DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Daytona
The Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for the second time this season, as the Coke Zero 400 takes place Saturday night. Maybe. Saturday’s weather forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms, which is pretty typical for this time of year in the Sunshine State of Florida.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle ($6,500) stormed to his first pole since the 2012 season, and he will be a popular choice in DFS now since he should rack up a few laps. As a No. 5 or 6 driver, you could certainly do worse. ‘The Biff’ has a win in 27 career starts at the track, but just three Top 5s and eight Top 10 with a 19.8 Average-Finish Position (AFP).
Carl Edwards ($9,300) of Joe Gibbs Racing just missed the pole, and he will go off second in Saturday’s race. ‘Cousin Carl’ has never tasted victory in Daytona, but he hasn’t been bad in his 23 career starts. He has five Top 5s, nine Top 9s and 13 finishes in the Top 20, posting a respectable 19.6 AFP. He has led just 15 career laps at DIS, but that could change dramatically since he starts on the outside of Row 1.
Edwards’ teammate Denny Hamlin ($9,800) steered his FedEx No. 11 Toyota to victory in February’s Daytona 500, the first win for that manufacturer in the historic race. It was also just the second victory for Toyota at DIS, and it might not be the last for Hamlin. Over the past five starts at DIS he leads all drivers with a 3.2 AFP and 113.8 Driver Rating, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data. During that span he has led 125 laps at the track, second best among all active drivers, while running a ridiculous 88.0 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. The next nearest competitor ran 77.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Hamlin posted a top speed of 191.865 mph in qualifying and will go off ninth.
Teammate Matt Kenseth ($8,600) has been strong over the years at Daytona, posting two wins, six Top 5s and 14 Top 10s in 33 career starts with a 17.9 AFP. Kyle Busch ($9,900) has won once in 22 starts, but managed only seven Top 10s and a 18.2 AFP. Rowdy has a solid 87.9 Driver Rating over the past five Daytona starts. A JGR stack isn’t a bad way to go with their numbers, especially with Kyle going off third and Kenseth seventh. All four JGR cars start ninth or higher.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($10,600) is an intriguing play, starting 16th in Saturday’s grid. He is second among all active drivers over the past five starts at DIS with a 103.9 Driver Rating, running 77.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while leading all drivers with 197 laps led. Given his successful track record on restrictor-plate runs, Dale Jr. will be a popular play. Teammate Jimmie Johnson ($10,100) checks in fifth in Driver Rating over the past five at DIS, leading 107 laps which is third-best among all drivers. He has three wins with 11 Top 5s in 29 career starts, and a 16.9 AFP. The No. 48 will start on Row 4 in the eighth spot.
Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski ($8,900) hasn’t had a great history at Daytona, managing a dismal 22.1 AFP in 14 career starts at the track. He has just three Top 10s and four DNFs. Teammate Joey Logano ($9,700) is much more attractive among Penske drivers. He has a win at Daytona while also logging five Top 10s and 10 Top 20s in his 15 career starts. Keselowski surprised in qualifying, as he’ll start fifth, while Logano is set to go off from the 11th position.
The Stewart-Haas Racing stable of drivers have each had success at Daytona, and will be interesting plays. Kurt Busch ($9,100) had the best qualifying effort of the team, and he’ll start 10th. Over the past five races at Daytona the elder Busch has a 97.2 Driver Rating, third-best among active drivers. And he has 9.8 AFP, managing to avoid getting collected in the frequent wrecks. Kevin Harvick ($10,300) didn’t fare nearly as well in qualifying, posting a 190.444 mph speed, just ahead of teammate Danica Patrick ($6,300). The duo will go off 20th and 21st. Happy has two Daytona wins and 14 Top 10s in 30 career starts, good for a 15.4 AFP, second-highest among drivers with at least seven starts. And remember, Danica has been on the pole at DIS, and she has led seven laps with two Top 10s and three Top 20s in eight career starts at the track.
Lastly, Tony Stewart ($8,300) is coming off a win last weekend, and looking for his fifth-career win at Daytona. He has 14 Top 10s and 20 Top 20s in 34 career starts with an 18.4 AFP and 668 career laps led, with only Earnhardt Jr. within 100 of that number.
ON THE DOWN LOW
As far as the lower-priced options are concerned, there is plenty of good picks for a high-low DFS lineup strategy.
Biffle and Danica aren’t the only attractive low-priced options, as there are plenty of lower-tier drivers with upside. Austin Dillon ($7,900) leads all drivers with at least six career starts at Daytona, posting a 12.5 AFP. He has one Top 5 at Daytona under his belt with four Top 10s and 10 laps led.
Paul Menard ($7,400) has managed 10 Top 20 finishes in 18 career starts at Daytona, leading 67 laps. He isn’t a bad No. 4 or 5 driver option. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700) will also be a popular play, as he sizzled in practice and qualifying, rolling to a fourth starting spot by turning a lap at 192.320 mph. He has managed five Top 20s in eight career starts at the track.
Aric Almirola‘s ($6,600) only win came at Daytona, and he has managed five Top 20 finishes in 10 career starts while posting three DNFs. At that rate he is a bit of a hit-and-miss DFS option, but he was able to pick up the win in the Xfinity race Friday night and carries a little momentum into Saturday’s start. Jamie McMurray ($7,800) runs well on plate tracks, and he checks in ninth in Driver Rating over the past five Daytona starts with 11 laps led and 64.0 percent of his laps turned inside the Top 15.