DraftKings NASCAR: Daytona 500
DraftKings NASCAR: Daytona 500

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Daytona 500

Location: Daytona, Fl.
Course: Daytona International Speedway
Format: 2.5-mile oval
Laps: 200

Race Preview

This Sunday's Daytona 500 could be the only race in this new NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series season that resembles the type of racing fans have grown used to seeing in recent years. This weekend's marquee event will be the only one on the 2019 calendar that will run the old rules package, meaning this Sunday will be the last time this year we see the current superspeedway configuration on these cars. The rule changes that will take effect next week in Atlanta are intended to spice up the on-track action by reducing overall horsepower and bunching up the racing. It was first debuted in the Cup series last year at the All-Star race. That said, the three preview events we've seen so far this week at Daytona signal that on Sunday it will be difficult for cars to make passes and the race could generate crashes that affect large swaths of the field. Joey Logano will take the green flag as the defending Cup series champion, while Austin Dillon will work to defend his title of Daytona 500 champion.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

Number of previous races: 143
Winners from pole: 26
Winners from top-5 starters: 74
Winners from top-10 starters: 110
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 10
Fastest race: 183.295 mph

Last 10 Daytona Winners

2018 fall - Erik Jones
2018 spring - Austin Dillon
2017 fall - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2017 spring - Kurt Busch
2016 fall - Brad Keselowski
2016 spring - Denny Hamlin
2015 fall - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015 spring - Joey Logano
2014 fall - Aric Almirola
2014 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Fantasy players were not able to learn much from watching last weekend's Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona. The exhibition race was interrupted and shortened for rain and finished with a crash caused on the final green-flag lap as Jimmie Johnson made a move to overtake leader Paul Menard. Johnson connected with Menard's rear fender, which was a nearly identical incident to what then happened in Thursday's Can-Am Duel between Johnson and Kyle Busch. The difficulty of making passes may have caused Johnson to be aggressive, but neither Menard nor Busch were too forgiving of the champion. Thursday's qualifying races could be the best predictor of what fantasy owners can expect to see on Sunday. Cars in a single-file line running the high groove along the outside wall in a procession, interrupted by pit stops and stage finishes, should be the expectation. Higher temperatures for Sunday afternoon could introduce bigger concerns for handling through a fuel run, which could make passing attempts more frequent, though. With Hendrick Motorsports demonstrating the fastest single-car speeds in qualifying, and two Ford machines winning the qualifying races, it will be Toyota who is hoping to pull off the upset with a win on Sunday.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,600
Joey Logano - $10,400
Kevin Harvick - $10,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Clint Bowyer - $9,900
Chase Elliott - $9,400
Aric Almirola - $9,200
Ryan Blaney - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $8,800
Kurt Busch - $8,700
Jimmie Johnson - $8,500
Erik jones - $8,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Jamie McMurray - $7,500
Paul Menard - $7,400
Daniel Hemric - $6,600
Chris Buescher - $6,300

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $10,200
Aric Almirola - $9,200
Ryan Blaney - $9,000
Erik Jones - $8,200
Ryan Newman - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,300

Kevin Harvick was one of the most dominant drivers in the Cup series last season, but he came up short of the championship in Homestead and crashed out of four of his last five Daytona starts. He started off the racing in Daytona this week with a win to earn a starting spot on the second row for Sunday's race, and with the lack of passing that track position could be a valuable asset as he seeks his third win at Daytona. People would be referring to Aric Almirola as the defending Daytona 500 champion this week if he hadn't been involved in a last-lap crash that sent Austin Dillon to Victory Lane. That was Almirola's first race with Stewart-Haas Racing, and now he has a full year of races under his belt. He is a past Daytona winner and one of the best drivers in the draft. Ryan Blaney has also proven to be a top restrictor-plate driver in his short time in the series. He has two top-10 finishes in his last four Daytona starts and fantasy owners shouldn't forget that he led 118 laps in last year's 500. Daytona's July race was won by Erik Jones. In four Daytona starts he already has the win and one other top-10 finish. Ryan Newman begins his new life with Roush Fenway Racing this season, and the former Daytona 500 winner comes at a nice discount for rosters. With three straight top-10 finishes at the track he is arguably one of the biggest bargains on the board. Rounding off this roster option is Chris Buescher. Do not underestimate his prowess at Daytona. His last three races at the track have produced two top-fives and another top-10, which make him another top fantasy bargain.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,600
Chase Elliott - $9,400
Kurt Busch - $8,700
Paul Menard - $7,400
Bubba Wallace - $7,200
Daniel Hemric - $6,600

This week's slightly higher-risk lineup is packed with potential. Brad Keselowski has yet to win a Daytona 500, but is one of the best drivers on superspeedways. This year's rules changes could help him throughout the season, and Sunday's race might be an opportunity for him to leverage his abilities to get into Victory Lane in the biggest race of the season. Four crashes in the last four Daytona races still haven't knocked him out of the favorite's position for good reason. Backing him up is Chase Elliott, who hasn't found immediate restrictor-plate success, but has been on driver willing to take chances so far this week. Elliott seemed to perfect the single-car pass in Thursday's qualifying race and the things he learned in that race might push him to the front on Sunday. We don't refer to Kurt Busch has the greatest restrictor-plate driver not to have won a restrictor-plate race anymore, and the 2017 Daytona 500 champion will be aiming to start his new career with Chip Ganassi Racing by adding his second 500 win. Paul Menard and Bubba Wallace are two drivers that have also shown they have the potential to race for the win at this track. Menard nearly won the Clash last weekend and has three finishes of sixth or better in the last four Daytona races. For his part, Wallace was runner up in this race last season. Capping off the roster option is rookie Daniel Hemric. He is in his first season with Richard Childress Racing at the Cup level and is poised to impress this weekend with the speed he has shown. He starts deep in the field in 29th, but should be capable of racing forward if he can avoid contact.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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