It’s Daytona 2 week, and you know the drill: we’re looking at place differential points and place differential points only. Two of my top four scores in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend have came at restrictor plate races thus far and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if it was three out of five after this weekend. The only difference with Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 is that there are no really good drivers starting at or near the back of the pack. Still, there are some good choices starting well outside the top 10, and those are the guys we need to focus on this weekend.
My team points last week (Sonoma): 223
Overall team standings: 413th
Total team points for the season: 2,791
Top FOX Fantasy Auto Drivers for the 2017 Daytona 2 Race
Kyle Larson ($12,000) – The good news is that Kyle Larson is actually a viable, affordable driver in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend. Restrictor plate tracks (and pricing) tend to do that. Larson was honestly one of the worst Fantasy NASCAR picks here at Daytona for his first two full-time seasons in the Cup Series, but since then he has really improved; the #42 Chevrolet finished 6th and 7th in the two races here last season and ended up finishing 12th in this year’s Great American Race, although that result would have been much better if Larson didn’t run out of fuel. The #42 Chevrolet qualified 21st for this weekend’s Coke Zero 400, so there’s plenty of room for place differential fantasy points in this FOX Fantasy Auto game. For what it’s worth, Kyle wound up 12th at Talladega last month.
Kyle Busch ($11,300) – Rowdy Busch is a previous Coke Zero 400 winner and, honestly, he has a shot at getting to victory lane for the first time in 2017 this weekend. This #18 team has been knocking on the door of their first win for about two months now, and that kind of momentum has a way of shining at a track like Daytona. From a FOX Fantasy Auto perspective, Kyle Busch qualified 16th for Saturday night’s race, which gives him a chance at some pretty good place differential points. The #18 Toyota didn’t end up finishing this year’s Daytona 500 but it’s worth noting that Busch has led at least 16 laps in each of the last three races at this track and finished 2nd and 3rd in the two races here last season.
Denny Hamlin ($10,800) – As far as place differential goes, Denny Hamlin is one of the best options in the field this weekend. The #11 Toyota will roll off the grid from 18th when the Coke Zero 400 goes green on Saturday night, but Hamlin should finish much better than that by the end of the race. Five of the last seven Daytona races have ended with Denny in 6th-place or better, and that includes his Daytona 500 victory last season. Looking at the two restrictor plate races this season, Hamlin finished 17th and 11th, but it’s noteworthy that he led the 2nd-most laps in the Talladega race. Considering he’s one of the best plate track racers in the series, being able to get Hamlin at $10,800 in FOX Fantasy Auto makes him one of the best value picks in this game.
Austin Dillon ($9,300) – Believe it or not, Austin Dillon actually has the best average finish of any driver here at Daytona International Speedway. Yeah, he’s only made eight career starts at this track, but it’s still impressive. What’s even more impressive is that, since taking over the #3 Chevrolet, Austin has yet to wind up worse than 19th at Daytona, and as far as the Coke Zero 400 goes, he has finished 7th or better in each of his three starts in this race. Not too shabby. This weekend, Dillon will roll off the grid from 19th when the green flag waves, which gives him a pretty nice amount of room for place differential points in the FOX Fantasy Auto game. And at just $9,300, he’s pretty much a steal. Somehow, as of early Saturday morning, only 15% of FOX teams had Austin Dillon on them. Don’t make the same mistake 85% of your peers are making.
Other viable options: Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Ty Dillon, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Paul Menard
Stay away from…
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($8,200) – I don’t know about you, but I like going to max points with my Fantasy NASCAR teams. And while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is everyone’s favorite driver to pick when we stop at Daytona International Speedway, that doesn’t make him the best option. Junior was actually a viable option coming into the Coke Zero 400 race weekend but when he went out and won the pole on Friday that completely shot that. Even if Earnhardt is able to go out and lead the most laps and win the race here on Saturday night, the maximum amount he can score in FOX Fantasy Auto is 45 points. The main reason I recommend staying away from Junior in this particular fantasy game is just because of the sheer number of people that are going to pick him: as of Friday night, over 60% of teams had Earnhardt on them. If the #88 Chevrolet would get caught up in a wreck or have mechanical issues–which has happened more often than not on the plate tracks recently–that’s a huge amount of teams that you’re going to probably score more points than. You couldn’t pay me to put Junebug on my FOX roster this weekend.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,000) – Martin Truex, Jr. should be the 2nd-most popular driver picked in the FOX Fantasy Auto game this weekend, so let’s take the strategy route here. Just like I said with Junior, what if something happens to Truex on Saturday night? Remember, a contrarian strategy works more often than not at restrictor plate tracks. In addition to that, Daytona and Talladega are nowhere near Truex’s strengths on the NASCAR circuit. Yes, he had that runner-up finish in the 2016 Daytona 500, but that is one of one three top 10 finishes in 24 career starts here. That’s pitiful. Truex does start back in 25th on Saturday night, so there’s a possibility he puts up a huge score, but why not roll the dice and root for someone else for a change?