Another week, another race. Here we’ll break down all the most important Daily Fantasy NASCAR information in order to drive your success! The information is not developed or provided by NASCAR, Inc., or its affiliates.
TOP 5 FAVORITES TO WIN
1. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – $10,300 – Don’t pick against Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at restrictor plate tracks. Sure, fading Junior at Daytona worked, but twice? No way. Junior has 10 plate wins; that’s twice as many as the driver with the second most plate wins. His 54% top 10 rate at plate races ranks number one. Last year, he won the Spring Talladega race, then the Summer Daytona race and then finished second at the Fall Talladega race (technically, he should have won, but NASCAR canceled the last restart). Plate races are tricky and stats can be misleading. One thing is certain, Junior will be the most comfortable and confident driver when the green flag drops. Most drivers just want to avoid a wreck and have a decent day. Junior expects to win.
2. Denny Hamlin – $10,000 – If it weren’t for Dale Jr., Denny Hamlin would be king. Maybe not king, but he’s definitely the prince of plate races. Hamlin doesn’t have a lot of plate wins. The Daytona 500 was just his second plate win (not counting duel races and unlimited races). Wins at plate races are not the best indicator of restrictor plate racing skill. Top 10 and top 20 finishes paint the best picture. Hamlin has finished inside the top 10 in 7 of the last 9 plate races.
“The last 5 Talladega winners all ran inside the top 15 for at least 80 percent of the race”
3. Joey Logano – $9,600 – Two plate race victories during one season is a thing. When Junior won two plate races last year, he was praised as one of the greatest of all time. Shouldn’t Joey Logano receive similar accolades? Logano is 8 plate wins behind Junior, but it appears that he’s figured it out. The plan is to run up front all day. The last 5 Talladega winners all ran inside the top 15 for at least 80% of the race. In Logano’s two plate wins (2015), he ran inside the the top 15 for 95.4% at Talladega and 99.5% at Daytona. Logano finished 6th in this year’s Daytona 500.
4. Kevin Harvick – $9,400 – He’s a winner. He may not always cross the finish line in first, but Harvick runs up front every week. At Talladega, it’s best to play drivers that run up front; drivers that are safe from the chaos and carnage. It’s hard to pick a winner, but it’s slightly easier to pick drivers that will avoid “the big one.” Harvick has finished 15th or better in the last 5 Talladega races. At plate races, he has finished inside the top 15 in 9 of the last 11 (median finish of 8th over that span – due to the chaotic nature of plate races and the aberrant finishes at Talladega median is a more useful tool than average this week).
5. Martin Truex, Jr. – $8,900 – How can a driver that has zero wins in 44 plate races be a favorite? Truex’s career plate stats are not spectacular, but Truex might be the best plate racer at the moment. Truex has scored 70 points or more in 3 of the last 4 plate races. It’s hard for a driver to score 70 points at a plate race. Let alone, do it three times. How did Truex do it? He overcame the impossible challenge of drafting from the back to the front. Hamlin and Earnhardt, Jr. will be showered with praise this week, but how hard is it to race up front? Truex was a split second from winning the Daytona 500, but the more remarkable feat was that Truex started 28th, but ran the 3rd most laps inside the top 15 (93%). If we’re picking based on cars and not drivers, then the 78 car is number one at Talladega.
LONG SHOTS TO SCORE BIG
1. Regan Smith – $5,900 – Coming into the Daytona 500, Regan Smith had great plate stats. The concern was that the stats were based on sporadic races over the course of several years with multiple teams. It didn’t matter; Smith finished 8th and scored the 4th most fantasy points. Smith has 4 top 10s in his last 5 plate races (the one non-top 10 was a 16th place finish).
2. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – $6,900 – This has become a routine write up. I reveal that Stenhouse avoids wrecks at a track where everyone else wrecks. Readers shake their heads and say, “a wreck is coming.” Stenhouse avoids the wrecks, and I will write the exact same thing in the next cheat sheet. In 5 Talladega races, Stenhouse’s worst finish is 26th and his median finish is 9th.
3. Tony Stewart – $8,200 – Everyone is a dark horse this week. While everyone has a chance to win, there are a couple long shots that have actually done it. Stewart has 5 plate wins (2nd best). When the laps tick down, who do you want: an inexperienced, anxiety ridden long shot, or a guy that has been there before? Stewart approaches these races the same. He’ll hang out in the back trying to avoid “the big one,” then make a charge at the end. This plate racing method has produced mixed results, but Tony won with this style at Daytona in the summer of 2012.
Carl Edwards – $10,100 – After back-to-backs wins, Carl Edwards is now the Sprint Cup points leader.
Kyle Busch – $9,200 – Bristol is a distant memory. Only Kyle, Kevin and Carl have two 100 fantasy point races this season.
Kevin Harvick – $9,400 – The wins may not be coming, but the car is fast and it scores fantasy points. Harvick has over 80 fantasy points in 6 of 9 races this season.
Joey Logano (Fall 2015)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Spring 2015)
Brad Keselowski (Fall 2014)
Denny Hamlin (Spring 2014)
Jamie McMurray (Fall 2013)
PICK TO WIN
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – $10,300 – This is the king of restrictor plate tracks. Nobody does it better.