Place differential, place differential, place differential. This recent string of races–Pocono, Sonoma, and Daytona–have really made us focus on place differential in DraftKings, and that’s going to be even moreso the case this Saturday night since fastest laps will be spread out among many different drivers throughout the race. With that being said, don’t be surprised if the driver comes from a starting spot closer to the front: the last four Coke Zero 400s that weren’t affected by rain have been won by someone that started 8th or better. Of course, rain is in the forecast for Saturday night’s race, so don’t be afraid to go with some off-the-wall picks in DraftKings. This is Daytona, and anyone can finish up front. Except Corey LaJoie.
With just 160 laps scheduled, that means there will probably be close to 65 FPTS for fastest laps and only 40 FPTS for laps led up for grabs on Saturday night, the first number obviously depending on the number of caution laps. As stated before, dominator points shouldn’t be emphasized as much this weekend, especially fastest laps, considering it’s highly unlikely that any one driver will have more than 15.
Also check out: DraftKings Drivers to Fade at Daytona 2
High-Dollar DraftKings Drivers to Target at Daytona 2 (over $9,000)
Denny Hamlin ($9,900) – For the record, I really like Denny Hamlin’s teammate, Kyle Busch ($9,600), as well this weekend, but Hamlin starts a little further back (18th compared to 16th), and will probably be lower owned than Kyle Busch due to the $300 salary difference. Therefore, I’ll be targeting Hamlin a bit more than Rowdy on Saturday night. As far as restrictor plate races go, Hamlin is consistently in the running for the title of “best plate racer,” and he really made people aware of that by winning the Daytona 500 last season. Over the last seven Daytona races, Hamlin hasn’t finished worse than 17th, and five of those races ended with him in 6th-place or better. Momentum-wise, Denny is coming off of back-to-back top 5 finishes at Michigan and Sonoma and has been really showin competitiveness here for the last month and a half. Expect the #11 team to continue that hot streak this weekend.
Kyle Larson ($9,200) – Kyle Larson is coming off probably his worst performance of the season at Sonoma last weekend, but remember, in the Fantasy NASCAR world, it’s best to have a short memory. Many people will probably look at Larson’s terrible record here at Daytona–he has an average finish of 24.6–and look at other drivers for their lineups, but when you take out his first two season here, Larson has finishes of 7th, 6th, and 12th to his credit at this track, and that 12th-place result could have been a win in this year’s 500 if he had just a bit more gas in the tank. The #42 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 21st when Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 goes green, which means Larson has a good chance to put up a huge DraftKings score with the combination of finish points and place differential points. And at just $9,200, he could easily be one of the best value picks this weekend.
Mid-Range DraftKings Drivers to Target at Daytona 2 (between $7,000 and $9,000)
Austin Dillon ($7,900) – Every time we come to Daytona, you have to wonder when Austin Dillon is finally going to have a really bad race. And every time it doesn’t happen. Austin owns the best average finish (12.6) of all active drivers at this track–yes, even better than Dale Earnhardt, Jr.–and has posted five top 10 finishes in eight career starts. Even better, he’s never finished worse than 7th in the Coke Zero 400. This #3 team has been performing at a higher level ever since their win at Charlotte, and although it’s not something that can be actually tracked, that should give them a little boost this weekend at Daytona. Austin qualified 19th for this weekend’s race, too, so that provides a nice place differential potential as well.
Paul Menard ($7,300) – Paul Menard and the #27 team are 2-for-2 in terms of finishing inside the top 10 at restrictor plate tracks this season, and there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be able to add a third here on Saturday night. Plate tracks have always been Menard’s strength–well, if you can call it that–since he joined the Cup Series, and although he’s a bit better at Talladega than he is at Daytona, he’s not too shabby here, either. Menard finished 5th in this year’s Daytona 500 and has finished 18th or better in four of his last six starts at this track. He qualified back in 24th for this weekend’s race, and if he is able to make it up into the top 15 by the time the checkered flag waves, he should put up a pretty good score. I don’t expect a large amount of DraftKings players to have Menard in their lineups on Saturday night, so he should be a decent off-sequence choice as well.
Low-Dollar DraftKings Drivers to Target at Daytona 2 (under $7,000)
Ryan Newman ($6,700) – “The Rocketman” didn’t get any love from DraftKings this weekend, as they dropped his salary down to $6,700 for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. And while this low salary is sure to cause his ownership percentage to jump up, the fact that he qualified 22nd this weekend should have the opposite effect, as DraftKings players will be looking to hit it big in the place differential category with a driver starting further back in the field. However, let’s not forget that Newman is in some of the best restrictor plate equipment in the garage, and despite his reputation for not being very good at these big tracks, he is a previous winner here at Daytona and does have three top 10 finishes in the last five Coke Zero 400s.
Michael McDowell ($6,200) – Michael McDowell loves his car this weekend, and although we hear most drivers say that for every race, when a guy like McDowell is so confident with his car, it’s noteworthy. This driver and team are in the middle of a career year, and as long as they can stay out of the wrecks here on Saturday night, they should have a good finish. McDowell qualified 23rd for this weekend’s Coke Zero 400, which is right in that range that will make a lot of people overlook him, instead focusing on the low-dollar drivers that start further back and possibly cost less. DraftKings made McDowell the highest he’s been in quite a while this week, but I love it because, as said before, it’s going to drive most players away from taking him. Still, I have McDowell projected to finish 16th in this race, which would net 35 base DraftKings FPTS, or $177 per point–3rd-best among my projections. McDowell finished in the top 15 in both Daytona races last year and wound up 15th in this year’s Daytona 500.