Coke Zero 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fantasy Live / Fox: Quick Picks
If you are hoping to cash in playing DFS NASCAR at DraftKings this weekend, you need to be prepared to adjust the typical formula for success.
Thanks to the restrictor plates used at Daytona International Speedway and the pack racing they create, you can throw the fastest laps run category out the window. It's useless. Finishing position isn't much easier to predict with multi-car wrecks taking out chunks of the field at a time, and even the laps led category is minimized both by the 160-lap format of the race and the ever-changing running order.
What's left is the place differential category, and at Daytona, it is the smartest and most productive category to focus on when building your lineup. By loading up on drivers starting deep in the field you not only maximize the points you can gain through place differential, but you also minimize the points you can lose.
If you pick a driver that starts outside the top 30 and they wreck, there is a good chance they could still finish with positive points or at least break even. At that point, you still have an opportunity to post a decent score. If you pick a driver starting in the top five and they wreck, you could lose 20-plus points and have little chance to recover.
Case in point, my lineup finished in the money at Talladega in the spring, and two of my six drivers weren't even running at the finish.
Trying to pick which drivers will dodge the wrecks and finish at the front at a plate race is next to impossible, but if you hit on a couple of drivers that gain a lot of spots and avoid negative point totals, you are going to give yourself a chance.
Be sure to get your lineups locked in at DraftKings, and check out the Coke Zero 400 Saturday at 7:45 p.m. ET on NBC.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($10,600): As unpredictable as plate racing can be, Junior has been the one driver that has been able to consistently stay out front. Over the last ten plate races, his three wins and 382 laps led are the most of any driver, and he has led 15 or more laps eight times during the stretch, leading more than 30 laps six times. He also has some room to gain points in the place differential category after qualifying 16th, so the potential for a big point total is there. In cash games, Junior is a must-start option, but his overwhelming popularity makes him a candidate to fade in GPPs.
Kevin Harvick ($10,300): His 11.6 average finish in the last ten plate races is the second best in the series, and Harvick has finished fourth or better in his last three starts at Daytona. Starting 21st, he has the most to gain through place differential among the big names. His safe floor and high ceiling make him a strong option in all formats, especially cash games.
Denny Hamlin (9,800): Picking a driver starting in the top 10 at a plate track is risky, and if Hamlin wrecks after qualifying ninth, he is going to kill your lineup. On the flip side, Hamlin has five straight finishes of sixth or better at Daytona, and he led a race-high 95 laps in his Daytona 500 win earlier this year. He could easily dominate Saturday night again, and the fact that he is more of a high-risk, high-reward option makes Hamlin a great building block in GPPs.