He’s finished 15th or better in five of his six career starts here at Daytona, and even had a 2nd-place finish in the 2018 Daytona 500. At Talladega, Bubba walked away with a career-best 14th there this season. I wrote up Bubba Wallace as a GPP/tournament option in my Projections post. Click here to read that.
- Ryan Newman ($6,500) – 41.2 projected FPTS
– I’m interested to see what Newman’s ownership percentage is this weekend. The guy hasn’t finished worse than 14th here since the 2017 season, and five of his last six Daytona starts have ended in top 10s. I actually wrote up Newman in my Slingshot article this week. Click here to read that. Also, another thing I like about Newman is that he has 15 fastest laps in the two superspeedway races this year. Only two drivers have more.
- Christopher Bell ($7,500) – 28.2 projected FPTS
– To me, Bell is a dark horse pick on Saturday night. We don’t have much data to go off of him for in the Cup Series, but he starts mid-20s and has Joe Gibbs Racing alliance power to work with. It’s worth noting that Bell’s average running position in both superspeedway races this season was in the teens.
- John Hunter Nemechek ($6,800) – 27.2 projected FPTS
Here’s a sleeper for you. If I like Michael McDowell so much this week, I have to like his teammate, too. Additionally, John Hunter has an average finish of 9.5 in the two superspeedway races this year, and he’s also posted 14 total fastest laps in those events–4th-most in the series. Nemechek is averaging 51 DraftKings FPTS per race on superspeedways this season and finished 11th in the Daytona 500 this year.
- Corey LaJoie ($5,300) – 33.8 projected FPTS
– I wrote up Corey LaJoie as a GPP/tournament option in my Projections post. Click here to read that.
- Michael McDowell ($6,900) – 32.2 projected FPTS
– I wrote up Michael McDowell as a cash game option in my Projections post. Click here to read that. I like him in every type of contest, though. Also worth noting: McDowell has the most fastest laps (22) in the two superspeedway races this season.
- Chase Elliott ($11,000) – 47.5 projected FPTS
– I can’t argue with you about picking Chase on Saturday night, but in my Projections article I mentioned I don’t mind going against that strategy at all, especially in Single Entry contests. The place differential potential is there but it really bugs me that Chase has never finished better than 14th in a points-paying race here.
- Ryan Preece ($5,800) – 28.7 projected FPTS
– Another good pick in my book. Preece has had more speed than his finishes show this season, and looking at the last six superspeedway races, he ranks 8th in terms of DraftKings points scored (39.6 per race). At Daytona, Preece has finished 8th, 32nd, and 29th, and at Talladega he’s came home 3rd, 18th, and 15th. He’s just got to avoid the wreck(s) on Saturday, which, admittedly, Preece has had a hard time doing this year.
- Ty Dillon ($6,100) – 38.7 projected FPTS
– Ty was going to be one of my cash driver picks in my Projections article, but I decided to go with McDowell instead. Still, Dillon has an average finish of 13.2 over the last six superspeedway races and is averaging 44.2 DraftKings FPTS per race over that span (4th-best in the series). At Daytona, he’s finished 6th or better in three of the last four races. I’ll have plenty of Ty Dillon on Saturday night.
- Daniel Suarez ($5,600) – 18.5 projected FPTS
– Suarez should have a strong Toyota to work with on Saturday night but he’s been awful at Daytona throughout his career, even in top equipment; five of his six points-paying starts here have ended in finishes of 29th or worse. If you look at it just from a strategy perspective, Suarez should be quite low-owned, and he has a pretty good car since Gaunt Brothers has the alliance with Gibbs. For what it’s worth, Parker Kligerman had top 15s in two of the four superspeedway races in this car last season…
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,300) – 58.5 projected FPTS
– I wrote up Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. as a cash game option in my Projections post. Click here to read that.
- Brennan Poole ($4,600) – 19.5 projected FPTS
– Of the back marker cars, Poole is starting the highest, so he’ll likely be the lowest owned. So I like the strategy in playing him. Additionally, the #15 Chevrolet is probably the strongest among the back markers. Poole finished 16th in the Daytona 500 earlier this year.
- JJ Yeley ($4,900) – 23.0 projected FPTS
– Yeley was about to be one of my GPP/tournament play write-ups for Saturday night, but then I noticed that Rick Ware Racing is trotting out a Chevrolet for Saturday instead of the typical Ford. Since Yeley has taken over this car, he’s consistently been the top of the back markers, and I really like that about it, but the switching to a Chevrolet kind of scares me a little bit. This #27 car was also a Chevrolet in the Duel race earlier this year as well as the Daytona 500. Reed Sorenson finished 18th and 31st in those events, respectively. As far as Yeley goes, he’s finished 18th or better in four of his last six starts here at Daytona, so I like that about him too…
- Quin Houff ($4,500) – 18.3 projected FPTS
– You can’t really trust Houff, especially with finishes of 39th and 27th in the two superspeedway races this year, but Landon Cassill did finish 24th, 34th, 11th, and 14th in the four superspeedway races last season while driving this #00 car. If there’s mass chaos on Saturday night and Quin misses it, he’ll be a good strategy play since he’ll likely be one of the lowest-owned drivers on the slate.
- Timmy Hill ($4,700) – 20.5 projected FPTS
– Honestly, this #66 Toyota is so slow, even with wrecks it’s hard to see Timmy Hill putting up a great DraftKings score on Saturday night. This MBM Motorsports team is rolling out a 2018 body and will likely be so slow that they’ll get lapped during green flag runs. I’m all for taking chances with drivers down here but Timmy Hill is at the bottom of my list.
- Ross Chastain ($7,100) – 29.0 projected FPTS
– We all know how Justin Haley raced this #77 Chevrolet to a win here at Daytona last year, but that was due to a lot of luck and a rain shower. Still, this car should have decent speed on Saturday night. Chastain raced it to a 25th-place finish in this year’s Daytona 500, and BJ McLeod came home 31st in it at Talladega. As far as Chastain’s record here at Daytona specifically, he’s also finished 10th and 21st here while driving for Premium Motorsports.
- Joey Gase ($5,500) – 20.8 projected FPTS
– Gase is back in the #53 Ford this weekend, which is noteworthy because this car has been a Chevy for most of the year. At Daytona, Gase actually has a decent record, with finishes between 23rd and 27th in his four career starts here.
- James Davison ($5,000) – 19.5 projected FPTS
– Davison is in the #51 car this weekend and has never raced at a superspeedway in the Cup Series before. Also, this team has taken a major downturn in speed as of late, even slower than their typically slow self. In this year’s Daytona 500, Joey Gase raced the #51 to a 23rd-place finish, but was also six laps down. He was also in a Chevy.
- Josh Bilicki ($5,200) – 21.3 projected FPTS
– Like with Timmy Hill, I question whether or not Josh Bilicki will even be able to run with the pack on Saturday night. This #7 Chevrolet is an older car (2019) and has been excessively slow in every other race it’s been in this year. Also, Bilicki has never raced at a superspeedway in the Cup Series before.
- Brendan Gaughan ($8,600) – 38.5 projected FPTS
– I wrote up Brendan Gaughan as a cash game option in my Projections post. Click here to read that. He’s the safest driver to pick on the slate, and he’ll likely be the highest-owned in GPPs/tournaments. I like fading him in Single Entry or 3-Entry-Max contests, and going underweight in GPPs/tournaments.