Coke Zero 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fantasy Live / Fox: Quick Picks
The Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway this weekend, and if you thought last weekend's road course race was tough to build a lineup for at DraftKings, then Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 will be downright impossible.
With the race schedule for 160 laps, the numbers of points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories are already low relative to most tracks. Throw in the pack racing that goes on, and you might as well throw out the fastest laps run category altogether.
The laps led category can be a decent source of points, but with the big wrecks that always seem to take out a large chunk of the field, even the driver that leads the most laps could end up in the garage before the race is over. In fact, finishing position, in general, is extremely tough to predict in general at Daytona.
Given the unpredictability of the racing at Daytona, your best bet for building a successful lineup is to focus solely on place differential. Between the wrecks and the restrictor plates, moving through the field at Daytona is relatively easy. In this year's Daytona 500, three drivers that started outside the top 20 finished in the top 10, and three drivers that started 34th or worse finished in the top 15.
Plus, picking drivers that start in the back has a double benefit. In addition to having the most points to gain through place differential, drivers starting in the back have the least points to lose. There is a high probability that at least one of your drivers is going to be caught up in a wreck. If that driver is starting deep in the field, you still have a chance at a solid score. If that driver is starting in the top five, you are going to saddle yourself with a big negative number.
The bottom line is that starting position is the most important element to consider when selecting a driver for Saturday's race. In fact, qualifying is so important that I'm not even including any drivers to avoid because any driver that starts deep enough in the field is worth considering.
In the meantime, I've included some drivers to keep in mind heading into this weekend's activities. Qualifying is set for 4:00 p.m. ET Friday, and the Coke Zero 400 is slated for Saturday at 7:45 p.m. ET on NBC.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($10,600)
Junior has been one of the few drivers that has been able to stay consistently up front at restrictor-plate tracks. His 382 laps led over the last ten plate races are the most in the series, and he has led at least 15 laps eight times and more than 30 laps five times during the same stretch. Junior also leads all drivers with a 10.1 average finish over the last ten races at Daytona.