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 the value of each driver.
The DraftKings DAYTONA 500 slate locks at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Denny Hamlin ($10,400) - There’s no such thing as a lock in plate racing, but this is as close as it gets. Hamlin is starting 25th and is a favorite to win. Last year, he started 21st and won.
2. Chase Elliott ($10,300) - The golden boy is not starting in the back, but he’s starting far enough back. Elliott is a possible race winner and those finishing position points will carry the day.
3. Joey Logano ($9,900) - If you’re rostering Logano, then you are picking him to win and lead laps, and that’s not a stretch. It’s also not a stretch to imagine Logano as a DNF. He has not finished better than 25th in each of the last three Daytona races.
4. Martin Truex Jr. ($9,300) - His plate racing numbers are miserable, but he’s starting in the back half of the field. In the last 20 plate races, Truex has three top 10 finishes. He’s definitely due.
5. Brad Keselowski ($10,100) - He was once a dominant plate racer. Now he is terrible. His Duel race further illustrates that he doesn’t have it anymore. Whether the Duel wreck was his fault or not is irrelevant. A good plate racer doesn’t put himself in that situation.
6. Tyler Reddick ($7,100) - The number one stat this weekend, and possibly the only stat, is starting position. Reddick is starting 29th and that makes him a great play in the upcoming wreckfest. If that’s not enough, he won an Xfinity plate race in 2018 and finished 7th in the last Cup Series plate race.
7. Ryan Blaney ($10,000) - Drivers go on hot streaks at plate tracks. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano have all gone on heaters. Blaney is on a heater. Since 2019, he’s won two plate races and finished 2nd in another.
8. Austin Cindric ($6,100) - If Logan Paul was driving a Penske car that was starting second to last at Daytona, then even the YouTuber would be in play. Cindric doesn’t have to do anything special. He just has to avoid the wrecks.
9. Kyle Busch ($9,500) - Plate racing is not one of Kyle Busch’s strengths, but he’s not a bad plate racer. His numbers don’t look great, but everyone wrecks. In terms of top 5 finishes, Kyle Busch has the 6th most over the last 20 plate races.
10. Ross Chastain ($7,800) - Xfinity stats usually do not matter when it comes to predicting Cup Series outcomes, but Xfinity stats at plate tracks matter. All three NASCAR series race the same at the plate tracks. Chastain won two plate races in the Xfinity Series.
11. Kevin Harvick ($9,700) - In a 2017 rankings article it was noted that Harvick had earned 11 top 15 finishes in his last 15 Talladega races. My how things have changed. In the 16 plate races since that article was published, Harvick has just three top 15 finishes.
12. Erik Jones ($7,300) - His equipment has been downgraded this year, but it’s not going to hurt him this weekend. Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace were competitive in Richard Petty Motorsports equipment at the plate tracks.
13. Aric Almirola ($8,600) - This is a risky pick because he is starting so close to the front, but by starting close to the front Almirola has a great chance at leading laps. During the Duel race, Almirola again demonstrated his elite plate racing skills, but winning a 60-lap exhibition and winning the Daytona 500 are totally different things.
14. Kaz Grala ($4,900) - Look at the DFS plate racing checklist. Where is Kaz starting? Dead last, so that checks out. Can he plate race? He won the Daytona truck race in 2017.
15. Kyle Larson ($8,500) - He’s not starting in the back, but Larson is just far enough back to be in play. If he wins, his finishing position points and place differential points will secure a spot in the optimal lineup.
16. Alex Bowman ($9,200) - Typically, the winning lineup is filled with drivers starting in the back half of the field, but there is usually one exception. The optimal lineup might have five drivers that score a boatload of place differential points, but it also includes one driver that leads a boatload of laps.
17. Kurt Busch ($8,800) - Over the last 21 plate races or going back to the inception of DraftKings NASCAR contests, Kurt Busch has the 6th best average finish. He seems like a good play. Not exactly. Kurt Busch has never been in an optimal lineup at a plate track.
18. Anthony Alfredo ($5,200) - Everyone needs to hear this. Play drivers that are starting in the back. There is a 21 race sample size for DraftKings plate track contests. Of the 126 drivers that were optimal, 88 of those drivers started 20th or worse. Alfredo starts 36th.
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,100) - Since his win at Daytona in 2017, Stenhouse has failed to record a top 10 finish in the seven subsequent races. There is plenty of appeal to playing a two time plate track winner starting in the back half of the field, but he’s likely going to wreck.
20. Chris Buescher ($6,900) - Last year, Buescher earned a top 10 finish in every plate race. There’s two ways of looking at this. He’s pretty good at plate racing or he’s due for a wreck.
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