Welcome to Left Turns – The NASCAR DFS picks write-up at Top Flight Fantasy Sports. It’s the first race of the season and we’re of course racing in Daytona for the Daytona 500. This will be a 200-lap race. Besides this article, we at Top Flight Fantasy Sports have the DraftKings NASCAR Control Tower & FanDuel NASCAR Control Tower putting tons of stats, projections, and proprietary grades in everyone’s hands. We also have a NASCAR DraftKings Optimizer & NASCAR FanDuel Optimizer that will be a huge help with all of the MME this season. And let’s be real about this – NASCAR is an MME sport. I know not everyone can play MME, so below I give you the plays I like best every week. You can use these plays as your core for MME as well.
Daytona 500 Race Details:
Type: Superspeedway (2.5 miles)
Time: Sunday, February 14, 2020 @ 3 pm EST
I’m excited to be back talking about racing again. Last season was interesting without practices and qualifying, but NASCAR is going to make every effort to have both this season for every race. We are of course starting the 2021 Monster Energy Cup season with the Daytona 500 and we have a ton of changes in NASCAR with returning drivers on different teams/cars, new faces to the series, crew chiefs & pit crew changes. I’ll note the key ones if I talk about them in the article.
The key to this race is to start drivers further back – plain and simple. Place Differential is the name of the game at these superspeedways and you’ll often hear people say to stack the back. I certainly won’t fault you for using some of the drivers at the front, as I’ll be doing the same. We haven’t had a race here without some sort of incident causing the guys in the back to make moves to the front after everyone else is DNF. There were 2 Duels races we can use as a reference from earlier this week, along with previous Daytona 500 races and at least 1 good practice and qualifying data for this one. We really don’t know how a lot of these drivers are going to fare this season with no current form data other than the Duel races.
These are your higher price drivers for NASCAR DFS. Depending on the race, and where they are starting, they are more than likely chalk.
I’m going to try and keep it simple this week, but I think these are going to be obvious names.
Denny Hamlin is going to see the highest ownership percentage on this slate, as anyone who has done even 3 seconds of research for this race will see that he’s won the last 2 Daytona 500 races. He’s going to be starting the race from the 25th position, meaning that he is a great PD play for us as well as meeting our criteria for starting in the back half of the pack.
I’m also looking Brad Keselowski‘s way this weekend as he is starting 24th for the Daytona 500. While not without his struggles, Keselowski did finish 5th here in 2018 in the summer race. He had more quality passes in the Duels earlier this week than any other driver in the field. This is going to be a much less popular play, but his PD upside will give him some ownership. I don’t want to look at the 2nd practice too much for this race as it was rain shortened, but he was looking good in the 1 lap he did run posting the fastest lap at that point. Keselowski will be going to the back of the pack to start the race.
The mid-range drivers for NASCAR DFS. These drivers have top 5 potential and will often see some decent ownership.
I think we have an obvious name in this group with Martin Truex Jr starting 26th. He’s also had a tough go of it in the Daytona 500 lately, but he does have the 2nd fastest lap in the full practice this weekend. He had and average 7th place in his Duel race earlier this week. MTJ is going to be a popular name I think as well, since the pricing for him is low based on the tough 2020 campaign, making him a great pairing with Hamlin. He will be going to the back of the pack for this race, and like Keselowski, this could benefit us by the end of the race.
Matt DiBenedetto is a name that stands out to me for the Daytona 500 as well. He’s sporting 3 top 10 finishes at this track in the last 10 races here and had a 12th fastest practice laps in the 1st practice. He also raced well in the Duel with a 7th place average in his race. MDB is going to start 23rd giving us good PD opportunity.
I hate to pay this much for him, but Ricky Stenhouse Jr has to be in the discussion when racing superspeedways. He’s won here before and while he’s known as someone who will undoubtedly wreck in most races, Stenhouse Jr. probably wrecks less here than most of the other drivers in the field. He starts 21st in this race.
Last driver I want to mention for this group is Aric Almirola. He’s starting 3rd, which I know is bucking the trend of starting the drivers in the back, but he’s driving a fast car, and if the wreck happens behind him he has a great opportunity to win his first Daytona 500. Almirola was dominating in his Duel race with a 1.7 average position, leading all but 8 laps in that race. He was good most of last season and looks like he’s going to try to carry that over here.
Your lower tier priced players on both sites. These guys more than likely won’t win the race. Here we will target drivers who will get us points through Place Differential for NASCAR DFS.
Chris Buescher starts 22nd and, to be honest, he is going to be one of my high % ownership drivers in this race. Buescher has 5 top 10 finishes at Daytona in the last 10 races here. That’s more than most of the drivers in the field and tremendously reliable for this type of race.
I’m going to look at Erik Jones in this weekend’s race too. Jones starts from the 31st position and he has a decent record here. In his 8 Daytona races, he has 1 win with 3 total top 10 finishes. He’s in a new ride with a new team moving from Toyotas to join Richard Petty Motorsports and drive the #43 Chevrolet. His car looks quick with an 11th fastest practice speed and a high PD potential. He will have to move to the back to start the race.
I think you have to consider Michael McDowell starting 17th as he’s completed more laps in the last 10 races here than any other driver, making him reliable and able to avoid wrecks. His 17th place starting position isn’t great, but he brings an average of a +14 PD at Daytona which is crazy in this type of track (average 13th finish – also 1st in the last 10 races), but really telling of how important it is to stack the back historically.
I’m going to look at the winner of the Xfinity 40th Annual Beef It’s What’s for Dinner 300 here at Daytona, Austin Cindric for the last spot in The Pack. Cindric is a Team Penske driver. Since these races tend to have some team implications, he could follow Keselowski to the top and with his driving skills.
The Yellow Flags
These are your deep punts – use with caution! They will help you fit the high-price drivers but may not do much more for NASCAR DFS. Minimize their use in your lineups. Do not use in cash!
Kaz Grala is the driver here for me this week. He’s starting 40th and can’t hurt you with place differential. He’s the youngest driver to even win a race at Daytona. Worth a shot!
Good luck and have fun but remember that NASCAR is an extremely volatile sport. Never go a full 100% on any driver.