RaceDayScore NASCAR: Daytona 500

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Daytona 500

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.


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

Race Preview

The 2016 season of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing kicks off this Sunday with the biggest race of the season, the Daytona 500. The 500 is run during the day, which could make handling a bit more difficult for drivers and teams as the sun and heat can make the track more slippery than the night races. Restrictor-plate racing almost always creates a tight draft of cars, and being able to work forward through the draft will be the key to winning Sunday's event for drivers. We've seen that cars out front at Daytona are more difficult to pass than others in the pack, so taking the lead will require more cooperation than normal this weekend. The chassis rules package for Daytona requires an aerodynamically efficient car that preserves tires and, of course, delivers plenty of horsepower. Qualifying isn't as important at this track as many others due to the pack-style racing, and Sunday's winner could come from anywhere in the field.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

Previous races: 137
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:

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
2011 spring - Trevor Bayne

Given RaceDayScore.com's scoring scheme, fantasy players could benefit from drivers having a hard time passing at the front of the field. The fantasy points system rewards drivers for laps led, finish differential (how far a driver finishes forward from their starting position), and ultimately the position in which they finish. Stout cars that can get out front and stay in the lead not only have a great chance of winning at Daytona, but could lead more laps than usual en route to victory this year. That could be good news for fantasy players that choose their rosters wisely. The only trick is choosing the right options. Certainly the Joe Gibbs Racing cars have raced well this week, but the Penske Racing Fords and Hendrick Motorports drivers should also share some time at the front of the field. Given this game's scoring scheme, below is a list of drivers worthy of consideration.

(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $12,700
Kevin Harvick - $12,300
Joey Logano - $12,000
Denny Hamlin - $11,600
Kurt Busch - $11,400

Tier 2 Values

Jamie McMurray - $10,500
Carl Edwards - $10,400
Paul Menard - $10,400
Greg Biffle - $10,300
Austin Dillon - $10,100

Tier 3 Values

Aric Almirola - $9,900
Kasey Kahne - $9,800
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,400
Chase Elliott - $9,300

Long-Shot Values

David Ragan - $8,800
A.J. Allmendinger - $8,600
Ryan Blaney - $8,500
Chris Buescher - $8,300


Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $12,700
Jimmie Johnson - $11,600
Kurt Busch - $11,400
Brian Vickers - $9,000
Regan Smith - $7,800
Matt DiBenedetto - $7,000

No low-risk fantasy lineup at Daytona would be complete if Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s name wasn't on it. He heads this week's safety option with teammate Jimmie Johnson a solid choice at second due to his consistency and past Daytona 500 wins. Kurt Busch heads the list of best drivers never to have won at a superspeedway due to his skills in the draft, including finishing second in three Daytona 500s. Vickers will have the tremendous backing of Stewart-Haas Racing despite only being in the car for what looks like this one race, and Regan Smith hasn't finished worse than 16th in his last two visits to this circuit. Lastly, Matt DiBenedetto is the value option despite having only one prior Daytona start in the Sprint Cup. His place differential in that outing was 15, which earns him a rightful selection this week.

Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,500
Martin Truex Jr. - $11,100
Clint Bowyer- $10,700
Casey Mears - $9,600
Kyle Larson - $8,600
Ryan Blaney - $8,500

Kyle Busch leads the higher-risk roster option for the Daytona 500. He has never won the big race, but is the 2015 Sprint Cup champion. Truex switched to Toyota from Chevrolet in 2016, but has a new partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing to help him and the team climb the learning curve faster, and the JGR cars have all been strong this past week. A one-year interim deal for Bowyer is in place before he takes over for the retiring Tony Stewart, and Bowyer said he wants to win the Daytona 500 more than anything. Mears has been a consistent over-achiever on the superspeedways, and third-year driver Kyle Larson is hunting for his first win in the series. Finally, Blaney brings one of NASCAR's most famous teams to Daytona 500 with a guaranteed spot in Sunday's race based on his qualifying pace. Blaney is lightning quick, and could be a spoiler 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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