DraftKings NASCAR: Coke Zero 400

DraftKings NASCAR: Coke Zero 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Coke Zero 400

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

Race Preview

Teams will roll out their best drafting cars for this week's Coke Zero 400. After a week of road course racing, the series now heads back to its roots in Daytona. The rules package at Florida's superspeedway means we'll see pack-style racing, and drivers will hope to avoid the big crashes that style of racing tends to produce. While passing out front at the restrictor-plate tracks has been difficult recently, the track can still spring plenty of surprises. Fantasy players may lean toward Joe Gibbs Racing drivers as a result of their dominance at the track in February. Other teams have closed the gap in performance in recent weeks, and that should give more drivers a firm belief that they can score a Daytona win this Saturday night.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

Number of previous races: 138
Winners from pole: 26
Winners from top-5 starters: 73
Winners from top-10 starters: 107
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 9
Fastest race: 183.295 mph

Last 10 Daytona Winners

2016 spring - Denny Hamlin
2015 fall - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015 spring - Joey Logano
2014 fall - Aric Almirola
2014 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2013 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2012 fall - Tony Stewart
2012 spring - Matt Kenseth
2011 fall - David Ragan

Daytona's high speeds and pack-style racing demand intense concentration from drivers, a lot of horsepower and effective handling. Daytona is narrower than Talladega Superspeedway, which means handling can be a concern throughout a fuel run. The ability to make a car abruptly change lanes to either block or make a pass can only come from a good handling, powerful machine. Fantasy players know that a car in the lead at Daytona is more difficult to pass than in previous years, and drafting partners will be necessary to make moves forward through the field. The night race of July should be expected to bunch the field a bit tighter than was seen in February, but only when cars hit the track will we know how difficult it will be to pass.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,600
Kevin Harvick - $10,300
Jimmie Johnson - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kyle Busch - $9,900
Denny Hamlin - $9,800
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,500
Kurt Busch - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Matt Kenseth - $8,600
Kyle Larson - $8,100
Austin Dillon - $7,900
Jamie McMurray - $7,800

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Casey Mears - $7,000
Ryan Blaney - $6,800
Regan Smith - $6,000
Michael McDowell - $5,700


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,600
Denny Hamlin - $9,800
Kurt Busch - $9,100
Casey Mears - $7,000
Ryan Blaney - $6,800
Aric Almirola - $6,600

At Daytona, the favorite will certainly be Earnhardt. He should have been a contender for the win in February, but hit trouble early. That shouldn't happen again this week. Hamlin gives the roster some of the Joe Gibbs Racing flavor that was so powerful at this track, and with five consecutive top-five Daytona finishes, there's little reason not to add him to the roster. While Kurt Busch continues his winless quest on the superspeedways, he's one of the best racers in the draft. He finished the Daytona 500 in 10th position and has four top-10s in the last five Daytona races. Mears is a driver who receives little credit for racing at Daytona, but he's actually quite valuable. His average finish from the last five Daytona races is 12.6. Blaney is still honing his superspeedway craft, but had a mature outing in the Daytona 500 and should be capable of at least a top-15 performance Saturday night. The final slot in the lower-risk roster goes to Almirola partially because of his win at this race two seasons ago and partially for his three top-15s in the last four races at the track.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Jimmie Johnson - $10,100
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,500
Chase Elliott - $8,800
Kyle Larson - $8,100
Austin Dillon - $7,900
Chris Buescher - $5,000

This week's higher-risk lineup puts a little more faith in youth over experience. Jimmie Johnson has the experience with three Daytona wins and is the anchor of this lineup. Martin Truex Jr. has been blindingly quick at Daytona the past few seasons and could be ready to win here after his runner-up in February. Eliott begins to bring the youth factor to the party. We all know he has the equipment to win at Daytona, but needs to finish the race on Saturday. Larson is a similar play to Elliott. He has shown potential in the draft and finished seventh in February. He should be in store for another top-10 if he can be mistake-free for Saturday's 400 miles. Richard Childress Racing and Austin Dillon have proven to be a great combination at this track as well. In six career Daytona starts Dillon has four top-10s. Lastly, rookie Chris Buescher may have crashed out of his first Daytona 500, but he raced to second in the February 2015 Xfinity event at the track and was 12th there in the summer Xfinity stop. His team has a competitive superspeedway package, and Buescher should be capable of picking up his first Sprint Cup top-10 of the season this weekend.

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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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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