NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Coke Zero Sugar 400
It is 4th of July weekend in America, and any NASCAR fan knows what that always means -- it is Daytona weekend, as well. NASCAR makes its first return trip of 2019 to the 2.5-mile superspeedway, and for the final time in the foreseeable future, the follow-up to the Daytona 500 will take place in July this weekend in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Next year, this race moves closer to NASCAR's playoff events.
As usual, NASCAR daily fantasy strategy takes a twist on superspeedway tracks, which includes the two races at Daytona and Talladega. These tracks, because of their size and speed, are so incredibly aerodynamic dependent that the rules package has a great impact on the racing -- and therefore the strategy. This particular aero package has only one race of data to go off of -- the 2019 GEICO 500 at Talladega. The thought process behind the package was to put a large rear spoiler on the car to create huge runs from drafting and enable more passing. That came to fruition at Talladega, with race winner Chase Elliott leading the most laps, but it was only 45 of them. With that being the case, place differential and finishing position will once again be a premium to scoring FanDuel points at Daytona this weekend on FanDuel.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about Richmond, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on recent driver history, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Joey Logano ($14,000): The unfortunate news about the rainout of qualifying means it took all of the pass-differential value out of the high-priced tier. The nine highest-priced drivers in FanDuel's pool are all starting inside the top 10, so there is very little edge to be gained in that regard. The task becomes selecting the strongest plate-racing bullets out of the bunch, and there are two who stand clear above the rest in terms of ceiling and consistency. The first is Joey Logano, who will start on the pole as the series' point leader. In his last 10 races on plate tracks, Logano has nine top-10 showings, with the lone exception coming when he crashed out of the July Daytona race last year. That kind of consistency is remarkable, and it happens in part because he is out front a lot. He has led laps in eight of those races and won two of them. Even from the pole, be confident Logano can lead some of this race and bring home a solid finish yet again.
Denny Hamlin ($13,000): Hamlin's numbers stand out in similar fashion to Logano's when it comes to longevity. In his last 11 plate races, Denny Hamlin has seven top-10 finishes, leading in six of those and winning the Daytona 500 back in February. Hamlin has the reputation as one the most reliable and consistent "pushers" in the garage area, and it helps him find his way back to the front when he inevitably finds trouble, as he leads the circuit in pit road penalties since the start of 2018. Hamlin is another solid play as he looks to defend his Daytona crown, and he will start sixth with a fast race car, posting second in final practice.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($9,300): Stenhouse Jr. had a career-defining race here one year ago. He dominated this event -- winning both stages with the best car in the field. However, he also caused three pile-ups that took out most of his fellow competitors. And that type of speed, coupled with aggression, has really defined Stenhouse in NASCAR's top series so far. He saw a major price spike this weekend because of his success here last year as well as winning two other plate races since 2017, and because of his point standing, he starts an incredibly favorable 19th. Stenhouse might be the top value on the board for Saturday's slate.
Aric Almirola ($9,000): Aric Almirola quietly has Logano and Hamlin in his sights as far as consistency is concerned on plate tracks. He actually has five top-10 finishes in his last six plate races, crashing out of this February's Daytona 500. He even won at Talladega last fall to advance in the playoffs. At $9,000, with a lot of cash to spend, he still has some pass-differential upside in a potential win from his starting spot of 11th. Pay no mind to the slow practice times, as Ford was ultra conservative in Thursday's practices when it came to drafting in large packs. Almirola will look for another solid plate race run Saturday night.
Erik Jones ($8,200): Last July's winner could desperately use a repeat on Saturday night. With rumors flying around about Xfinity Series superstar Christopher Bell taking aim at Jones' standing at Joe Gibbs Racing, the pressure is on Jones to make the playoffs. He did exactly that last year by winning this race. Currently sitting even further outside the cut-line after Alex Bowman's win last week, Jones needs a solid run. He is at the right track for it as Daytona has been a much better spot for Jones than Talladega has. His average finish at Daytona with JGR is a sparkling 2.33, but at Talladega, that dips to 22.00. He'll look to hold onto that Daytona magic in this one.
Paul Menard ($7,000): Paul Menard has quietly been considered a great plate racer since his days working with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at DEI back in 2005. He is now with a legendary team when it comes to plate racing, as Wood Brothers Racing has more wins at superspeedways than any team in the history of the sport. That combination seems to be working well, as in all superspeedway races, including exhibitions, Menard has seven top-10 finishes at plate tracks since the start of 2017. However, he also has three DNFs. But -- as is worth discussing in the bargain bin section -- Menard's most valuable asset for this race may be his place-differential potential. A rough season so far means he starts 25th, but he will have a tremendous race car to advance forward and score points Saturday.
Austin Dillon ($6,700): There are legitimately good drivers with pass-differential upside on this slate, and there is a discussion to be had whether that means, in some lineups, you may be best off leaving thousands of dollars of salary on the table -- just to get more of those good drivers starting closer to the back. Austin Dillon is one such driver, starting 21st at a tiny $6,700 price tag. Dillon seems to have a knack of avoiding trouble at these superspeedways, which is a very valuable commodity. He's finished on the lead lap in eight of his last nine races on plate tracks, including a 2017 Daytona 500 win. If he can do so again in what could be a wild race, he will be outstanding value at this price.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.