NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Coke Zero Sugar 400

If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, 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 who crash out of the race is a must, of course!

Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview breaks down this week's venue, and we also have The Heat Check Fantasy Podcast, where Jim Sannes breaks down his favorite plays for Sunday's slate. Jim also has a current form and odds breakdown to review how NASCAR's best drivers are performing recently analytically.

Regular-season champion Kevin Harvick strangely had very little speed at Dover's first race of last weekend's doubleheader on Saturday, but crew chief Rodney Childers revealed to MRN Radio that the team had a trackbar moving on its own Saturday. With that part controlled, Harvick dominated Sunday, leading 223 laps for his seventh win in 2020. Harvick now enters the playoffs with a record 57 playoff points, but before he gets to use them to advance toward a championship, the field of 16 drivers will be finalized this weekend. This is the first cutoff event at Daytona International Speedway, which means this 2.5-mile superspeedway will lead to pack racing -- and potential chaos -- to determine who advances to NASCAR's postseason,

This race's lineup was determined using NASCAR's weighted formula that combines owner points, last Sunday's finish at Dover, and the fastest lap of each driver in that event, which put Kevin Harvick on the pole. Since pit stalls were selected solely by last week's finishing order, Harvick also has the premier pit stall choice for this weekend. There will be no applied PJ1 compound on the restrictor-plate style oval, where passing is no issue. The optimal strategy this weekend is to stack both team cars -- as they are likely to work and finish together -- and stack drivers starting toward the back of the pack, both to increase pass-differential upside and avoid severe consequences of crashes.

With that, let's preview the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.

High-Salaried Drivers

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($12,000): Nothing is normal at Daytona, and that is how the condition exists that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a cash-game play. Stenhouse was caught up in an accident-- surprisingly not of his doing -- last Sunday at Dover, where he crashed out and finished 38th. As a result, his weighted formula places him 31st on the starting grid, and his pass-differential potential makes him the highest-priced driver in the salary pool. Even if he was starting higher, Stenhouse was in consideration given his strong record on plate tracks. His only two career wins have been on this configuration, and he finished second at Talladega in June. He needs a win to make NASCAR's playoffs and should certainly factor into Saturday night's decision given his speed and expertise at Daytona.

Chase Elliott ($11,800): Chase Elliott also was caught up in that same accident at Dover and finished 39th last Sunday, so he starts 27th today, which is by far the lowest of any 2020 race winner. Elliott has a strong record at plate tracks, as well, with a 2019 Talladega win on his resume in addition to an exhibition race win at Daytona in 2018. Elliott also drives for Hendrick Motorsports, which has had strong speed at Daytona, sitting on the last five Daytona 500 pole positions. Elliott's car will be fast, he's had success on plate tracks, and he is certainly due. Elliott has only one top-15 finish in nine Daytona appearances despite leading 88 laps in those races.

Mid-Salaried Drivers

Erik Jones ($11,200): Erik Jones needs a win to make the playoffs and find a new ride. A dismal 2020 has lost him his 2021 spot at Joe Gibbs Racing, but a win on Saturday could undo a lot of the damage and give Jones and his team -- which has been fast -- a chance to run for the title. Jones has won a night race at Daytona before, doing just that in July 2018. In what seems forever ago now, Jones also won the Busch Clash exhibition event earlier this year at Daytona in February. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates are all in the playoffs and have plenty of plate track wins on their resume, and that should be of great assistance to him. He starts 20th, which gives him a nice floor-upside combination as someone with plenty of speed to win the race.

Michael McDowell ($9,800): Which is stranger this weekend -- the fact Michael McDowell is this expensive or that he is a great play at this price tag? McDowell has only two top-10 finishes this year but is aptly priced here given his 26th-place starting spot. That deep starting position is packaged with a strong record at plate tracks, as McDowell has top-15 finishes in five of the last eight points races at Daytona or Talladega. McDowell has also been running at the end of 14 of the last 16 plate races, so the Arizona native has a strange knack for keeping his car out of the big incidents at these tracks. His price may scare some, but he has earned it and is definitely a viable play.

Low-Salaried Drivers

Ty Dillon ($8,900): Dillon also sees a large price increase. He usually is cheaper than $6,000 on FanDuel but is strong on plate tracks. Dillon's record is even better than McDowell's, with nine top-15 finishes across the last 11 plate track points events. Dillon has also finished all but one of those races. Even with equipment that behind others on most weekends, Dillon clearly excels at this type of racing, where the draft can be an equalizer. He starts was back in 29th and has a strong argument for the most solid play on the entire slate.

Ryan Preece ($7,400): Plate racing came easy to Preece when he began his career last year with an eighth-place finish in his debut at the 2019 Daytona 500 and a third-place effort at Talladega in April in his next try. Preece has not quite had that same level of success since but has had three top-20 finishes in the other five plate events he has run. Preece led three laps at Talladega in June, as well, but perhaps his best upside is that he is the lone teammate of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., which makes him a great stacking option with one of the slate's core plays. Preece starts 28th, so he and his teammate can look to work their way forward together.

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.