DraftKings NASCAR: Daytona 500

DraftKings NASCAR: Daytona 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Daytona 500

Location: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Course: Daytona International Speedway
Format: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 200

Race Preview

NASCAR's biggest race of the season kicks off a new era in the sport. Monster Energy is the new title sponsor, past favorites have been replaced by new faces, and Jimmie Johnson will be aiming to score a record-breaking eighth championship. It all begins this Sunday when 40 cars will start the 2017 Daytona 500. The field will be led to the green flag for the second consecutive year by Chase Elliott in his No. 24 Chevrolet. Alongside him will be teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who's making his return after sitting out much of 2016 with concussion-like symptoms. Daytona International Speedway is a drafting circuit where horsepower and aerodynamics will play a huge role in the outcome. We have seen both Ford and Toyota be very strong in the draft while Chevrolet (Hendrick Motorsports in particular) may have the edge in outright speed. Passing at the front has been a bit more plentiful than in past seasons, but having a drafting partner will be paramount to any driver hoping to find success this Sunday.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

Number of previous races: 139
Winners from pole: 26
Winners from top-5 starters: 74
Winners from top-10 starters: 108
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 9
Fastest race: 183.295 mph

Last 10 Daytona Winners

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.
2013 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2012 fall - Tony Stewart
2012 spring - Matt Kenseth

Denny Hamlin won the 2016 Daytona 500, and he and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates should challenge for the win again in 2017. Tire wear will be a concern for drivers, which is somewhat unique for a restrictor-plate circuit. Drivers and teams will need to stay on top of their handling throughout the afternoon. Doing so will enable them to remain near the front and find a teammate or drafting partner as the laps wind down. A group of teammates that can stick together in the closing laps at the front of the field will prove to be very difficult to beat. Joey Logano captured the Advanced Auto Parts Clash by working with teammate Brad Keselowski to pick off the JGR cars that were lined up in the lead ahead of him, and similar circumstances should be expected Sunday. Paying careful attention to which drivers and teams are able to work their way into the top-five and challenge in the closing laps of Thursday's qualifying races should give fantasy players a good idea as to who to add to their rosters as they set lineups for Sunday.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,600
Brad Keselowski - $10,300
Jimmie Johnson - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Joey Logano - $9,900
Kevin Harvick - $9,700
Denny Hamlin - $9,600
Kyle Busch - $9,400
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Kurt Busch - $8,800
Matt Kenseth - $8,700
Kyle Larson - $8,500
Austin Dillon - $8,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Erik Jones - $8,300
Daniel Suarez - $7,700
Ryan Blaney - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000
Elliott Sadler - $6,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Denny Hamlin - $9,600
Kurt Busch - $8,800
Matt Kenseth - $8,700
Austin Dillon - $8,200
Clint Bowyer - $7,800
Elliott Sadler - $6,600

The lower-risk lineup for the Daytona 500 has a number of bright spots. Hamlin won the race last season and was closing in to a top finish in the Clash before finishing 13th. He also had a string of five consecutive top-10 finishes at the track until he finished 17th in the July race last season. Kurt Busch continues to be one of the best restrictor-plate racers never to have won at Daytona or Talladega. He was the first driver out of last weekend's Clash after Johnson collided with him, but Busch has 12 top-fives and 16 top-10s from 31 career Daytona starts. Two-time Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth is another driver fantasy players shouldn't overlook. His recent Daytona results haven't been the best of his career, but he was part of the Joe Gibbs Racing crew at the front of the field in the closing laps of the Clash. The 2016 restrictor-plate races were good to Austin Dillon with four top-10 finishes. He has five top-10s at Daytona from seven career tries. The current season will be an opportunity for Clint Bowyer to put the disaster that was 2016 behind him. He is in some of the best machinery in the series, and he finished in the top 10 in four of the last five Daytona races. Elliott Sadler makes his return to Cup this week. This will be his first race back in the series since 2013 when he made five starts. His best Daytona finish was second in 2004, and he guaranteed himself entry into Sunday's race by virtue of his qualifying pace.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,600
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,000
Jamie McMurray - $8,000
Daniel Suarez - $7,700
Ryan Blaney - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000

Racing at Daytona comes with many risks, and unpredictability at the two restrictor-plate tracks gives fantasy owners opportunity to choose some drivers with question marks surrounding their potential. While Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a logical choice for this weekend's race for many reasons his absence from the driver''s seat for much of last season leaves a lot of uncertainty about how he will perform this week. Still, Earnhardt at Daytona is usually a good choice. Martin Truex Jr. hasn't had the best Daytona luck. He recorded three DNFs in the last seven races at the track, but finished in the top 10 in two of the last four. He is consistently fast, but will need to stay out of trouble to finish well this week. Chip Ganassi Racing hasn't fully returned to the top of the heap in terms of competitiveness, but 2017 is a new season and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Teammate Kyle Larson won a race last season and McMurray is a former Daytona 500 champion. Daniel Suarez is stepping into the shoes of Carl Edwards. Those are big shoes to fill, but the 2016 Xfinity series champion brings a lot to the table and will have one of the best cars in the field with the might of JGR at his back. Ryan Blaney is still searching for the first Cup victory, but he impressed countless times last season with his 14th-place July Daytona finish among those highlights. Finally, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost veteran teammate Greg Biffle in the offseason, but should be capable of standing on his own now. The burden on him will be higher this season than last, but with his top-five at this track last July he should be in store for a good finish again this time around.

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.
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NASCAR Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NASCAR fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
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.
Ambetter Health 400 Preview: New Slot for Atlanta
Ambetter Health 400 Preview: New Slot for Atlanta
NASCAR Barometer:  William Byron Wins Rain-Delayed Daytona 500
NASCAR Barometer: William Byron Wins Rain-Delayed Daytona 500
NASCAR DFS: PrizePicks Selections for the Daytona 500
NASCAR DFS: PrizePicks Selections for the Daytona 500
NASCAR DFS:  Daytona 500
NASCAR DFS: Daytona 500
NASCAR Xfinity DFS: United Rentals 300
NASCAR Xfinity DFS: United Rentals 300
NASCAR Trucks DFS:  Fresh From Florida 250
NASCAR Trucks DFS: Fresh From Florida 250