Restrictor Plates, pack racing and wrecks are important elements one will think of when it comes to this week’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series venue, Daytona International Speedway. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is considered to be one of the notable races that has a high chance of shaking up the 2018 playoffs field as any team has a realistic chance of winning. There are still a high amount of drivers searching for their first victory of the season while other drivers like Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch look to extend their win count even more at Daytona.
RACE PREVIEW FOR COKE ZERO SUGAR 400
Post-Qualifying Friday Update: Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger qualified 15th and 24th, respectively. Both drivers have showcased better speeds than most starting ahead of them in practice and have scored solid results in recent Daytona races. Busch and Allmendinger are two drivers that must be considered for lineups because they have a very high chance of scoring points from Place Differential.
Two other drivers that will pick up plenty of points from PD are Paul Menard ($7,400 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel) and Daniel Suarez ($6,900 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel). Menard has placed sixth or better and scored positive PD in each of his last three starts at Daytona . He was 11th in first practice and starts 30th. Suarez’s best finish at Daytona in three starts is 17th, but could have been better if he did not wreck in previous events. Suarez was 20th, had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in practice, and starts 32nd. These two drivers are the best plays for PD and will challenge for a Top 15 finish based on practice speeds. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Brad Keselowski ($11,000 on DraftKings, $12,200 on FanDuel) is one of the top names to consider at Plate tracks every time. Keselowski’s six wins at Superspeedways are the most of active drivers and he won this event in 2016. Keselowski has led laps in four of the last five Daytona races and he has placed in the Top 10 in four of the last five races this season. He was third in practice and led the sixth-most Laps at Daytona since 2005 (190). Although Keselowski has wrecked in his last three Daytona starts, he was running in or close to the Top 10 every time. He will be one of the strongest options this week based on practice and overall history at Plate tracks.
Joey Logano ($10,700 on DraftKings, $11,800 on FanDuel) is one of the most consistent drivers in recent races at Daytona. He has finished sixth or better in four of the last five Daytona races. Logano has won at Daytona, and he is the most recent winner at a Plate track when he won at Talladega earlier this season. Logano’s 13 Top 10 finishes in 2018 rank third of all drivers, which include three of the last four races. He was fourth, had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in practice and is one of the favorites to compete for the win this week.
Denny Hamlin ($10,300 on DraftKings, $11,500 on FanDuel) is a good pick for this week’s race. Hamlin is a former Daytona 500 winner and has led laps in each of the past five Restrictor Plate events. He has placed in the Top 10 in six of the last nine Daytona races and has five Top 10 finishes in the last seven Cup races this season. Hamlin has the fourth-best Average Running Position (14.6), fifth-most Fastest Laps (99) and the fourth-best Driver Rating (89.4) since 2005. Hamlin was 15th in practice, and his experience and consistency at Plate tracks makes him one of the drivers more likely to finish in the Top 10.
Kyle Busch ($10,000 on DraftKings, $11,000 on FanDuel) scored his fifth win of the season last week at Chicagoland, which is first of all drivers. In 26 starts at Daytona, Kyle Busch has one win, eight Top 10 finishes and 382 Laps Led, which is third-most of active drivers. Since 2005 at Daytona, Kyle Busch has the third-best ARP (14.3), the second-most Fastest Laps (106) and the best DR (91.7). He was 19th and had the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in practice. The practice speed displayed by Kyle Busch points to a finish in the Top 10, which he scored in two of his last five Daytona starts.
Ryan Blaney ($9,200 on DraftKings, $11,200 on FanDuel) is one of the best picks for Daytona. He has finished in the Top 10 in two of his last three starts at the site, and he led the most laps at the Daytona 500 earlier this season (118). Blaney has two Top 10 finishes in the last four races this season, has the best ARP (12.3) and the second-best DR since 2005 (91.2). Blaney was fifth in practice, showcasing why he is one of the drivers to pick for lineups this week.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Kurt Busch ($8,800 on DraftKings, $10,800 on FanDuel) is one of the better and more consistent drivers at Plate tracks. In 34 starts at Daytona, Kurt Busch has one win and 17 Top 10 finishes. Since 2005 at the site, Kurt Busch has the third-most Laps in the Top 15 (2,914), the sixth-best ARP (15.2) and the third-best DR (90.2). Kurt Busch was sixth and had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in practice. Kurt Busch is one of the best picks for this week’s race. He always has been one of the more confident and competitive drivers over the years at Daytona and his practice speed shows that he will be one of the strongest lineup options.
A greatly recommended driver for this week’s race is Aric Almirola ($8,700 on DraftKings, $10,100 on FanDuel). Almirola is a former Daytona winner, and he nearly won the Daytona 500 this season before being wrecked on the final lap. He has placed 15th or better in six of his last seven starts at Daytona and is in improved equipment since the majority of those races. Almirola was second and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in practice. Daytona is one of Almirola’s best tracks and has shown better speeds than most in practice. Expect Almirola to compete for a Top 5 finish with a chance of winning.
Clint Bowyer ($8,300 on DraftKings, $10,400 on FanDuel) has placed in the Top 5 in each of the last three races this season. In 25 starts at Daytona, Bowyer has 12 Top 10 finishes. Bowyer has finished in the Top 10 in each of the last five July Daytona races and has the third-most Fastest Laps since 2005 (105). Bowyer was first and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in practice. Bowyer was one of the best in practice and has a good history at Daytona, making him one of the ideal choices for this week’s race.
Daytona is one of Austin Dillon‘s ($7,800 on DraftKings, $9,200 on FanDuel) best tracks. In 10 starts at the site, Dillon has one win and eight Top 20 finishes. Dillon has the third-best Average Finishing Position of active drivers at Daytona and he has placed 16th or better in three of the last four races this season. Dillon was 17th in practice and he is one of the safest picks for this week’s race. He has only one DNF and he has made it to the end of most Daytona races. Dillon is one of the better picks based on his consistency at Daytona.
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($6,400 on DraftKings, $7,300 on FanDuel) is making his third Daytona start in the Cup Series. He placed second in this year’s Daytona 500 and finished 15th in his first start at the site. Wallace also finished 16th in his only start at Talladega. He was 14th in first practice and is one of the better bargain values based on recent races.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,000 on DraftKings, $7,200 on FanDuel) is one of the best bargains this week. In 18 starts at Daytona, Allmendinger has nine Top 20 finishes. Allmendinger has placed 13th or better in the last four Daytona races and he was eighth in practice. Look for Allmendinger to place in the Top 10 based on his practice speed and recent races.
Michael McDowell ($5,700 on DraftKings, $6,200 on FanDuel) has quietly been one of the most consistent drivers at Daytona in recent years. In 14 starts at the track, McDowell has seven Top 20 finishes, which include each of his last five starts. McDowell was 12th in practice and has joined Front Row Motorsports this season, a team that has excelled at Daytona in the past. Look for McDowell to be one of the best bargain plays this week.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR COCA-COLA FIRECRACKER 250 (DRAFTKINGS ONLY)
The only Cup regulars participating in this week’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona are Kyle Larson ($12,700), Ryan Blaney ($12,300) and Chase Elliott ($11,800). Larson has four Top 10 finishes in seven starts at Daytona. Elliott has one win and placed 12th or better in each of his last four starts at the track. Blaney is making his first Xfinity start at Daytona. Larson was 16th in first practice and had the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. Blaney was ninth and had the tenth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. Elliott was sixth and had the eighth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. Watch for all three drivers to place in the Top 10 based on practice speeds.
Ryan Reed ($8,000), Austin Cindric ($7,800) and Justin Haley ($7,400) will be some of the better picks for this race. Reed is a two-time Daytona winner who has placed sixth or better in his last three of his last four starts at the track. Cindric wrecked early and finished 40th in his only Daytona start while Haley is making his Xfinity debut at Daytona. Reed was first and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. Haley was second and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. Cindric was fourth and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. All three drivers have displayed practice speeds better than most and will compete for a Top 5 finish.
Alex Labbe ($6,600) and Timmy Hill ($4,700) are the best picks of the bargain values this week. Labbe finished 24th in his only Xfinity start at Daytona while Hill has placed 17th or better in each of his last four starts at the site. Labbe was seventh in first practice and fourth in final practice, while Hill was 10th in first practice and second in final practice. Both of these drivers have displayed practice speeds indicative of a Top 10 finish.