Who’s Rising?

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1. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($10,300) – It’s hard to imagine Junior’s stock could have risen any higher, but it has. The 88 car put on a show during Thursday night’s Duel Race 1. Earnhardt, Jr. was never passed while leading on the track, and twice he made skillful moves to get by the leader and take the lead. Earnhardt, Jr. sent a message to the rest of the field Thursday night.

2. Ryan Newman ($7.500) – In Wednesday night’s practice, Newman suffered damage in a multiple car wreck. That damage carried over to the Duel race and Newman retired from the race after just 31 laps. How can misfortune increase value? It’s all about place differential points at Daytona. Newman’s ceiling is 80!

3 Jamie McMurray ($7,900) – Although it has been awhile since Jamie Mac has won at a plate race, he proved Thursday night that he’s still got it. He couldn’t quite make the final move for the win, but his patience paid off and he finished 2nd. This is a great price for a quality plate racer.

4. Kevin Harvick ($9,800) – Driver interviews can be a source for Daily Fantasy NASCAR knowledge. Harvick says this is the best restrictor plate car that he’s had in years, and on Thursday night he showed it off. Harvick drove from last to fourth.

5. Brad Keselowski ($9,200) – Don’t be fooled by finishing position. BK may have finished 13th in his Duel race, but his average running position during the race was 5th. This is exactly what you want for DFS purposes. Keselowski looks strong and is starting in a prime point differential spot (25th). A 10th place finish finish would be a 49 fantasy point day.

Who’s Dropping?

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1. Matt Kenseth ($9,000) – The #20 Toyota Camry looked good in the Duel race, but after Kenseth’s wrecked, it didn’t look so good. Kenseth will go to a backup car on Sunday. This means he’ll start from the back, but statistically he’ll still be scored from the second starting position. That’s right, Kenseth will start the big race with around -35 points.

2. Chase Elliott ($8,500) – Thursday night’s Duel race was a Litmus test for Chase and he failed. He didn’t bomb it, but he failed. When Dale Jr. buzzed by him on the third lap of the race it became clear that Elliott only had one place to go – backwards. He’s not going to lead a worthwhile amount of laps and he can only score negative place differential points. His ceiling is around 40, but his floor is subzero.

3. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,100) – This play is not dead. A top 10 in the Duel race once again proves that Ricky finishes plate races. The problem for DFS players is Stenhouse’s starting position. His place differential points will be limited. His ceiling of around 40 total fantasy points isn’t that appealing at his price.

4. Jimmie Johnson ($9,900) – It’s tough to consider the Dale Jr. and Jimmie combo play. It would not be unheard of for Johnson to make his way to the front of the field, but it’s no small task. One positive coming from Jimmie’s Duel race wreck is that he’ll be scored from 26th, so he’ll only start the race with -10 points. Theoretically, with Johnson’s stock dropping, his ownership should as well, but Johnson has morphed into a different play. As a place differential play, he has homerun potential and this will likely drive his ownership up.

5. Trevor Bayne ($6,900) – The Roush Fenway Fords have been working together in the Sprint Unlimited and their Duel race. That’s a good sign for the big race this Sunday. However, just like Stenhouse, starting towards the front doesn’t work for Bayne. This pick has a low ceiling and is highly volatile.