The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver. Note: fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.
The Bluegreen Vacations Duel at DAYTONA splits the field into two races, and the first race locks at 7:15 p.m. ET on DraftKings. The second race locks at 8:30 p.m. ET.
1. Joey Logano ($10,100) - In 2019 and 2020, Logano won a Daytona Duel race. This race does not feature aggressive driving, so the inferior drivers can’t get lucky by surviving a major wreck and sneak into the top 5. The top plate drivers tend to win the Duel races.
2. Denny Hamlin ($9,800) - Surprisingly, his Duel numbers are not better than his regular Daytona stats. Almost every driver finishes better in this conservative exhibition. That’s not true of Hamlin. Possibly his plate racing strength is clairvoyance. His wreck avoidance skills are unparalleled.
3. Aric Almirola ($9,300) - Over the last five years, Almirola has been one of the best plate racers. Although he only has one win over that span, his average finish at the plate tracks is the best in the field. He finished 2nd in his Duel race last season, and 3rd in 2019.
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($9,000) - Last year through qualifying, Stenhouse locked in a spot on the front row for the Daytona 500. Some competitors will drop to the back of the Duel field in this situation, but not Stenhouse. He went out there and raced. The Duel is a casual race for everyone except for Stenhouse, and he’s played that to his advantage.
5. Erik Jones ($8,000) - His RPM equipment should be fine at Daytona; it never held Bubba back in the plate races. As far as skill goes, Jones won the 2018 summer Daytona race and he won the 2020 Clash.
6. Ryan Newman ($7,400) - The odds of Newman flipping into the sky are low in Duel race, so he’ll very likely finish the race. Judging his past Duel races, Newman has a strong chance at a top 5 finish. Newman’s average finish over the last four Duel races is 6th.
7. Tyler Reddick ($8,200) - Only a few drivers can earn close to double digit place differential points and a top 10 finish, and even fewer are willing to take that risk. Reddick is an all or nothing driver that doesn’t know how to play it safe. In 2018, Reddick won the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona.
8. Ty Dillon ($5,800) - It’s go or go home time for Ty Dillon. He’s never been a great driver in terms of being in contention to win, but Dillon has been one of the best plate racers when it comes to top 15 finishes. Over the last 21 plate races, Dillon has the 9th best average finish.
1. Chase Elliott ($9,700) - Talladega has been better to Elliott than Daytona, but the Daytona Duels have been just as good as Talladega. Elliott has two Duel wins, and it appears his luck is turning around at Daytona. He finished 2nd in the August Daytona race.
2. Kevin Harvick ($8,900) - In his last five Daytona Duel races, Harvick has not finished worse than 4th place. In four of those five races, Harvick started 8th or better. This is a conservative race where the good machines that qualify upfront work together to stay up front and stay in one piece.
3. Brad Keselowski ($10,200) - It looks like he’s lost it. Whatever plate racing sorcery BK once had is gone. Not only has he wrecked out of nearly every plate race over the last four years, Keselowski only has two top 10 finishes in his last five Duel races.
4. Martin Truex Jr. ($9,200) - In real plate races, where at least half of the field wreck, Truex tends to wreck. The Duel races are different. There is nothing to gain by aggressively racing, but a driver stands to lose their Daytona 500 car if they do something dumb. Truex has a top 10 finish in the last two Duel races.
5. Ryan Blaney ($10,000) - Just a couple feet stood between Blaney and a three race win streak at the plate tracks. Where it stands, Blaney finished 1st (Talladega 2019), 2nd (Daytona 2020), and 1st Talladega (2020). That’s still unbelievable.
6. Bubba Wallace ($7,700) - The sample size isn’t very big, but it’s big enough. In Bubba’s three Duel races, he’s never finished worse than 6th. His average finish is the third best in the field. Bubba almost won the Daytona 500 in 2018.
7. Kurt Busch ($8,600) - In the last 10 Daytona races, Kurt only has three top 20 finishes. This is not a typical Daytona race. The drivers approach this race like a senior citizen approaches stairs. In his last five Duel races at Daytona, Kurt has an average finish of 5th.
8. Austin Dillon ($8,000) - Just a couple years ago, Dillon won the Daytona 500. He has a Daytona win in the Xfinity series as well. In the last four Duel races, Dillon has four top 10 finishes.
9. William Byron ($6,900) - In 2019, Byron won the pole and decided to drop to the back of the field in the Duel race because he didn’t want to lose his starting position in the Daytona 500. Last year, Byron started 4th and won his Duel race. Later in the season, Byron would go on to win the Daytona race in August.
10. Chris Buescher ($7,400) - He’s starting in the back half of the field and Daytona is one of his best tracks. Buescher has five top 10 finishes in the last seven Daytona races. In the Duel races, he has four top 10 finishes in the last five Duel races.
11. Noah Gragson ($5,500) - This isn’t Beard Motorsports’ first rodeo. They’ve had to race their way into the Daytona 500 before, and they’ve raced well in Daytona 500 races. Gragson is new to the Cup Series, but not Daytona. He won the 2020 Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona.
12. Anthony Alfredo ($6,000) - Front Row Motorsports has always put together good plate cars, but the concern is not the car. The worry is Alfredo’s lack of experience. This is such a casual race that Alfredo will have plenty of time to get comfortable. He only has to move forward a couple spots at the end.
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