NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: The Advance Auto Parts Clash

Aric Almirola is starting deep in the pack for Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash and has a history of mopping up on restrictor-plate tracks. Which other drivers should we target in NASCAR DFS?

The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season unofficially gets underway this afternoon at Daytona International Speedway with The Advance Auto Parts Clash, an exhibition race where only 20 drivers get the invite to compete.

Because it's Daytona, we can toss out all practice data from the week and just focus on qualifying after teams drew for their starting spots last night. Here, you want to largely target drivers starting in the back because it gives them additional upside for place-differential points. With 75 laps in the race, there are only 7.5 points available for laps led, based on FanDuel's scoring rules. We're stacking the back when possible.

But we also need to find drivers capable of winning the race. Over the past five Clashes, the winning driver has also scored the most points fo the race, regardless of where they have started. This allows us to pick a driver we think will win and then build from there, prioritizing drivers starting further back.

Once we consider all of this, who should we target Sunday for the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona? Let's check it out.

High-Salaried Drivers

Denny Hamlin (FanDuel Salary: $11,200): Due to an incident in practice, Denny Hamlin will have to start at the rear of the field Sunday as he moves to a backup car. Thankfully for him, the back isn't far from the qualifying spot he drew Saturday night as his official starting spot will be 17th. That means we get to count his place differential from that spot, which is huge for his DFS upside. Hamlin has more top 10s in the past 10 Daytona races than all but one driver, including a third in last year's Daytona 500. Even in the backup car, he's a strong play on Sunday.

Chase Elliott ($11,000): The other driver joining Hamlin in a backup car Sunday is Chase Elliott, whose official starting position is 16th. His rationale is right along the same lines as Hamlin. The only difference is that Elliott has never had a top-10 finish at Daytona, finishing outside the top 20 in 5 of 6 career races. Elliott was third in last year's spring Talladega race, so he's not a complete dud on restrictor plates, and his starting position gives him a major DFS advantage. We should be willing to overlook his lackluster history here as a result.

Mid-Salaried Drivers

Aric Almirola ($9,300): Aric Almirola is starting 18th, which essentially makes him a no-brainer once you consider his restrictor-plate history. Almirola is the most recent winner on one of these tracks, grabbing the checkered flag in the fall Talladega race. He got his first career win in the Cup Series back in 2014 at Daytona and was fourth in the 2017 fall race. Almirola had a shot to be last year's Daytona 500 champion, but a last-lap crash sent him back to 11th. Almirola should be in contention to avenge that defeat today.

Clint Bowyer ($9,100): Almirola's teammate, Clint Bowyer, may be able to help him work his way to the front from the back. The Stewart-Haas Racing cars teamed up on the field in Talladega and essentially played the pied pipers for the entire day, eventually getting Almirola the win and Bowyer a second-place finish. Bowyer also finished second in the 2017 summer Daytona race and has five total top 10s in his past 10 races here. If last year was any indication, targeting Fords is a bit of a cheat code on restrictor plates, and Bowyer and Almirola allow you to do so without leaving the back of the pack.

Low-Salaried Drivers

Erik Jones ($7,400): Erik Jones is starting dead last for this race, which is huge by itself. It looks even better when you consider that Jones is the guy who has won at Daytona most recently, edging out Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500) in the July race. In his four career Daytona races, Jones has either finished in the top 10 or crashed, but the downsides of wrecking are much lower when you're starting this far back. Jones is a great play in all formats, even if you wind up leaving a little salary on the table to get him.

Jimmie Johnson ($8,200): There's a reason that Jimmie Johnson's salary is this low this weekend: he has been awful at Daytona recently. He has crashed out of four of his past five races at Daytona, and he has failed to finish The Clash for seven consecutive years. But he's starting 13th for this rendition, which isn't bad, and Johnson has had a top-15 average running position in two of the past three Daytona races. If Johnson's luck turns around today, it could lead to a big day for DFS with how low in the order he's starting. Daniel Suarez ($7,000) and Jamie McMurray ($5,700) are two others you could consider to save some salary.