The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Daytona, Florida this week for the Coke Zero 400.
Racing in the summer at Daytona will be different from the Daytona 500. The race track was cooler and had more grip in the February race. This week the track will be hot and slick. The speeds may not be as fast this week, but the race will come down to an exciting dash to the checkered flag Sunday night.
Daytona used to be a track where how the car handled in traffic was the difference in running up front or getting stuck in the back of the pack. Since the track was repaved, Daytona is similar to Talladega. There is a good chance the drivers will ride around until it is time to race to the front. This style of racing may not be want the fans want, but it is the safest way for a driver to get the car to the finish in one piece.
Here are my picks for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
Yahoo Group A Picks
The strategy for Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing will be to select the best team without using Kevin Harvick. Fantasy teams will want to use their nine allocations with Harvick at the 1.5-mile race tracks. Although he may be one of the best choices in the field Sunday night, it is too risky to use Harvick on a restrictor-plate track.
My sleeper pick in Group A is Kyle Busch. He has always run well in the summer race at Daytona and Busch is the type of driver who would love to get his revenge on a track where he lost most of his season. Busch will have momentum coming off his win at Sonoma, so do not be surprised to see Busch find his way to Victory Lane again Sunday night.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr. should always be considered when the Sprint Cup Series competes on a restrictor-plate track. He won the last race at Talladega and should be the favorite Sunday night. Earnhardt has the series-best average finish position and the second-best driver rating in the last five races at Daytona. He is the safest pick in the field this week
Johnson has been the best driver at Daytona since the Generation 6 car was introduced. He has a series-best driver rating and a series-best average finish position in the last five races at the track. Johnson has finished four of his last five at the track in the top five. It will be hard to find a better driver for your team than Johnson this week.
Other good choices: Kevin Harvick,Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin
Yahoo Group B Picks
Fantasy teams should have no problem finding quality drivers without using Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., or Kasey Kahne. These drivers are too valuable to be used at Daytona. Save them for the race at Kentucky.
My sleeper pick for Group B is Casey Mears. It is hard to justify using Mears over the top talent in this group, but this is the week to do so. Mears finished sixth in the Daytona 500 and fourth in this race last season. He knows how to get to the front at the end of the race.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
If fantasy teams ever want to feel confident about using Biffle for their team, this is the week. He has the sixth-best driver rating and the sixth-best average finish position in the last five races at Daytona. Biffle started eighth and finished 10th in the Daytona 500. Expect the same type of results from Biffle Sunday night.
Bowyer is one of the safest picks in Group B this week. Bowyer does not always run up front in the restrictor-plate tracks, but he knows how to finish up front. Bowyer has nine finishes in the top-10 in his 19 starts at Daytona. In February he started ninth and finished seventh. Bowyer is a great pick this week.
McMurray has two wins in his career at Daytona. He is probably going to need a win to make the Chase and the race Sunday night will be his best chance. McMurray is not the best choice from this group, but do not be surprised to see him qualify up front and finish in the top this week.
Dillon has not been able to duplicate his Xfinity success in the Sprint Cup Series, but he has been able to run well on the restrictor-plate tracks. In 2014 he won the pole and finished ninth in the Daytona 500. Dillon has finished three of his four career starts at the track inside the top 15. This is the week to use an allocation with Dillon.
Other Good Choices: Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr.
Yahoo Group C Picks
Racing on the restrict-plate tracks in unpredictable and can be a nightmare for fantasy NASCAR players, but it also allows for fantasy teams to use drivers who are not regulars in the series and save allocations with the more popular drivers for other race tracks. This week Ryan Blaney, Bobby Labonte and Brian Scott are entered in the race. Each of these drivers will be excellent choices for your team.
My sleeper pick for Group C is Alex Bowman. He has not performed well on the smaller tracks, but Bowman knows how to avoid the wrecks on the restrictor-plate tracks. He has competed in two races at Daytona and finished 23rd and 13th. Another finish like that would make fantasy teams happy that they selected him this week.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Most fantasy teams would like to save an allocation with Ragan this week, but my advice is to go ahead and use him. He is a good restrictor-plate driver and he has not performed well on the other tracks since joining Michael Waltrip Racing. Ragan won this race in 2011 and he is the best option in Group C this week.
Blaney should be on every team this week. He has had problems with engines failures this season, but I would not worry about it this week. Blaney could have easily won the last restrictor-plate race at Talladega. He was running second on the last lap before being passed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Blaney finished fourth in the race.
Other Good Choices: Danica Patrick,Brian Scott, Bobby Labonte and Alex Bowman
Fantasy Live Picks
The best strategy for Fantasy Live this week will be to select drivers who start in the back with a chance to work their way to the front. Track position is not important this week. Drivers who are able to finish higher than where they start the race will earn bonus points for finishing differential. These points will be needed to help your team score well this week since there are only 160 laps in the race and 80 bonus points available for leading laps.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Daytona:
Driver 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. $27.50
Driver 2: Martin Truex Jr. $23.75
Driver 3: Kyle Busch $25.00
Driver 4: Austin Dillon $16.00
Driver 5: Landon Cassill $8.00
Pick to Win: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
* Driver prices based on prices at Sonoma
Fox Fantasy Racing
The strategy for Fox Fantasy Racing will be easy this week. Do not select any drivers who start in the top 15. This game puts so much emphasis on a driver’s ability to improve their place in the race that there is no need to select drivers who start up front. The new qualifying rules should be better than what they were in the Daytona 500, but there will still be many quality drivers starting in the back.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Daytona:
Driver 1: Jimmie Johnson $12,500
Driver 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. $11,800
Driver 3: Kurt Busch $10,600
Driver 4: Denny Hamlin $9,500
Driver 5: Kyle Busch $5,600
* Driver prices based on prices at Sonoma