DFS NASCAR: Coke Zero Sugar 400

DFS NASCAR: Coke Zero Sugar 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Coke Zero Sugar 400

Location: Daytona, Fla.
Course: Daytona International Speedway
Format: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 160

Race Preview

Once again Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick share the victories in a double-header race weekend. With his win at Dover on Sunday, Harvick grabbed the regular-season championship and will carry that momentum right on into the playoffs that commence after this week's wild-card shootout at Daytona International Speedway. This week's race will finalize the playoff contestants, and there may not be a more exciting venue in which to do that than Daytona. The superspeedway has a history of producing surprising winners, and, to see evidence of that, fantasy players need not look any further than this race last season where Justin Haley won. Making things even more tense is the playoff cutoff line battle has converged to a three-way battle between Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron and Jimmie Johnson with just nine points separating the three. This is the regular-season finale NASCAR was hoping for when they named Daytona as the final race before the championship battle officially begins.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

  • Number of races: 146
  • Winners from pole: 26
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 74
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 111
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 12
  • Fastest race: 183.295 mph

Previous 10 Daytona Winners

2020 spring - Denny Hamlin
2019 fall - Justin Haley
2019 spring - Denny Hamlin
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.

Daytona International Speedway is a high-speed 2.5-mile tri-oval that features pack racing from the front to the back. Drivers need horsepower and drafting partners to work their way through the field, and fresh tires could enable more moves to be made to get those passes done. Passing at the front can be difficult, however, Denny Hamlin led 79 of the 209 total laps in February's Daytona 500. While passes for the lead can be made, they usually cannot happen without a push from behind. Those pushes have a tendency to cause crashes near the front of the pack, which can take out swaths of potential race winning cars very easily. For that reason, simply getting to the finish without getting caught in an accident can give a driver a chance for victory. Races at this track can sometimes be extremely difficult for fantasy players to predict for those reasons. Looking for value drivers who will start farther back in the field, but have a history of racing well in the draft, could be a useful strategy this weekend.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Chase Elliott - $11,000
Denny Hamlin - $10,400
Kyle Busch - $10,200
Ryan Blaney - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Erik Jones - $9,800
Brad Keselowski - $9,600
Joey Logano - $9,400
Austin Dillon - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $8,800
Kurt Busch - $8,400
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $8,300
Aric Almirola - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

William Byron - $7,800
Clint Bowyer - $7,600
Christopher Bell - $7,500
Jimmie Johnson - $7,400

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Chase Elliott - $11,000
Denny Hamlin - $10,400
Joey Logano - $9,400
Bubba Wallace - $6,600
Ryan Newman - $6,500
Chris Buescher - $6,000

Chase Elliott (DK $11,000, FD $11,800) has been frequently quick at Daytona, scoring three poles in nine starts at the track, but he hasn't yet scored a top-10 at the track. His ability to get out front and lead laps (87 total) suggests that getting to the finish may be his biggest obstacle to winning on Friday. Denny Hamlin (DK $10,400, FD $11,700) has won three Daytona 500 races, including the last two. He has also led 521 laps in his 29 starts at the track. Joey Logano (DK $9,400, FD $9,600) won the 2019 Daytona 500, finished in the top five in each of the last three races at the track and hasn't finished lower than 15 at the track in his last nine starts. Bubba Wallace (DK $6,600, FD $7,000) has proven himself to be an excellent fantasy option at this track. He finished second in the 2018 Daytona 500 and has an average finish of 16.5 from his six starts. Fantasy players will remember Ryan Newman's (DK $6,500, FD $10,000) scary crash at the finish of the Daytona 500, and they should remember he was racing for the win at the time. He won that race in 2009 and has had five top-10 finishes in the last six Daytona races. Chris Buescher (DK $6,000, FD $8,200) also offers fantasy rosters good value for price. He will start 17th Saturday night and has scored three top-fives in the last five Daytona races.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Ryan Blaney - $10,000
Erik Jones - $9,800
Aric Almirola - $8,100
Christopher Bell - $7,500
Jimmie Johnson - $7,400
Matt DiBenedetto - $7,000

Penske Racing's Ryan Blaney (DK $10,000, FD $10,000) heads the Higher-Risk lineup. He has proven himself to be comfortable and fast racing at Daytona and Talladega. He won twice at Talladega and finished second in this year's Daytona 500. Erik Jones (DK $9,800, FD $) is racing for his future in the series after the announcement that he would not return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. He won this race in 2018 and has two other top-10s from his six starts at the circuit. Aric Almirola (DK $8,100 FD $8,800) remains a somewhat overlooked contender at this track. His Stewart-Haas Racing team fields excellent superspeedway cars, and he finished seventh in this race last season. He won this race with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2014. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $8,300, FD $12,000) could also be a good option in this slot. Christopher Bell (DK $7,500, FD $10,000) is the driver tapped to replace Erik Jones at JGR next season. He crashed out of the Daytona 500 but led at Talladega and finished in the top 10 at the track in three out of four Xfinity series starts. Jimmie Johnson (DK $7,400, FD $9,100) is determined to get to the playoffs in his final full-time season in the series. A win would do that, but so would a good finish in the points. He will need to get to the finish to accomplish that. He finished third in this race last season and has three prior wins at the track. Matt DiBenedetto (DK $7,000, FD $9,500) is also fighting for his playoff hopes. He has three top-10 finishes at the track from 10 starts, including eighth in this race last season. 

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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