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 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 At DAYTONA slate locks at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000) - At some point, Truex will stop shooting himself in the foot. Last year, Truex drove through the field twice after making egregious mistakes under caution. In the Clash, Truex again drove through the field twice, but then got loose on the dirt and crashed into the wall while leading the race.
2. Chase Elliott ($10,700) - His road course stats are impressive (5 road course wins since 2018). Anyone can read a stat sheet, and a lot of DFS NASCAR players only do that. A closer inspection of the actual races reveals that these wins were not dominant affairs. The 2020 Daytona Road Course is a case in point. Elliott inherited the lead, he never passed the leader.
3. Denny Hamlin ($9,800) - What happened to Denny Hamlin at the Clash? He ran up front all race long, but finished 6th. On the last pit stop, some cars stayed out. Hamlin chose to pit and his pit crew chose to have their worst pit stop of the day (16.3 seconds). He’ll be fine in his return to the Daytona Road Course.
4. Kyle Busch ($10,000) - A mechanical failure ruined his 2020 Daytona Road Course race. There is no point in looking at those laps. His Clash race on the other hand, is worth reviewing. Busch made 26 passes during the race. That’s exceptional anywhere, but unheard of in a 35 lap road course race.
5. Ryan Blaney ($10,400) - The top tier road racers at the DRC are Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex. Blaney might deserve to be in that group, but he’s just outside of that tier. He should have won the Clash, but his excellence at end was partly the product of having fresher tires than Chase Elliott.
6. Joey Logano ($9,400) - Early in the Clash race, Logano suffered significant nose damage. He battled back and finished 3rd. While his finish is appealing, the damage is a concern. Daytona is adding more turtles this week. If Logano does not clean up his racing, he won’t finish this race.
7. AJ Allmendinger ($10,200) - His Kaulig car is a concern, but then again, Allmendinger won a road course race in JTG Daugherty equipment. It might not be the equipment that hurts him, but the setup. Kaulig had terrible setups in the Xfinity race at the DRC last season. What makes anyone believe that they will guess correctly with a Cup car that they rarely race?
8. Kevin Harvick ($9,200) - In two Daytona Road Course races, Harvick has not looked good. Last summer, his poor race was the result of getting turned at the beginning of stage 3. In the Clash, it was his fault, but it’s hard to beat up on Harvick. The track was covered in dirt and cars were spinning everywhere.
9. Alex Bowman ($9,000) - Racing from the back of the field to the front at the Daytona Road Course is not a new experience for Bowman. Last season, he cut a tire in stage 1 and went a lap down. Eventually he got his lap back and raced his way to a 12th place finish.
10. Tyler Reddick ($7,500) - Apparently Reddick didn’t get the memo that the Clash was an exhibition race. On the first lap, Reddick went barreling into turn one like Leroy Jenkins. One can only imagine what was going through Richard Childress’ head. Reddick is either going to score a lot of points or lose a lot of points this weekend.
11. Brad Keselowski ($9,600) - Since 2016, Keselowski has an average finish of 16th at the road courses. Surprisingly, Keselowski has never won at a road course. He has several 2nd place finishes, but those aren’t wins.
12. Aric Almirola ($7,900) - Before the last caution of the 2020 Daytona Road Course race, Almirola was in 13th place. After a pit stop and a bad restart, Almirola finished 24th. Almirola isn’t a great road racer, but he’s capable of a top 15 finish.
13. William Byron ($8,800) - In every road course race, Byron chases stage points. It’s a good approach for a driver trying to point their way into the playoffs, but it guarantees that he can’t earn a top 5 in a road course race because he always starts stage 3 deep in the field.
14. Chris Buescher ($7,200) - It’s unlikely that Buescher earns another top 5 finish at this race track, but a top 10 is not out of the question. How did Buscher earn a top 5 at the Dayton Road Course in the first place? He pitted before the stage breaks. He’ll do that again. He held his position when he cycled to the front. Why can’t he do that again?
15. Matt DiBenedetto ($8,100) - Road racing has never been one of DiBenedetto’s strengths and he has not looked particularly good at the Daytona Road Course. One thing going in his favor is that he was able to get valuable reps in the Clash race, and half of the field was not.
16. Kurt Busch ($8,600) - There’s a handful of attractive place differential plays starting in the back. It’s possible that Kurt will go overlooked. In terms of average finish over the last 21 road races, Kurt Busch ranks 2nd.
17. Erik Jones ($7,800) - An RPM car is not a JGR car, but the disparity will not be as significant this weekend. Jones’ intermediate track days are likely over, but he’ll be fine at road courses. Since 2018, these tracks have clicked for him. If Jones runs a clean race, and pits before the stage breaks, then he should be able to secure a top 15 finish.
18. Chase Briscoe ($8,400) - The leap to Cup from Xfinity never goes well, but this could be a weekend where it’s not very painful for Briscoe. The package that NASCAR is running is very similar to the package Briscoe ran in the Xfinity Series where he won two road course races.
19. Kyle Larson ($8,300) - Don’t count him out; he’s a driver. Larson won the Rolex 24 at the Daytona Road Course in 2015. The last time NASCAR raced a low downforce package at a roval type track (Charlotte Roval 2018), Larson led the most laps.
20. Ryan Newman ($7,300) - How many times did Ryan Newman burn DFS players last season? Here’s an easier question - how many times did Ryan Newman work? He was optimal once. Newman started in the back a lot last season just like he is in this race, but the play never worked.
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