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 oval
Laps: 200

Race Preview

The start of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season is here, and the Daytona 500 is the first major prize drivers will battle for in the long NASCAR season. Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano are the most recent drivers to taste victory in the historic race, and the remaining 37 drivers will hope to replicate that success on Sunday. This year's race features two rookies and a new body from Chevrolet, but the major rule changes to which we've grown accustomed in past years are set for a year of relative stability. The slight pause in the rules package should allow some teams to hone their settings and could decrease the gap between the leaders and the mid-pack. Other tweaks to the inspection process also should reduce the number of times teams fail to make a qualifying attempt throughout the 36-race calendar. It was always frustrating to see a driver quick on Friday but start in the rear because the inspection process took too long. As for Daytona, Ford has had the upper hand more recently and has two victories at the speedway already this year. The blue oval machines have won the last three races at the track, and struck first blood last Sunday when Brad Keselowski won the Advance Auto Parts Clash. While they look strong, Chevrolet and Toyota remain in close contact.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

Number of previous races: 141
Winners from pole: 26
Winners from top-5 starters: 74
Winners from top-10 starters: 110
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 9
Fastest race: 183.295 mph

Last 10 Daytona Winners

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.
2013 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson

Power is of utmost importance at Daytona. The ability to make a pass in the draft requires an extra kick, and most often requires help from cars behind. Handling is also important over the 500 miles. The Florida sun can make the track slippery, and that will require drivers to stay alert at all times. These track characteristics could make the loose conditions to which we've seen drivers fall afoul this past week even more of an issue on Sunday. Passing the leader has been a challenge at the track recently, too. Contenders for the win will want to be out front as the laps wind down. Those not in the lead will be lobbying partners to help push them to the front. Alex Bowman will start the race on pole alongside Denny Hamlin, but starting position means relatively little in this particular event other than bragging rights. Being out front is an advantage in the early stages, however. Big wrecks are common in restrictor-plate races, and being ahead of the carnage could give those two drivers an edge as they work to survive to the end in order to fight for the victory.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,400
Chase Elliott - $10,200
Kyle Busch - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Joey Logano - $9,600
Kyle Larson - $9,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $8,900
Kurt Busch - $8,700
Ryan Blaney - $8,600

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Jamie McMurray - $8,000
Austin Dillon - $7,900
Alex Bowman - $7,500
William Byron - $7,300

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Paul Menard - $7,000
Trevor Bayne - $6,900
Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,800
Ty Dillon - $6,400


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,400
Kevin Harvick - $9,900
Joey Logano - $9,600
Ryan Blaney - $8,600
A.J. Allmendinger - $5,900
Danica Patrick - $5,600

The lower-risk lineup for this weekend's Daytona 500 is a Ford-heavy selection. Ford teams dominated much of the racing we've seen at the circuit so far, and the Penske Racing team in particular looks among the best prepared. Keselowski already won last week's Clash, and will be aiming to win on Sunday despite crashing out of his qualifying race on Thursday. He will start from the rear on Sunday as a result. Harvick had a very good showing in Thursday's qualifying race, and will no doubt have a gameplan of how to take the lead at the right time this weekend. Logano is the only Penske driver not to have won so far this week, but he has been in contention every time he has been on track. The new car and team already is paying dividends for Blaney. He will be starting on the second row Sunday after winning his qualifying race on Thursday. Allmendinger has been keeping a relatively low profile so far, but he consistently rises to the front throughout these restrictor-plate races. We expect him to do the same on Sunday, and two top-fives and four top-10s from 17 starts at the track shows it is likely again. While this may be Patrick's last Daytona 500 she has always put on a respectable showing. She is with a small team, but made it through the qualifying race and should be ready to sign off with a confident showing.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,000
Denny Hamlin - $9,800
Kurt Busch - $8,700
Alex Bowman - $7,500
Daniel Suarez - $7,200
Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,800

While the lower-risk lineup featured Ford, the higher-risk lineup features Toyota. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have been shut out of Victory Lane so far, but not because they haven't been right at the front fighting for the top spot. Kyle Busch and Hamlin have both proven themselves capable of winning this weekend, and it wouldn't come as a surprise if either were to visit Victory Lane. They each have one Daytona win. Kurt Busch took the checkered flag last season, and his capabilities in this type of racing are superior to most of the field. He starts just outside of the top 10 in 11th this weekend. Bowman will be the driver on pole, and he made a wise move by dropping to the back of the pack in Thursday's Duel, preserving that top starting spot. Fantasy players should appreciate him because of his fast equipment and experience running in the pack. Suarez and Wallace are two excellent selections to grab this deep in a roster. Wallace had a tremendous outing for Richard Petty Motorsports in his Thursday qualifying race, while Suarez has the chance to link up with his powerful teammates. Both drivers could outperform expectations 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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