Let’s call this the calm before the storm.

The two Daytona Duel races are on Thursday night, and they really only have one purpose: to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500. The “open” drivers will be trying to race their way in, while other drivers will be trying to get the best starting spot they can for The Great American Race… maybe. It’s not uncommon to see drivers bow out of these Duel races and not go 100% in an effort to preserve their car for Sunday. Also, some drivers don’t mind starting too far back.

But no matter what, we have two more races before the big one this weekend, so it’s time for the algorithm to do its job. Let’s get to the predicted finishing order of each Duel race.

How the algorithm works: There are quite a few statistics that go into the Power Index formula, including recent performance both overall and at the Daytona Road course specifically, similar track performance, projected strength of the car, practice speeds (when applicable), starting position, and a few other variables.

Daytona Duel #1 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order

RankDriverPower
Index
1.Hamlin, Denny34.86
2.Bowman, Alex33.15
3.Logano, Joey29.49
4.DiBenedetto, Matt27.40
5.Almirola, Aric26.25
6.Bell, Christopher22.70
7.Jones, Erik21.85
8.Newman, Ryan19.34
9.Dillon, Ty17.97
10.Reddick, Tyler16.58
11.Larson, Kyle15.10
12.Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky13.03
13.Custer, Cole08.46
14.McDowell, Michael07.72
15.Cindric, Austin03.11
16.Preece, Ryan00.36
17.McMurray, Jamie-10.00
18.Suarez, Daniel-15.15
19.Ware, Cody-22.30
20.Bilicki, Josh-26.48
21.Houff, Quin-28.72
22.Hill, Timmy-30.02

Daytona Duel #2 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order

RankDriverPower
Index
1.Blaney, Ryan36.25
2.Byron, William34.44
3.Elliott, Chase32.85
4.Truex, Jr., Martin26.65
5.Busch, Kyle26.35
6.Keselowski, Brad22.46
7.Dillon, Austin22.45
8.Harvick, Kevin19.82
9.Busch, Kurt15.47
10.Buescher, Chris11.04
11.Wallace, Bubba-05.45
12.Briscoe, Chase-08.67
13.Chastain, Ross-10.21
14.Alfredo, Anthony-18.07
15.Ragan, David-20.10
16.Grala, Kaz-22.43
17.Gragson, Noah-23.24
18.LaJoie, Corey-26.85
19.Smithley, Garrett-30.37
20.Cope, Derrike-30.73
21.Gase, Joey-31.75
22.McLeod, BJ-33.92
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.