Hamlin and Busch

Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday’s race at Daytona International Speedway. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.

(FPPK = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.)


1. Joey Logano ($10,500) – Being the best plate racer in NASCAR requires an uncertain amount of skill and luck. DFS players routinely roster Logano because of his skill (six top-5 finishes and three wins at Talladega in the last four years), but he’s not a lock because of luck (three DNFs in the last five races at Daytona). (4.4 FPPK)

2. Denny Hamlin ($10,400) – The 2019 Daytona 500 winner also finished 3rd in the fall Talladega race. Guess how his other two plate races went? That’s right; they were DNFs. Two top 5s and two DNFs is a great year at the plate tracks. (5.1 FPPK)

3. Ryan Blaney ($9,300) – Plate racing wrecks torment DFS players, but that’s not all. These races often come down to a matter of inches. Ryan Blaney won the fall 2019 Talladega race by a sliver of a splitter. Imagine the massive heart attack the GPP-winner suffered. (4.2 FPPK)

4. Kurt Busch ($9,100) – He’s earned five top 10s in the last 12 plate races, the rest are not so good. A 41% top-10 rate might not seem that great, but the average top 10 rate is 20%. (3.9 FPPK)

5. Chase Elliott ($10,000) – He has three top 10s including a win in the last four races at Talladega. At Daytona, he has three DNFs and a best finish of 17th in the last four races. Daytona and Talladega are both drafting races, but Daytona tends to be more volatile. (3.8 FPPK)

6. Aric Almirola ($8,500) – Talladega and Daytona are not the same. Almirola has earned seven consecutive top 10s at Talladega. That’s amazing, but to accomplish that feat at Daytona is impossible. The 500 and the summer race are too explosive. (3.4 FPPK)

7. Kyle Busch ($9,800) – In 2008, Kyle Busch won at Talladega and Daytona. He has not won a plate race since. One of the few boxes left to check on Busch’s resume is a Daytona 500 win. (5.5 FPPK)

8. Ryan Newman ($7,600) – In his last five races at Daytona, he’s finished 5th, 14th, 8th, 8th and 5th. Newman has four top 10s in the last five races at Talladega. He’s been plate racing for almost 20 years. Longer than some readers have been alive. He knows what he is doing. (4.8 FPPK)

9. Erik Jones ($7,900) – His summer Daytona 2018 win wasn’t really impressive. He survived and won. His win at the Clash last week wasn’t impressive. He survived and won. Plate race wins are never impressive. DFS players do not want a driver to put on a clinic, they just want their drivers to survive. (3.9 FPPK)

10. Alex Bowman ($8,900) – Plate races are the closest that NASCAR gets to parity. This event can be compared to a game of chance. Each driver is a pocket on a roulette wheel. In theory, each has an equal chance, but the results say otherwise. Bowman has finished inside the top 11 in four of the last eight plate races. There is a lot of luck, but there is a little skill. (4.2 FPPK)

11. Austin Dillon ($7,400) – He’s the 2018 Daytona 500 winner and he has the eighth-best average finish at the plate tracks. Dillon was an exceptional plate racer in the Xfinity series. (3.3 FPPK)

12. Kevin Harvick ($9,700) – Once one of the most consistent plate racers, Kevin Harvick routinely earns top-15 finishes. Unfortunately, he hasn’t earned a top 10 in the last seven races at Daytona and is averaging a finish of 28th over that span. (4.6 FPPK)

13. Brad Keselowski ($10,200) – No other driver has been more vocal in their criticism of plate racing. Keselowski was the best plate racer around two years ago, and now he’s the worst. He continued his streak of terrible plate races by wrecking in the Clash, and Keselowski continued his habit of blaming everyone else. (4.0 FPPK)

14. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,800) – Something’s gotta give. Stenhouse is an aggressive plate racer that likes to race upfront. His team, JTG Daughtery, forces their drivers to remain passive and cruise around the back until the end of the race. (4.8 FPPK)

15. Ryan Preece ($5,300) – The sample size is small, but Ryan Preece has the best average finish at restrictor-plate tracks among active drivers. In his four plate races, he’s finished 8th, 3rd, 32nd, and 18th. (3.6 FPPK)

16. Corey LaJoie ($5,500) – It doesn’t always work, but some drivers hang in the back all race long, and through attrition, they earn a solid finish. This strategy requires more luck than skill, but LaJoie pulled it off in 2019. The small team driver finished 6th, 7th, 11th and 18th in the plate races. (4.2 FPPK)

17. Clint Bowyer ($8,600) – He has the third-best average finish at the plate tracks (17th), but over the last three years, his average finish is 22nd with two top 10 finishes in those 12 races. (3.3 FPPK)

18. Kyle Larson ($8,000) – Is the glass half empty or half full? Larson has one top 10 in the last 12 plate races with an average finish of 21st. Larson is due. If you chose the latter, then you’re an optimist. Disclaimer: I am an avid fan and DraftKings user, not a psychologist. (4.0 FPPK)

19. Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,500) – If you are playing roulette and black has hit 10 times in a row, then you have to play red. It’s not scientific, but your gut says, “it has to hit red eventually!” Truex has two top 20s in the last 12 plate races, and one was a 20th place finish. He’s due. (5.6 FPPK)

20. Jimmie Johnson ($8,200) – Make no mistake, Johnson is an awful plate racer. His hall of fame speech will not mention Daytona or Talladega, but he drives for a top team and will have massive Chevy support and protection during the race. (3.2 FPPK)

Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.