NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Daytona 500
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
numberFire is your home for daily fantasy coverage of the Daytona 500. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes has you covered with his current form and odds breakdown and track preview. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, Jim also discussed the Daytona 500 on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
The NFL ends their season with their premier event at the Super Bowl, but NASCAR begins with their showcase event. Dubbed "The Great American Race," the 63rd Daytona 500 will open the NASCAR season as a fresh start for all in 2021. This event is one of the most exciting of the year on the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, and the plate-racing format at Daytona and Talladega always creates tight racing and the potential for "The Big One," a wreck that can wreak havoc on anyone and everyone. The key DFS strategy due to the risk and upside to pass is to stack the best drivers possible who are starting toward the back.
The starting lineup for this event was set by Thursday night's qualifying races. Alex Bowman and William Byron were awarded the front row for the Daytona 500 in pole qualifying on Wednesday, but Byron will have to move to the back after a wreck in Thursday night's duels. Pit stalls were selected in the same order as the starting lineup.
With that, let's preview the Daytona 500 on FanDuel.
Denny Hamlin ($14,000): His likely overwhelming popularity is just about the only argument against loving Denny Hamlin on Valentine's Day. Hamlin is the back-to-back Daytona 500 winner, and with 200 laps led in the last 12 races at Daytona and Talladega -- which is third-most -- Hamlin is a staple upfront at plate events. The issue for Hamlin that led to a poor duel finish was a lack of dancing partners, as Hamlin had just two other Toyotas to work with in his qualifying race. With his full complement of teammates in the Daytona 500, one of NASCAR's best plate racers should have a fighting chance for a third straight win in the 500. His floor is incredibly high starting in 25th place, and he'll be chalk.
Brad Keselowski ($12,500): Keselowski will be using a backup car after getting involved in a crash in his qualifying race, but he still managed an 11th-place finish Thursday and will be credited with the 24th starting spot. Starting from the back -- which he has to do due to the car change -- is no concern at Daytona, especially for a racer as accomplished as Keselowski, who has won a combined seven times between Daytona and Talladega. The missing crown jewel for Keselowski on plate tracks is the 500-miler in February, as his best effort in "The Great American Race" is a third-place finish in 2014. Penske Racing demonstrated some of the most impressive speed in the qualifying events, and Keselowski checks a lot of boxes for Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,300): Stacking teammates is a good strategy on plate tracks because of the tendency of teammates to work together in the draft. Obviously, when a huge crash occurs, that may go out the window, but not every race on this style of track ends with a bang. Truex makes for an affordable stack with teammate Denny Hamlin. On Thursday Truex was leading on the last lap and was overtaken by Austin Dillon and a Chevrolet surge, which dropped him all the way to 26th place start for Sunday. That starting spot give him a ton of upside Sunday and will likely make him a very popular pick. Reunited with all his Toyota peers, Truex will look to do one spot better than his 2016 finish, when he was a nose behind Hamlin in second.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,500): Nowhere besides plate racing would it make sense to use Stenhouse at this salary, but with crash rates so high for everyone, the trouble-prone Stenhouse is on a level playing field with everyone else. This style has essentially saved Stenhouse's Cup Series career, as his only two career wins were at Daytona and Talladega, and Stenhouse has seven career top-five finishes on the style of track. Stenhouse led 24 laps in last year's Daytona 500 and finished second by a nose at Talladega in June. He will look to work with a few of the race-high 18 Chevrolets in Sunday's event. Starting 21st, Stenhouse has serious upside and can find the top five again if he avoids trouble.
Chris Buescher ($7,200): If the question is "which driver has a better average finish since 2018 on plate tracks than Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and Kevin Harvick?" the answer would be Chris Buescher. The Texas native is perpetually consistent and reliable, which has helped him find the end of the last seven plate-track events -- which is the highest current streak in the sport. Buescher also scored a top-10 finish in every points event at Daytona and Talladega last season, which means he was not just riding around in the back. Starting 22nd, Buescher is not an extreme example of stacking the back but still has a decent floor.
Austin Cindric ($6,200): The 2020 Xfinity Series champion, Cindric showcased plenty of speed in his first Cup Series action ever on Thursday, but he made a rookie mistake to speed on pit road and lose the draft. He had cross his fingers and get some luck to even make Sunday's Daytona 500. His prayers were answered as Ryan Preece battled into the main event, and Cindric was able to fall back on his time trial from Wednesday to start 39th in the Daytona 500 on speed. Cindric is the fourth Penske Racing car this weekend, and starting on the last row with a fast car, he is certainly worth a look in all formats as a potential drafting partner with elite, high-salary options like Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney.
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.