Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
While DFS NASCAR returned last weekend with the Clash at Daytona, the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season officially begins this Sunday with the 59th running of the Daytona 500.
There's some big money up for grabs at DraftKings for NASCAR's biggest race, and before you lock in your lineups, I have some final picks and lineup strategies for the Daytona 500.
In general, I'm going to heavily target drivers starting in the rear of the field. However, I think you will need to make some tweaks to that strategy if you plan on taking down a large tournament.
Several of the favorites to win the Daytona 500 are starting up front, and I think at least one of them will be among the top scorers. There are also many appealing options starting in the middle of the pack, rather than way in the back. These mid-pack drivers should have lighter ownership, and one of them could be the key to a tournament win.
Top Cash Game Plays
Jimmie Johnson ($10,000)
It has been a horrible Speedweeks for Johnson so far, and there is a chance that could drive his ownership down just a bit. Even if he is a popular pick, he still projects as an excellent cash game play. Johnson's 24th-place starting position minimizes his risk, and he has five Top 5 finishes in his last eight starts at Daytona, including a pair of wins.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,000)
Starting back in the 35th spot, Truex is almost guaranteed to finish with a positive place differential. In last year's Daytona 500, he was one of the top scorers, gaining 26 spots on his way to a second-place finish. He has even more upside this time around to go along with one of the safest floors.
Erik Jones ($8,300)
Don't let the fact that he is a rookie scare you. Jones has the talent and equipment to succeed immediately. More importantly, he starts 34th so he has nothing but upside in the place differential category.
Ryan Blaney ($7,300)
He is starting back in 36th, so you don't have to worry about Blaney losing you a lot of points if he has trouble. More importantly, I think he has the car to surge to the front. Blaney had one of the strongest cars in his qualifying race before being involved in a minor accident, and I expect him to be one of the biggest movers Sunday.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,700)
The fact that he starts 38th is enough to make him one of the top value plays, and Allmendinger has also shown a knack for moving through the field at plate tracks. Last year, he gained 48 total spots over four plate races, logging three Top 15s.
Elliott Sadler ($6,600)
Place differential is the most important category this weekend, and Sadler is in the best position of any driver to capitalize. Starting dead last, it's impossible for him lose any points in the category, and no driver has more upside. The veteran has been a solid plate racer throughout his career, so he is capable of working his way towards the front.
Top Tournament Plays
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($10,600)
Junior doesn't seem rusty despite missing the second half of last season. He led 53 of the 60 laps in his qualifying race, and the most decorated restrictor-plate driver in the sport today looks poised to add to his resume. Starting on the front row makes him a ticking time bomb in cash games, but if he goes out and wins another Daytona 500, you will want some exposure in GPPs.
Brad Keselowski ($10,300)
He was the man at restrictor-plate tracks in 2016, winning twice and leading 40-plus laps in three of the four races. Keselowksi has flexed his muscle again during Speedweeks, and while the place differential category could burn him, he could also dominate Sunday's race.
Denny Hamlin ($9,600)
Hamlin will be going for back-to-back Daytona 500 wins this weekend, and after winning his qualifying race, he appears to have a car capable of doing just that. Starting up front makes him a high-risk, high-reward play, but Hamlin could still post a big score by leading a lot of laps, logging some points in the first two segments and delivering a strong finish.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,000)
Stenhouse has been a solid restrictor-plate racer since joining the Cup Series, and he closed last season with Top 5 finishes at Daytona in July and Talladega in the fall. He starts in the middle of the pack, so I think he will be overlooked with several other decent options starting even deeper. Meanwhile, he still has decent upside through place differential.
Brendan Gaughan ($5,100)
While Elliott Sadler is likely to be the popular sleeper play among the drivers starting in the back, Gaughan could be an effective contrarian. He starts 39th, so he basically has identical upside to Sadler. Meanwhile, his journeyman status could hold his ownership down.
Drivers to Fade
Chase Elliott ($9,200)
Elliott has been impressive throughout Speedweeks, and despite winning the pole and winning his qualifying race, I am still hesitant. I can't help but remember last season's Daytona 500 when Elliott also started on the pole but ended up with a negative point total after finishing 37th. If I'm going to roll the dice on a driver starting up front, it's going to on one of the big names with a proven track record at plate tracks.
Clint Bowyer ($7,800)
I normally love Bowyer as a plate track option, but he is on the wrong end of the place differential situation this weekend. Starting sixth, he is likely to finish with a negative place differential, even if he has a decent run. If he wrecks, he is going to destroy your lineup.
Danica Patrick ($6,500)
Patrick has enjoyed a solid start to Speedweeks, but the fact that she starts 12th basically destroys her value. A Top 10 is the absolute best-case scenario, and even then, there are going be several drivers starting deeper in the field who post bigger scores. Meanwhile, she is going to end up with a negative score if she crashes.
My Favorite DraftKings Cash Game Lineup
- Martin Truex Jr. ($9,000)
- Erik Jones ($8,300)
- Ryan Blaney ($7,300)
- A.J. Allmendinger ($6,700)
- Elliott Sadler ($6,600)
- Chris Buescher ($6,400)
Checkers-or-Wreckers GPP Lineup
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($10,600)
- Jimmie Johnson ($10,000)
- Kyle Busch ($9,400)
- Kasey Kahne ($7,600)
- Paul Menard ($7,200)
- Brendan Gaughan ($5,100)