It’s finally time to get the 2020 NASCAR Fantasy season started!
The Daytona 500 is always an interesting race to kick off the year with any type of fantasy contest, and the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest is no exception. If this is your first time playing this game, please make sure you have read and understand the scoring (click here). Place differential is very important with this game, and drivers do score negative points for negative place differential. It is actually entirely possible for your entire fantasy team to score a total of negative points!
If you haven’t signed up for the Slingshot contest for the 2020 season, click here to do so.
Now, when it comes to where drivers are scored from, it goes from their official starting position. Click here for the starting lineup for the 2020 Daytona 500. Please note that Ryan Blaney will go to the rear on Sunday because they’re racing their backup car, but he will still be scored from his original starting spot (27th). That will be the case for any other driver that goes to his backup car as well.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for the Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin ($11,900) – If you have followed me for any length of time on Twitter (click here if you don’t and hit that follow button) you know that I’m not a Denny Hamlin fan in the slightest. And he’s probably not that much of a fan of me either, as he has me blocked. But still, I give credit where credit is due, and Denny Hamlin is probably the best racer at Daytona right now. And so far during the 2020 Speedweeks, he absolutely is. Hamlin was by far and away the most impressive driver in both the Clash and his Duel race, and even though he was probably the only one really trying, it was still noticed. In the Daytona 500, Hamlin’s starting position is 21st, and as long as he doesn’t wreck out, he should finish much higher than that. Over the last six Daytona 500s, Hamlin has two wins and five top 5s. You can’t beat that.
Kyle Busch ($11,700) – For some reason, Kyle Busch never winning the Daytona 500 was one that the media took and ran with during Speedweeks this year, so wouldn’t it be fitting if the 2019 Cup Series Champion finally crossed that win off his list? I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but I do think Rowdy will have a good race here on Sunday. Now, Kyle’s record at Daytona is far from great, but the thing about these superspeedways is that good and bad finishes tend to come in streaks; in other words, it’s not uncommon for a driver to have a couple years of bad runs and then suddenly, like a light switch, have a couple years of good runs. Last season, Kyle Busch had an average finish of 11.3 at Daytona and Talladega, which was good enough for 5th-best in the series. He starts 28th this weekend, which gives Rowdy great upside for positive place differential points.
Erik Jones ($10,600) – Yep, I’m just going to roll with the Gibbs train this week. Like I said, working on drafting together during the Daytona 500 practices could very well pay dividends for these guys on Sunday, and while Erik Jones starts a little higher than I’d typically like in a superspeedway race–for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest anyway–that high starting position should keep his ownership percentage relatively low, I like when it comes to strategy. Jones won here at Daytona back in the summer of 2018 and has finished 9th or better in three of his last five starts here in points-paying races. He also won the Clash last weekend.
Ryan Preece ($6,900) – You can’t go wrong with the driver priced at $6,900 this week (ha, nice). But seriously, Ryan Preece is a good superspeedway racer, and now he has one of the best Daytona racers in the series as a teammate in Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. In last year’s Daytona 500, Preece came home 8th after starting back in 21st, and although he had a disappointing 32nd-place finish in the Summer Daytona race, he ended up 3rd and 18th in the two Talladega races. That translated to a 15.3 average finish on the superspeedways in 2019 for Preece, which was tied for 7th-best in the series. I’m not a big fan of the Chevrolets in race conditions this weekend, but I don’t mind taking them if they’re starting outside of the top 20 because it’s not like we won’t have any finishing up front.
Corey LaJoie ($6,100) – The #32 Ford and Corey LaJoie looked absolutely awful on Thursday night in the second Duel race, but that really shouldn’t have been too surprising because this team never takes that race very seriously. This also means LaJoie likely becomes a chalk pick on Sunday afternoon since he’s starting back in 36th in addition to the fact that he was one of the best fantasy picks on the superspeedways last year. Yes, you read that correctly. Corey LaJoie crushed everyone at Daytona and Talladega in 2019, in major part due to his average place differential of +22.3 spots per race (click here for more stats). LaJoie is what I call a survivor at these superspeedway tracks, which often translates to a good score in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. He’ll probably be highly owned, though, so if you want to pivot to another solid choice, my next favorite guy in this spot would be Michael McDowell ($7,500), who starts 26th.