NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Gander RV Duels at Daytona
Valentine's Day for most means chocolate, flowers, and roses for those you care about. This year, for race fans, it is the day of the year that feels like NASCAR is back in full force. The Gander RV Duels at Daytona will set the field for the 61st annual Great American Race, which, of course, is the Daytona 500.
From a fantasy perspective, the duels are always a captivating slate, with an added twist this year. On FanDuel, both duel races have been combined into one slate, and although this "multi-game" format will be a familiar feeling for many DFS players, it is a new one for NASCAR players.
In addition to that strategy change, this is a plate race that is a bit less of a wild card than other such events. No one wants to wreck in the duels and be forced to a backup car for the Daytona 500, so it is possible that drivers will not be as aggressive as usual.
For additional advice on the change in strategy because of the format, make sure to check out Jim Sannes's strategy article for the Gander RV Duels at Daytona.
With the lineups set, let's take a deep dive into the Gander RV Duels at Daytona:
Joey Logano ($12,300) and Ryan Blaney ($10,700): The unique format of the slate lends itself to a unique format to this article. These are races that provide only minimal upside with domination points (only 60 laps) and minimal place-differential upside (only 20 cars). The mix of cars in each duel provides another wrinkle. In each race, the teams are allocated pretty evenly. In each duel, there are two Rick Hendrick Racing cars, two Joe Gibbs Racing cars, two Stewart-Haas Racing cars, and two Penske Racing cars (including Paul Menard ($7,600), who drives for a satellite team).
As a result, there are no three- or four-car stacks of one team in a single duel that could all work together to clog up the front.
With that being the case, I'll throw out three of my favorite stacks of two with some one-offs for salary relief. The first is Penske's Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Penske has dominated plate tracks historically, and Menard dominated the Advance Auto Parts Clash on Sunday. Blaney, himself, paced the field in last year's Daytona 500 before a wreck, and Logano won at Talladega in April. I prefer this duo in the second duel slightly to Menard and Brad Keselowski ($12,000) in the first.
William Byron ($7,500) and Jimmie Johnson ($7,900): You could very easily stack all four Hendrick cars on FanDuel expecting a dominant night for the crew. The four were absolutely dominant in qualifying with Chase Elliott ($10,800) and Alex Bowman ($9,300) starting on the front row in their duel race, as well. Byron and Johnson will start out front, and if the Clash is any indication, patience appears to be the name of the game, and teams value safety and preservation over leading meaningless laps. I could very easily see the field following Byron around in the first race and Bowman in the second. Do not be afraid to leave salary on the table to get these ideal Hendrick stacks. It's worth noting, though, that Byron and Bowman are already locked into their starting spots and could play it safe as a result.
Kurt Busch ($10,300) and Kyle Larson ($8,300): Do I expect these Chip Ganassi Racing teammates to dominate the second over the likes of Elliott or Logano? Probably not. But this is a fun stack for multiple reasons. First, you can get 100 percent CGR exposure in the same race by stacking the pair with Jamie McMurray ($5,600) in a partner car at what should be lower ownership. Second, Chevrolet has been incredibly impressive during Speedweeks, and this trio would benefit from a continuation of that. Third, there is legitimate place-differential upside to cars that can win the race, and Larson starts 16th while Busch starts 10th.
This is the other side of the coin to a domination stack like the first two that still has some domination upside. They can be stacked with expensive Penske cars and use more salary, which in itself may be a contrarian play.
Kevin Harvick ($11,600): Harvick is a threat whenever he shows up to the race track, and that is no different at Daytona. He drew Daniel Suarez ($7,200) as his teammate in the race, and Suarez has yet to show the plate prowess of his other teammates. While I'm not in love with Suarez, Harvick's Mustang appears fast, and he has a great floor starting eighth in his duel. Harvick could end up teaming with the other fast Fords of Keselowski, Menard, and even Suarez in his duel should they find a way past the Hendrick guys.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($10,000): Stenhouse had a bittersweet last visit to Daytona. He was the class of the field, cruising to a pair of stage wins in July. Unfortunately, he was also directly responsible for three wrecks, including one that took him out of contention for the win. Nevertheless, he also owns two career plate wins, and that speed is a constant. And, in what could be a passive race, Stenhouse may be one of the few aggressors. With place-differential upside from 10th in the first duel, Stenhouse is a quality way to use spare salary.
Ryan Newman ($6,900): They do not come much steadier than Ryan Newman on plate tracks. Before a crash in the October race at Talladega last year, he had four straight top 10s at these tracks. This year, he flips over to a Roush Fenway Ford as a teammate of Stenhouse. They're in the same duel, so it could could potentially be a stack worth investigating, as well. Newman starts a deep 13th, and I expect he should slowly advance from there. Low-salary place differential is a safe cash-game strategy with many DFS players averse to leaving a large amount of salary on the table.
Jamie McMurray ($5,600): Jamie Mac is looking to find lightning in a bottle in his final run at the Daytona 500. I already mentioned him earlier in the only full team stack in either duel with Chip Ganassi Racing. If they were to find the front, that type of extra car advantage would be difficult to get past unless manufactures begin to team together. Even if you do not buy into a CGR plate stack, which is totally fair with Larson having only a single top 10 in two years on them, McMurray is dirt cheap with an extremely high floor and could compliment a Hendrick stack, as well.
It is important to balance your lineups to have shared distribution of each duel race. Philosophically, a "race stack" would not work like a game stack in football or basketball. There is no real overtime, only one person can lead laps, and points on place differential are accrued by lowering other drivers' finishing-point totals. A "race stack" seems like a grave mistake, so whichever stack you decide to take, make sure to compliment it with drivers in the other duel.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.