NASCAR DFS:  Daytona 500

NASCAR DFS: Daytona 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Daytona 500

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

NASCAR Daytona 500 Race Preview

The stage has been set for the biggest race in the NASCAR Cup Series, the Daytona 500, and the official start to the 2023 season. Alex Bowman made headlines for capturing the top starting spot in single-car qualifying, which is the sixth consecutive time he will start this race on the front row. He'll be joined at the front by teammate Kyle Larson who lines up second. Defending series champion Joey Logano used his Team Penske Ford power to muscle his way to the win in Thursday's first qualifying duel while Aric Almirola avoided trouble to win the second. The pair of Duels wins for Ford make them an instant favorite for Sunday's race, though Chevrolet also has shown the speed to compete for the victory, too. Toyota might be the manufacturer facing the most questions on Sunday. Christopher Bell is the maker's only representative starting inside the top 10. However, Toyota teams historically work together really well on race and pit strategy, so don't make a mistake and count them out quite yet. The 2023 season gets its first official green flag Sunday afternoon with one if the sport's biggest prizes, along with a spot in the championship playoffs, up for grabs.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

  • 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 Winners

2022 fall - Austin Dillon
2022 spring - Austin Cindric
2021 fall - Ryan Blaney
2021 spring - Michael McDowell
2020 fall - William Byron
2020 spring - Denny Hamlin
2019 fall - Justin Haley
2019 spring - Denny Hamlin
2018 fall - Erik Jones
2018 spring - Austin Dillon

With a year of racing with the latest generation of car under everyone's belts, this year's Daytona 500 arguably has less unknowns than last season. Rookie Austin Cindric took the victory last year while Austin Dillon scored a win in the fall race to advance to the playoffs. The car raced well last year and encouraged the pack-style drafting that makes places like Daytona so famous. Despite fewer unknowns related to the new car, Daytona itself tends to be an unpredictable race. Having a good race car in the draft is often more important than single-car speed or track position. For that reason fantasy players may want to lean on Ford-powered drivers this weekend as they proved to be the best in Thursday's qualifying races. Certain drivers also tend to be more adept at navigating the draft throughout the 500 miles, putting themselves in position in the final laps to fight for the win. This race tends to be an exercise in survival until the final 25 miles when elbows come out and drivers start forcing their way to the front. Along the way, pit strategy will be key to keeping drivers in position to win. Coordinating those stops with drafting partners will be vital to avoid falling behind the pack. Cautions tend to come more frequently in the final miles as drivers get more aggressive in their charge to the front. For all of those reasons fantasy players would do well to include both experienced superspeedway racers along with some longshots in order to scoop up as many points possible in Sunday's kick off of the 2023 regular season.

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DraftKings Value Picks for the Daytona 500 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Chase Elliott - $10,400
Denny Hamlin - $10,300
Ryan Blaney - $10,100
Joey Logano - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Kyle Larson - $9,900
William Byron - $9,700
Kyle Busch - $9,600
Bubba Wallace - $9,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Brad Keselowski - $8,800
Christopher Bell - $8,400
Austin Cindric - $8,200
Austin Dillon - $8,000

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Alex Bowman - $7,500
Chase Briscoe - $7,400
Erik Jones - $6,600
Aric Almirola - $6,200

NASCAR DFS Picks for the Daytona 500

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Ryan Blaney - $10,100
Bubba Wallace - $9,400
Austin Dillon - $8,000
Chase Briscoe - $7,400
Erik Jones - $6,600
Aric Almirola - $6,200

Were it not for some bad luck coming off of the final corner in last year's Daytona 500, Ryan Blaney (DK $10,100, FD $13,000) might have won that race. He won the fall Daytona race in 2021 and led 36 laps there last spring before missing out on the victory in the final yards. Blaney is one of the favorites to win on Sunday despite going winless through all of 2022. Bubba Wallace (DK $9,400, FD $10,500) was also within a breath of winning last year's race after being edged out at the line by Austin Cindric. Wallace has four top-five finishes from 11 Daytona starts and led 23 laps in the last four. Wallace is one of the better drivers in this style of draft racing, which makes him another favorite to watch on Sunday. Another proven Daytona winner fantasy players should consider selecting is Austin Dillon (DK $8,000, FD $7,500). He is a Daytona 500 champion and won the fall Daytona visit last season. He has a new teammate for 2023 in Kyle Busch, which could help Dillon and the entire Richard Childress Racing organization make their already strong superspeedway package even better. Many that follow the sport closely will speak highly of Chase Briscoe's (DK $7,400, FD $6,200) potential in 2023. He ended 2022 with a good amount of momentum, which seemed to carry into this week's on-track activity. Briscoe was quick in practice and showed the pace to race at the front in his qualifying duel, too. His best Daytona finish was a third-place finish in last year's Daytona 500. Erik Jones (DK $6,600, FD $8,000) put the No. 43 back into Victory Lane in 2022, and the team rebranded itself and added a new owner in Jimmie Johnson during the winter. Those moves all make for optimism about the team's chances in 2023. Jones has one prior Daytona victory and led 25 total laps in his two visits to the track last season. After winning one of Thursday night's Duel races it becomes very hard to pass up Aric Almirola (DK $6,200, FD $6,800). He was on the brink of retiring at the end of 2022 but opted to return with a multi-year agreement. He is consistently among the best at Daytona and Talladega and makes a bargain option.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,000
Kyle Busch - $9,600
Christopher Bell - $8,600
Chris Buescher - $7,100
Michael McDowell - $6,500
Corey Lajoie - $5,500

Logano (DK $10,000, FD $11,500) got the defense of his 2022 series championship off on the right foot by winning his qualifying race Thursday night. He is a former Daytona 500 winner and has been in position to win more, too. He has led 234 laps, scored six top-fives, and nine top-10s from 22 career starts at Daytona. While Logano visited Victory Lane Kyle Busch (DK $9,600, FD $11,000) was left to lament what might have been. He was crashed out while leading his qualifying race, which gives his team a lot of work to get ready for Sunday. Still, RCR has one of the best superspeedway programs in the garage, which could give Busch the edge he needs to grab his first Daytona 500 victory. He will start Sunday's race deep in the field, which should give a good amount of finish differential points to fantasy players choosing to go with him. Toyota's best shot at winning on Sunday might be Christopher Bell (DK $8,600, FD $9,000). He crashed out of four of his six starts at the track but has been fast and appears to have that competitive pace again this week. He finished second to Logano in his qualifying race and should be a contender at the finish if he can make it to the end. Another Ford-powered driver to consider is Chris Buescher (DK $7,100, FD $6,800). Buescher made it to Victory Lane last season in the Duels and at Bristol. He finished fourth in Thursday's qualifying race and is offered at a reasonable price for rosters this week. Former Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell (DK $6,500, FD $7,000) remains a longshot this week, but comes with a history of good returns for fantasy players. Besides the obvious Daytona win he also has two other top-fives and seven other top-10s at the track. He finished seventh in last year's race and led briefly in the fall before a crash knocked him out of the race. Another longshot worthy of attention is Corey Lajoie (DK $5,500, FD $5,000). Lajoie has a knack for surviving at this track, which typically leads to top finishes. He scored three top-10 finishes from 12 Daytona starts and led six laps at the track last fall.

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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