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DraftKings NASCAR: Can-Am Duel Qualifying Races

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Can-Am Duel Qualifying Races

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

Race Preview

While Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin qualified on the front row for this Sunday's Daytona 500 the rest of the field will be racing for their starting positions Thursday night. This year will be the first time in almost 50 years where all the cars racing on Thursday will start Sunday's marquee event. Forty starting positions are up for grabs, but with only 40 entrants no driver will be sent home unable to race their way in. Instead, Thursday's exhibition events will give them valuable track time with 19 other machines running at full tilt. The stress of making the show may be gone, but that only enables teams to be more prepared for what they might encounter on Sunday. Bowman and Hamlin will lead each pack to the green flag, and no driver will want to get caught up in an accident that forces them to shift to a back-up car. If that were to happen to Bowman or Hamlin they would relinquish their qualifying efforts and start at the rear Sunday afternoon. This will be an opportunity for drivers to hone their settings, get comfortable in the draft and to get used to pit stops. With fewer crew members allowed to service the car in 2018 there will be plenty for the crews to learn as well.

Key Stats at Daytona International Speedway

Previous races: 18
Winners from pole: 2
Winners from top-5 starters: 10
Winners from top-10 starters: 12
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 2
Fastest race: 142.245 mph

Last 10 Daytona Qualifying Race Winners

2017 race 2 - Denny Hamlin
2017 race 1 - Chase Elliott
2016 race 2 - Kyle Busch
2016 race 1 - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015 race 2 - Jimmie Johnson
2015 race 1 - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2014 race 2 - Denny Hamlin
2014 race 1 - Matt Kenseth
2013 race 2 - Kyle Busch
2013 race 1 - Kevin Harvick

Last year, Chase Elliott nabbed the Daytona 500 pole in single-car qualifying, and then went on to win his qualifying race as well. His strategy of staying out front kept him clear from the potential trouble that can strike when running farther back in traffic. Other drivers have dropped to the rear of the field in the early going to give themselves time to slow down or stop should anything happen ahead. Either strategy works to preserve a car that is guaranteed a front-row start, but 19 other drivers in each of Thursday's races have a bit more to play for. Their finishing positions will ultimately determine where they start Sunday. Starting position at Daytona matters more than Talladega Superspeedway since handling is more of a factor on the narrower circuit. A Chevrolet and a Toyota have the two fastest single-car times, but it was Ford that dominated the Clash last weekend. Those results, as well as a handful of practice sessions throughout the last week, show that the playing field may be more level between the manufacturers than we've been used to. The edge Thursday is going to come down to power and the ability to draft. Fantasy players should seek drivers who stood out in practice, or have historically been among the top talent here and at Talladega.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Race 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,100
Joey Logano - $9,700
Ryan Blaney - $9,400
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, - $9,100
Kurt Busch - $8,600

DraftKings Race 1 Long-Shot Values

Alex Bowman - $8,300
William Byron - $7,700
Jamie McMurray - $7,600
Ty Dillon - $6,000

Race 1 Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,100
Ryan Blaney - $9,400
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,100
Kurt Busch - $8,600
Chris Buescher - $6,600
Ty Dillon - $6,000

The Penske Racing team's performance in last weekend's Clash earns Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney top billing in my lineup for the first qualifying race. We omit Joey Logano, but he is also a stout choice. However, the obvious play should be Blaney. He held station with his teammates throughout Sunday's event, and survived the wild last lap to come home fourth. There is no doubt he learned from that experience and will move higher Thursday. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was so good on the restrictor-plate circuits last season that he is also an obvious selection. His quick practice times also back up that perception. We can no longer say that Kurt Busch is the best restrictor-plate racer to have not won at the two tracks. He came home ahead of Blaney for last year's victory and his first Daytona 500 championship. Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher are the last two confident choices to round out the roster. Both drivers are competent racers at this track, and have a knack for being within striking distance at the finish. They will need to avoid any crashes in order to do that Thursday evening.

DraftKings Race 2 Values

Kyle Busch - $9,900
Chase Elliott - $9,800
Denny Hamlin - $9,500
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,100
Kyle Larson - $8,800

DraftKings Race 2 Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $8,200
Clint Bowyer - $7,800
Kasey Kahne - $7,200
Trevor Bayne - $6,700

Race 2 Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $9,900
Chase Elliott - $9,800
Kyle Larson - $9,100
Austin Dillon - $8,200
Trevor Bayne - $6,700
Danice Patrick - $6,300

Kyle Busch last won a Daytona qualifying race in 2016. He didn't have great luck at Daytona last year, but should be a threat given how quick he and his teammates have been. He expected more out of last week's Clash, but will apply those lessons Thursday. In contrast, Chase Elliott won't have much help. His teammates are all in the first race, which means Elliott will have to learn how to work independently to stay up front. He has experience doing that now, though. He is anticipated to make the playoffs again this season, but now everyone expects wins. One person getting more used to Victory Lane is Kyle Larson. He is typically a threat in races at Daytona and Talladega, but just needs to clean up his finishing record. Avoiding mistakes and crashes will be his key to a top finish. Like his brother in race No. 1, Austin Dillon has proven himself to be adept at racing in the draft. Richard Childress Racing has a history of outperforming expectations at these tracks, and Dillon's pace in practice shows we should expect the same again. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in 2011 and added another top-10 at the track in last year's race. Finally, Danica Patrick will make her last Daytona 500 start, but fantasy players will recognize her potential after claiming pole in 2013 and adding two top-10 finishes at the track in her 11 starts.

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.