The start of the season couldn’t have been better for the DFSArmy, as we had a killer Clash. Now we turn our attention to the Daytona Duels. Tommorrow evening there will be two races, each with 21 drivers. The first race will fight for odd number starting spots in the Daytona 500, the second race will fight for even number starting spots in the Daytona 500 (except the front row, which already belongs to Byron and Bowman). As always, the research is just getting started, so think about getting signed up and get exclusive access to our projection model, the domination station lineup optimizer, and most importantly, direct chat room access to some of the sharpest NASCAR minds in the industry. I will be on there all weekend updating everyone on my research.
If you have never played a restrictor plate slate before, here are some important things to note. Plate races kind of turn traditional strategy on it’s head for a couple different reasons:
- Most importantly, the restrictor plates. On track, the cars have about the same horsepower – meaning they will be nose to tail all day. This means drivers who usually aren’t relevant get made relevant, and if there is a crash – it’s going to end the day of 3-15 drivers in an instant.
- There is only 60 laps. Meaning we only have few laps led and fast lap points. This puts a premium on on place differential.
- It’s very seldom that the optimal lineup maxes that salary cap. Whacky lineups galore.
I think the most important thing this contest will be playing at least five differential plays. Now regardless of what strategy you play this week – the DNF rate could be more than 50%, or as low as 10%. This makes just about any strategy volatile. With only 21 drivers – there will also be lots of duplicated. With that in mind, understanding the correct optimal place differential strategy certainly gives us an edge. Lets start with…
1. William Byron – Starting too high, nothing to race for, and not an impressive plate race record. Full fade.
2. Jimmie Johnson – Johnson was our key to victory at the Clash, however starting this high will make him hard to rely on – full fade.
3. Daniel Hemric – I think Hemric is underrated, but is irrelevent in this situation – full fade.
4. Martin Truex Jr. – Was mostly irrelevant in the Clash, and is too spotty to rely on here. Full fade.
5. Brad Keselowski – Brad K boasts perhaps the most impressive plate track record of any driver in the field, and took home the Clash trophy in 2018, and was one of the more dominant drivers last weekend. His plate track prowess prevents me from fading Brad K all together, however his chances of ending up in the optimal are quite low starting this high.
6. Paul Menard – I expect Menard will struggle to get the lead without starting up front. I expect Menard will be relevant for the 500, but he isnt here.
7. Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch is usually pretty solid in the Duels, however he plays it pretty safe. A top five is certainly not out of the question, but I reckon he is probably not going to be in the optimal.
8. Kevin Harvick – Another driver who is solid, but probably not relevant given his high starting position.
9. Tyler Reddick – Reddick will be intersting to look at come the 500, but for now leave him out of your lineups.
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Stenhouse tends to be pretty potent on plate tracks, and is uber aggressive in all situations. The Fords obviously had some get up and go in the Clash, I expect more of the same here. Stenhouse represents the highest starting driver I would put any significant stock into.
11. Daniel Suarez – Suarez got a fresh coat of paint as he will take the track under the SHR banner in 2019, and I am expecting a big year from him. However, history tells us this won’t be the week, as his Daytona prowess has been lacking throughout his career.
12. Chris Buescher – I wish Buescher was starting a little further back, but he is still entirely relevant here. He is a FANTASTIC Daytona driver and has a great knack for staying out of trouble. I expect to see CB in the top five.
13. Ryan Newman – Newman does the same thing every plate track, falls to the back and waits for the big one. If there is a big wreck, he will avoid it and finish high. If there is no big wreck, he will finish at the back. The duels tend to be a little calmer than the other plate races. I can justify being really low on Newman.
14. Ryan Truex – I really don’t like this play. Neither Truex nor Tommy Baldwin Racing gets me excited when it comes to Daytona. I will be under on Truex.
15. Ryan Preece – I believe Ryan Preece is going to make us a lot of money this year. He is supremly underrated and has a good enough care to be relevant. However, his weakness is plate tracks. Preece cut his teeth in the northeast short track circuit. Plate racing will take some getting used to. Go light on Preece.
16. Matt DiBenedetto – Now we are talking. DiBenedetto has got the plate race gene, and this year he will do it in the best equipment of his career. I love this play and fully expect to see Matty D inside the top ten, and possibly compete for a top five.
17. Bubba Wallace – Bubba Wallace damn near won the Daytona 500 in 2018, and not much has changed since then. I expect him to be aggressive and plow to the front here with reletive ease. Love this play.
18. Matt Tifft – Tifft will pilot a Front Row Motorsports entry that is actually an old BK Racing machine. BK Racing had some decent Daytona runs in the past, and while Tifft was never stellar on plate tracks in xFinity – he usually stayed out of trouble. Don’t mind being a little over on Tifft.
19. Parker Kligerman – This car, piloted by DJ Kennington, finished 13th last time we went to Daytona. I rate Kligerman a little higher than DJ – and think Kilgerman can move this thing foward pretty easily. Another great play.
20. Landon Cassill – Landon Cassill is always better than the equipment he runs, and Daytona is no different. While this is a young startup team – they are here to compete. I think upside for this play is a top ten, so being over on Cassill is a good idea.
21. Cody Ware – I would aim to be under on Ware. This team has an awful time finishing races, and his distinction as “last place starter” will probably push too highly owned.
1. Alex Bowman – Perhaps slightly more confidence in his ability at Daytona than Byron, but mostly a fade.
2. Chase Elliott – Starting too high to invest in. I don’t mind sprinkling him in just incase he gets the lead earlier and doesnt give it up.
3. Joey Logano – Same idea. Too high to really put much stock into, but worth sprinkling in on the chance he gets the lead early and dominates.
4. Clint Bowyer – Full fade, starting too high. Logano is a better play if you are looking for a Ford in this range.
5. Austin Dillon – Full fade, very low odds of being in the optimal despite a formidable Daytona record.
6. Denny Hamlin – Again, starting too high to be relevant, despite being a great Daytona driver.
7. Erik Jones – Erik Jones was a great play for the Clash, but starting 7th deletes all his upside.
8. Ryan Blaney – I will repeat what I said for the Clash. YRB is sneaky good at Daytona, with one of the best Daytona driver ratings in the field. He has a very calculated style that lends itself well to controlling the chaos. He starts in the top ten, so he will probably go under-owned by the masses. I don’t mind sprinkling in a little Blaney.
9. Aric Almirola – Almirola is too good to ignore when it comes to plate racing, however a 9th plate starting position means he needs to win, which I reckon is a bit of a long shot. I will likely try to match the field or be slightly under.
10. Kurt Busch – Kurt Busch will make his return to Chevy this weekend and he laces up to pilot the CGR #1 car. Well I am sure there are some kinks that will need to be worked out with a new team, you can’t ignore Kurt Busch at a plate race. Tenth is too high to go crazy on – but I don’t mind being a little owner here.
11. David Ragan – I feel like Ragans ability on plate tracks is largely overstated. While he has had some good results, more often than not he ends up towards the back of the pack. I think you are better off being under on Ragan.
12. Michael McDowell – I actually don’t mind this as a sneaky play. McDowell finished fourth in this race last year, and has a very good track record at Daytona. I will be over on McDowell.
13. Casey Mears – Mears will make his return to Daytona in a Germain Racing car. I was impressed by his speed and stability in practice, however my confidence in him is quite low given he starts 13th. I am mostly under on Casey Mears.
14. Jamie McMurray – Jamie McMurray is here for fun this weekend in the “one-week only” #40 car. McMurray is always uber aggressive at plate tracks – coupled that with the fact there is no “big picture” here for him to concern himself with – he should be a wildman. 100% boom or bust play.
15. Brendan Gaughan – Brendan Gaughn returns to Daytona with Beard Motorsports for a third year. In their 4 OFFICIAL races at Daytona, this team has an average finish of 14.5, which means they are punching way above their weight. I expect them to countinue that trend this year. Way over on Gaughan.
16. Kyle Larson – Larson is not a good plate race driver. However, you have a high level team with a high level driver starting in a postion where he can only really move foward or wreck. You have to atleast match the field on Larson, if not aim to be over.
17. Ty Dillon – One of my favorite plays of the week. Dillon has great survial instincts on plate tracks, and a car good enough to go forward if this race stays green.
18. Ross Chastain – Chastain has never been that impressive on plate tracks, so don’t go overboard with him. However, I think a lack of high probability finishers in this area makes him entierly relevant.
19. Corey LaJoie – Corey Lajoie will pilot the #32 car that Matt Dibenedetto has many good Daytona runs in. I am not sure LaJoie is quite the driver that Matty D is, but he is certainly good enought to warrant decent exposure this weekend.
20. BJ McLeod – This is another Rick Ware Racing team. I would aim to be under on McLoed. This team has an awful time finishing races.
21. Joey Gase – Gase has had some Daytona experiance, but making the optimal would likely rely on a lot of other cars DNFing, which is less likely in the Duels.
No matter what you do – don’t get married to your money, as things can get wild at Daytona. Don’t be afraid to get weird with your lineups and don’t be afraid to leave money on the table. Avoid heavy exposure to those starting towards the front, and PLAY MME if you are able.
So there it is folks. We will be talking more strategy on the DFS Army Slack Room right up until lock. Get signed up and get exclusive access to our projection model, the domination station lineup optimizer, and most importantly, direct chat room access to some of the sharpest NASCAR minds in the industry. As always, use my research as a launching point for yours. Trust your process, good luck this week, and let’s make some cash.