NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Daytona 500
If you are looking for an action-packed way to replace the NFL in the world of daily fantasy, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers that crash out of the race is a must, of course!
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Every week, in addition to this helper, we have a betting guide to discuss the smartest places to lay money for this weekend's race, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this slate. We also have a track preview and driver preview to dive deeper into this weekend's action.
Arguably the most famed race in all of motorsports, 40 drivers will take to the high banks of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway for the 62nd running of the Daytona 500. The racing style created at Daytona means speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour with a tight pack of cars constantly beating bumpers together to create momentum for passing. What else this means, of course, is plenty of wrecks occur when the bumping goes wrong, and with the cars so close, nearly every race at Daytona has an accident aptly named "The Big One" that involves several cars.
The starting lineup for this race was set in Thursday's twin qualifying races, won by Joey Logano and William Byron, and therefore those two make up the third and fourth starting spots. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman were locked onto the front row from time trial qualifying last Sunday. Although practices at Daytona have less importance than other tracks, the first and second practices run after the duels on Saturday are a peek into how teams are tuning their vehicles for the main event.
Here's a DFS breakdown of this weekend's Daytona 500 slate on FanDuel.
Higher Priced Drivers
Kyle Busch ($14,000): The most expensive driver in the pool is "Rowdy," and his duel result makes him well worth his price tag. Busch led three laps and ran second behind Kevin Harvick for much of his duel race Thursday and was shuffled toward the back as the action finished. From a daily fantasy perspective, that is not the worst thing for him, as it lowers his starting position to 28th. At a place as wild as Daytona, a lower starting spot increases place-differential upside and can help avoid negative place differential in the event of a crash. Busch has two top-five showings in his last four attempts at "The Great American Race," but buyer beware -- he will be very popular in tournaments.
Denny Hamlin ($13,000): The defending winner of the Daytona 500 also had a subpar duel result and will start a deeper 21st in the field. Hamlin is undoubtedly one of the strongest pack racers in the field, posting eight top-fives at Daytona in his illustrious career, including two wins in the 500. He had noticeable speed in the Busch Clash last Sunday, pushing teammate Erik Jones to the win, and the fact he is Kyle Busch's teammate makes the pair a great stacking option because teammates are more likely to work together in the draft and push up toward the front.
Chase Elliott ($12,200): Chase Elliott's problem at Daytona has never been starting well as he has earned points in Stage 1 of the last four events here. He has also failed to finish all of those races, which is problematic, but there is an element of luck to staying out of an accident. Elliott's duel result was bad, as well, but for good reason, as all three of his other teammates were in the other duel as Elliott finished a pedestrian 13th. He starts 25th as a result and could be a lower-owned pivot off of the aforementioned Joe Gibbs Racing cars, even despite a history of pack-racing success, as he won at Daytona's sister track, Talladega, last April.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000): The formula for Blaney throughout this speedweek has been there -- his luck has not. His teammate, Brad Keselowski, led the most laps in the Busch Clash, and Blaney crashed out of the event. Teammate Joey Logano won his duel race, and Blaney crashed in that race, as well. Perhaps the timing is right for Blaney in the main event, as he is starting much further back (27th) and is a much more cost-efficient option than either Keselowski or Logano, but he still holds that Penske Racing speed that has dominated this trip to Daytona. Blaney led 118 of 250 laps in 2018's race, so he has shown the ability to contend for a win before.
Lower Priced Drivers
Clint Bowyer ($9,000): The random element to pack racing makes a stars-and-scrubs approach enticing, but Bowyer is a great mid-range option. He finished third in the Clash, which was more of a testament to attrition than speed, but he still carries that momentum into Sunday's race. He flashed speed in his duel, leading seven laps, but he was penalized for avoiding a wreck and coming down a closed pit road entry. That means the Kansas native will roll off 29th, helping his DFS floor, and he absolutely has the speed to cross the line first.
Chris Buescher ($7,300): Chris Buescher is quietly a great restrictor-plate racer, as he posted top-five finishes at Daytona in both races last year. He moves to a Ford affiliation for 2020, meaning he will have a link with several fast cars mentioned already in this helper, like Bowyer and Blaney. Ryan Newman, a teammate of Buescher's, finished third in his duel race, but Buescher's lackluster result raises his floor, as he will start 19th (compared to Newman in 7th). Buescher is a cheap option, but he's about as cheap as you may want to go when looking for drivers who legitimately can win the event.
Justin Haley ($4,500): Justin Haley would not have been in the category of "drivers who can legitimately win the event" heading into last July's Daytona race, but weather shuffled the order, and Haley took a gamble with rain on the way and earned his first career win in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. That was for a terribly underfunded Spire Motorsports team, but this entry is with well known Xfinity Series team Kaulig Racing in their first cup attempt. The team has had good results in NASCAR's minor league, in part due to their affiliation with Richard Childress Racing (RCR). Haley has RCR equipment for this event and is an incredibly solid plate racer who is starting 33rd at a super affordable price. If you're looking to jam in studs, Haley comes in handy.
Brendan Gaughan ($2,500): Digging deep into the bargain bin, Brendan Gaughan finds himself only $500 above minimum. Gaughan is no-back marker, however, as he has a distant RCR alliance like Haley does, and he posted a competitive 10th in the final practice. Last October at Talladega, Gaughan was actually inside the top five before a giant crash, and he really runs inside the cup series only for pack races at Daytona and Talladega. Starting 39th, the floor is as good as it gets, and he frees up a lot of cash for the rest of your lineup.
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.