The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Saturday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona slate locks at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.
1. Aric Almirola ($6,700) — No one has been in more plate-track optimal lineups than Aric Almirola. Since the inception of DFS NASCAR at DraftKings, Almirola has been an optimal play at a plate track 10 times.
2. Erik Jones ($6,900) — The other Aric has more optimal lineup appearances, but Almirola has been in more races. Jones has been optimal seven times, but he has competed in 22 plate races to Almirola’s 26 races.
3. Michael McDowell ($7,300) — His 2021 Daytona 500 win is impressive, but it’s not his most impressive plate-track stat. McDowell has a top-15 finish in 11 of the last 13 Daytona races.
4. Ross Chastain ($10,200) — A strong argument can be made that Chastain is the best plate racer in NASCAR. Chastain has multiple Xfinity Series plate-track wins and a Cup Series win. Chastain has been optimal six times in 15 Cup Series plate races. Most drivers are lucky to finish half of their plate races. He’s not just finishing, he’s finishing half of the races up front.
5. Justin Haley ($6,400) — In nine Cup Series plate races, Justin Haley has been optimal four times. Haley may not be an average driver in this series, but that does not matter this weekend. He’s been a good plate racer in the Xfinity Series and he’s been a good plate racer in the Cup Series.
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6. Denny Hamlin ($9,600) — Since 2015 (the launch of DFS NASCAR at DraftKings), Hamlin is tied for the most plate-track top-10 finishes (13 in 27 races). Over that same span, Hamlin has three wins at Daytona and has been optimal five times.
7. Joey Logano ($9,800) — Since 2015 (the launch of DFS NASCAR at DraftKings), Logano is tied for the most plate-track top-10 finishes (13 in 27 races). Over that same span, Logano has not won at Daytona and has not been optimal once in a Daytona race.
8. Bubba Wallace ($7,800) — His Talladega win is the icing on the cake. He does not need that win to prove that he’s a great plate racer. Wallace has nine top-15 finishes in 11 Daytona races and three top-5 finishes in the last four.
9. Chris Buescher ($7,700) — Daytona is Buescher’s preferred plate track. In the last 10 Daytona races, Buescher has six top-10 finishes. He finished second in last summer’s Daytona race.
10. Ryan Blaney ($10,000) — In four of the last five Daytona races, Blaney has finishes of fourth, first, sixth and second. He also has wins at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.
11. Ty Dillon ($5,700) — In his last 18 races at Daytona and Talladega, Dillon has 12 top-15 finishes. Dillon is looking for a ride next season, so a win on Saturday night would go a long way towards keeping his racing career alive.
12. Chase Elliott ($10,500) — He has a plate track win at Talladega and Atlanta, but Elliott has not won at Daytona. Elliott does have an Xfinity Series win at Daytona. In his last four Daytona races, he has finishes of 10th, ninth, second and second.
13. Daniel Suarez ($9,200) — The Trackhouse cars have been fast at the plate tracks. Suarez did not run well in the first Talladega race or the first Daytona race, but he finished sixth and fourth in the two Atlanta races.
14. Martin Truex Jr. ($9,000) — It is well known that Truex is statistically one of the worst plate racers ever. His ownership should be microscopic. This could be a decent leverage play because he’s been decent lately. Truex finished 11th and eighth at Atlanta. In the last two at Talladega, he finished fifth and 12th, and in the season opener, Truex finished 13th at Daytona.
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,200) — Once upon a time, Stenhouse was a great plate racer. He won at Talladega and Daytona in 2017. He knows how to win, and he needs to win the season finale to qualify for the playoffs.
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