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 below is provided by DraftKings. The information is not developed or provided by NASCAR, Inc., or its affiliates.
TOP 5 FAVORITES TO WIN
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The Sprint Unlimited is not a typical restrictor plate race. If it were, then take Junior and move on, but it’s a 75 lap shootout with zero season points on the line. Daytona is already an erratic race. The Unlimited amplifies the mayhem by fielding a pool of capricious drivers with nothing to lose. Junior won this race in 2008 and 2003, and he owned the plate races last season. He probably won’t risk driving the chassis that dominated Daytona last year (“Amelia”), but at plate races, he could compete in a Pinto.
2. Kevin Harvick – The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup runner up finish should not have been a surprise. Last season, Harvick set the NASCAR record for the most second place finishes in a season. Harvick has been the best Sprint Cup driver over the last two years with a level of consistency unparalleled by any other driver. Harvick’s three plate wins are slightly above average, but his three Sprint Unlimited wins ranks 1st.
3. Joey Logano – Earnhardt Jr. may be the restrictor plate track whisperer, but Logano won at Daytona and Talladega last season. Logano emerged as a top 5 driver last season, and he should only improve this season. He may struggle when the new low downforce package is implemented, but Daytona will be the same style as always.
4. Jimmie Johnson – In exhibition races with altered rules, it always pays to value ingenuity. If there is a way to game the system, then Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus will find it. The Sprint Unlimited isn’t as wacky as the All-Star race, but never dismiss the 48 Lowe’s team. Hendrick Chevys have dominated plate races throughout the years, and Johnson is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2015.
5. Denny Hamlin – If you calculate the driver rating for the last four Daytona races and the last two Talladega races, Hamlin is the second best plate driver with a rating of 102.0 (Earnhardt Jr. has a 114.8). It’s surprising that Hamlin only has one plate track win. In nonpoint plate races, Hamlin has four wins. His exceptional racing over the last two years has not resulted in wins, but 6 top 10s at a track with the most variance on the circuit is amazing. Finally, don’t worry about the 39th at Talladega in the fall. He once again avoided “the big one,” but his day was ruined by a latch problem that plagued his season.
LONG SHOTS TO SCORE BIG
1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – First of all, the starting grid for the Sprint Unlimited is set by a random drawing, not qualifying. If the longshots draw a high starting position, they’ll lose almost all of their value. Ricky has never won a plate race, his 33% top 10 finish rate is average, but when it comes to top 20s, his 75% rate is the highest in NASCAR. The art of plate racing is staying safe, and one of these days Stenhouse will cross the finish line first.
2. Casey Mears – It’s common for the small team drivers to be overlooked, and Mears is at the top of the list when it comes to underrated, overlooked drivers. Mears has finished inside the top 20 in 6 of the last 8 plate races with an average finish on 14.25. The key to winning the DraftKings Sprint Unlimited is picking 6 drivers that make it to the finish line, and statistically, Mears is a safe pick.
3. Austin Dillon – Everyone remembers Austin Dillon flying into the grandstands at Daytona, but does everyone remember that he finished 7th? Since becoming a full time Sprint Cup driver, Dillon only has one DNF at plate races. In the other seven races, Dillon is averaging an 11th place finish.
Joey Logano – 2015 was all about Logano. From Daytona to Homestead, he was the story. He didn’t win the championship, but 6 wins and 22 top 5s puts him in the elite company.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Over the next two weeks there will be a lot of talk about Junior’s restrictor plate excellence. Unfortunately, the 88 is often dismissed as purely a plate track racer. Earnhardt Jr. has topped the 20 top 10s mark in each of the last 4 seasons and he had the third most top 5s last season (16).
Kevin Harvick – The Stewart-Haas 4 car has dominated NASCAR over the last two seasons. It’s hard to imagine that this car will suddenly lose all of its speed.
Below are the four most recent winners at this race
2015 – Matt Kenseth
2014 – Denny Hamlin
2013 – Kevin Harvick
2012 – Kyle Busch
PICK TO WIN
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – There are a few hard-and-fast DFS NASCAR rules. One is never pick against Junior at a plate race.