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 Coke Zero Sugar 400 slate locks at 7:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.
1. Joey Logano ($10,600) — It’s very likely that Logano will be the highest owned driver on the slate because the No. 22 car is starting 22nd in a plate race. Logano is one of the best plate racers and he nearly won his fifth plate race in the last race at Daytona.
2. Denny Hamlin ($9,400) — The only way that he is optimal is if he leads a bunch of laps, and that’s a possibility with his third place starting position. It’s also a possibility that Hamlin doesn’t like what he sees and immediately bails on the front pack to turn safe laps in the back. Either way, he’s the smartest plate racer around, and DFS players should feel confident rostering him.
3. Brad Keselowski ($10,000) — The best summary of plate racing is Keselowski’s career. He has more plate wins than any driver in the field (seven), and at one moment in time, he was a must play. Then all of the sudden, from 2018 to this year’s Daytona 500, he was the worst plate racer in NASCAR. However, just like that, he became one of the best again by winning at Talladega in the spring.
4. Kaz Grala ($8,900) — The No. 16 Kaulig Car is legit — it won the Indianapolis road course race. Grala finished sixth in this car at Talladega. He’s starting 38th and if he avoids the big one — that “if” is a big one — then he’ll very likely be in the winning lineup.
5. Michael McDowell ($5,700) — Even before his Daytona 500 win, McDowell was considered a good plate racer and the Daytona results backed it up. Since 2016, McDowell has 10 Top-15 finishes in the 11 Daytona races.
Refer a friend and get $20 DK Dollars! Head to the DraftKings Playbook Promo page for more details!
6. Ross Chastain ($8,200) — Good luck building “safe” lineups. Anyone can wreck and the degree of difference between safe, passive drivers and aggressive drivers is indiscernible. Safe drivers may finish, but they won’t win. Also, safe drivers wreck. Aggressive drivers can wreck, but when they don’t — they’re optimal. Chastain is as aggressive as it gets.
7. Aric Almirola ($9,300) — Is there a difference between Talladega and Daytona? It depends on who you ask. Almirola would say so. He rolled off eight consecutive top 10s at Talladega, but never earned back-to-back top 10s once in the last six years at Daytona.
8. Corey LaJoie ($7,400) — In three of the last four Daytona races, LaJoie has a top 10 finish. In 2019, he finished seventh and 11th at Talladega, so he clearly knows what to do in a plate race. More importantly, he knows how to earn a top-15 finish in inferior equipment.
9. Cole Custer ($6,800) — Is he starting far enough back? Yes, 25th is perfect. Is the equipment capable of a top-10 finish? Yes, his SHR equipment is capable of winning. Can Custer get it done? Yes, he finished 10th at Talladega in the spring and 11th at Daytona in February.
10. Bubba Wallace ($6,500) — For some DFS players, Bubba might be starting too close to the front, but there is no hard and fast rule. If Bubba were starting inside the top 15, his ownership would be very low, but he isn’t. It’s funny how a couple spots can have such a psychological impact on DFS players.
11. Erik Jones ($6,300) — He’s a past summer Daytona winner, but that was in a JGR Toyota. His RPM Chevy is a clear downgrade, but it’s capable of a top 10 regardless of his poor finishes in the first two plate races this season.
12. Anthony Alfredo ($5,800) — He’s a quick learner. In Alfredo’s first Cup plate race he wrecked, but in his next plate race at Talladega, he finished 12th. Who are we kidding? He didn’t learn anything. He wrecked in the first race and didn’t wreck in the other. That’s all it was.
13. Ryan Newman ($7,000) — There should be extra points awarded for flips, but alas there is not. Newman doesn’t win plate races, but he has 12 top 15s in the last 16 plate races. The only concern is that he has wrecked in the last three races at Daytona.
14. Ryan Preece ($7,700) — The media loves Ryan Preece at plate tracks because one time he magically avoided a wreck. That replay ran on repeat over and over and the idea that Preece is a good plate racer has been imprinted in DFS players’ minds. Preece is a decent plate racer (four top 10s in ten races), but his numbers are not better than Ty Dillon’s, and no one fawns over Ty Dillon at plate tracks.
15. Austin Dillon ($10,300) — His starting position of 27th will make him appealing to DFS players at Daytona. His standings position of 17th will not make him appealing. Dillon could possibly point race into the playoffs, and that means he will be aggressive at the end of the stages. That’s an unnecessary risk for DFS players.
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,000) — It’s been a while since Stenhouse won two plate races in one season (2017). It almost doesn’t feel real, but then again, it never did. Stenhouse has always been a good plate racer, but he has always been better at Talladega.
17. Tyler Reddick ($7,300) — His ownership could be low based on his Daytona results (27th, 29th, 28th and 27th) or it could be high based on his Talladega results — two seventh place finishes. His starting position isn’t in the back or up front.
18. Landon Cassill ($7,100) — Can this car finish? Everyone likes Landon Cassill and everyone roots for him, but this is about winning money not cheering for a good guy. At Daytona, the No. 96 car has been running at the finish in three of six races with one lead lap finish. At Talladega, it has been running at the finish in six of seven races with three lead lap finishes.
19. Matt DiBenedetto ($6,700) — In GPPs, DiBenedetto is worth a look. If he knows what is good for him, then he approaches this race with one goal: checkers or wreckers. A top-5 finish does not do him any good — his career is on the line. In DFS, a win will give him just enough place differential points and finishing position points to be optimal.
20. Daniel Suarez ($7,800) — This is a quality ride capable of a top-5 finish as long as Suarez does not wreck. Unfortunately, Suarez is not a great plate racer, in fact, he might be the worst at this track. He has never earned a top-15 finish at Daytona and his average finish is 32nd.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.