NASCAR DFS:  Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona

NASCAR DFS: Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona

Location: Daytona, Fla.
Course: Daytona International Speedway
Format: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 60

Race Preview

After getting the action underway on the 0.25-mile temporary oval at the Los Angeles Coliseum two weeks ago, the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series turn their focus this week to the sports biggest prize at Daytona International Speedway. Before drivers can race for that Daytona 500 win they must first race through the Duels, though. Past Duels - the traditional Thursday qualifying races that set the starting order for Sunday's Daytona 500 - have given great insight into what fantasy players can expect the following Sunday in the Daytona 500. Knowing that trend makes Thursday's qualifying races quite educational for fantasy players as they jockey their selections for Sunday. Last year Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher came out of the gate strongly with the teammates capturing both checkered flags on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, both were also fast in Sunday's Daytona 500. However, it was rookie Austin Cindric who survived to win the big race and returns as this year's defending Daytona 500 champion. The next step toward the start of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season is set for Thursday night, under the lights, at Daytona.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway (points races)

  • Number of races: 151
  • Winners from pole: 26
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 75
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 114
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 13
  • Fastest race: 183.295 mph

Previous 10 Daytona Duels Winners

2021 Duel No. 2 - Chris Buescher
2021 Duel No. 1 - Brad Keselowski
2021 Duel No. 2 - Austin Dillon
2021 Duel No. 1 - Aric Almirola
2020 Duel No. 2 - William Byron
2020 Duel No. 1 - Joey Logano
2019 Duel No. 2 - Joey Logano
2019 Duel No. 1 - Kevin Harvick
2018 Duel No. 2 - Chase Elliott
2018 Duel No. 1 - Ryan Blaney

The qualifying races for he Daytona 500 mark the first superspeedway race action teams will experience before the green flag flies for Sunday's Daytona 500. While the races serve the purpose of setting the starting lineup for the main race, teams will have differing agendas for Thursday depending on their own unique situations. The two cars that qualified on the front row in Wednesday's single-car qualifying will simply aim to learn as much as possible while avoiding as much risk as possible. Their primary goal will be to avoid potential trouble that would force them out of their front-row spot due to having to move to a backup car. Other teams guaranteed starting positions will have a bit more they want to learn and will be trying to finish as far forward as possible to improve their starting spot for Sunday. In addition, they also have to be cautious of taking too much risk and potentially having to pull out a backup car. Finally, those drivers not guaranteed a spot have it all to play for. For these teams there is everything to gain by putting it all out there Thursday in order to make the show on Sunday. While the different agendas make for a slightly atypical event, fantasy players can still learn quite a bit to apply to their roster selections for Sunday.

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DraftKings Value Picks for the Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Ross Chastain - $10,000 - Duel 1
Denny Hamlin - $10,000 - Duel 2
Bubba Wallace - $9,700 - Duel 1
Chase Elliott - $9,800 - Duel 2

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Joey Logano - $9,700 - Duel 1
Kyle Busch - $9,600 - Duel 2
Tyler Reddick - $9,300 - Duel 2
Ryan Blaney - $9,200 - Duel 1

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Brad Keselowski - $8,900 - Duel 2
Austin Dillon - $8,700 - Duel 1
Chase Briscoe - $8,100 - Duel 2
Erik Jones - $8,100 - Duel 1

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ryan Preece - $7,800 - Duel 2
Chris Buescher - $6,900 - Duel 1
Michael McDowell - $6,600 - Duel 1
Corey Lajoie - $6,300 - Duel 2

NASCAR DFS Picks for the Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona

Duel No. 1 Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Bubba Wallace - $9,700
Joey Logano - $9,500
Austin Dillon - $8,700
Erik Jones - $8,100
Chris Buescher - $6,900
Michael McDowell - $6,600

Last year Bubba Wallace (DK $9,700, FD $10,500) came quite close to winning the Daytona 500. He is often found at the front at Daytona, leading at least one lap in each of the last four races at the track. Wallace should be a top choice for Sunday as well as Thursday night's qualifying race. Despite losing out on the top spots in single-car qualifing, the Ford-powered teams appear to have speed for the race. Joey Logano (DK $9,500, FD $11,500) should be a great example of what Ford potential may be on Sunday. Logano won the 500 in 2015 but has been hampered by bad luck despite running at the front in recent seasons. He has led laps in his last eight track appearances. Another Daytona 500 champion to pay close attention to on Thursday is Austin Dillon (DK $8,700, FD $7,500). Dillon won the big race in 2018 and won Daytona's summer race last season. Richard Childress Racing consistently brings fast cars to superspeedways and Dillon is a driver that can make the most of that potential. Erik Jones (DK $8,100, FD $8,000) turned the 27th-fastest lap in single-car qualifying on Wednesday. While that isn't encouraging, he and the team know a fast car in the race is more important than the starting position for the Duel. Jones and his new-look team found Victory Lane last season and also led 22 laps at Daytona in the summer. This is a driver that should outperform in Thursday's race compared to Wednesday's single-car qualifying. Chris Buescher (DK $6,900, FD $6,800) was optimistic about his race potential when interviewed Wednesday. He was the 13th-fastest car in qualifying, but fantasy players should expect him to race at the front of the pack Thursday night. He won his qualifying Duel last season. Another driver that typically performs at his best at Daytona is 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell (DK $6,600, FD $7,000). His Front Row Motorsports team always seems to be in the mix at the end of the superspeedway races and Thursday shouldn't be much different from McDowell.

Duel No. 2 Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Denny Hamlin - $10,000
Kyle Busch - $9,600
Brad Keselowski - $8,900
Chase Briscoe - $8,100
Martin Truex Jr. - $6,900
Corey Lajoie - $6,300

Denny Hamlin's (DK $10,000, FD $12,500) 26th-place qualifying effort Wednesday should not worry fantasy players. Hamlin is an astute racer on superspeedways with three Daytona 500 wins to his credit. He crashed out of both races at the track last year but not before spending 13 laps out front in the summer event and should move to the front through Thursday's Duel. This season could be one of renewal for Kyle Busch (DK $9,600, FD $11,000). He gets a fresh start with a new team, and that particular team is typically among the fastest at Daytona. This could give him the best opportunity to win a Daytona 500 he has had in a while. Busch won the summer race here in 2008 and led 35 combined laps in his two visits to the track last season. Brad Keselowski (DK $8,900, FD $9,500) moved to a new team and ownership role last season and promptly won his qualifying Duel. The RFK Racing team consistently produces fast cars for races at Daytona, and Keselowski is one of the best on superspeedways. He hasn't delivered the same level of success at this track as he has at Talladega, but he remains one of the top fantasy drivers each time the series visits either of these two superspeedways. Another driver with plenty of optimism for the coming season is Chase Briscoe (DK $8,100, FD $6,200). He ended 2022 with a head full of momentum that he hopes to carry into 2023. Things look promising out of the gate considering he was sixth-fastest in Wednesday's qualifying, too. The racing season got off to the perfect start for Martin Truex Jr. (DK $6,900, FD $7,800) at the Busch Clash. After going winless in 2022 he put his car in Victory Lane in the very first on-track event. Now he needs to do that in a regular-season race, and what better place to do that than Daytona? Truex doesn't have the greatest superspeedway record, but he did finish eighth in the summer race here last season. Finally, a worthy Daytona longshot for fantasy rosters is Corey Lajoie (DK $6,300, FD $5,000). He somehow tends to find his way into the mix at the end of these races simply by avoiding trouble. He has three top-10s from 12 Daytona starts and led six laps at the track last summer.

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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