Three months goes by so quick – NASCAR DFS is BACK and I couldn’t be happier. While the season doesn’t start for a week – the contests start now! We have three “exhibition” races to tackle this week and it all starts Sunday afternoon. The first on the slate is the Gander RV Clash at Daytona – a duel between anyone who scored a Pole Position in 2018, or has won the Clash in the past. This year, we see 20 drivers take the field and we will talk about every single one today. 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.
So this slate is going to be a little different than you may be used. 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 75 laps. Meaning we only have 18.75 laps led points to give out, and depending on how cautions come probably only 25 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 20 drivers – there will also be lots of duplicated. With that in mind, understanding the correct optimal place differential strategy certainly gives us an edge.
Paul Menard ($5800) – Menard is usually a pretty good play when it comes to Daytona, as his driving style lends itself well to surviving. He boasts four top six finishes at this track over the last couple years – and while starting first kills his value for this slate, he will be worth a look as the week progresses.
Kyle Busch ($7800) – The clash is always boom or bust for KB. He will be reckless, aggressive and more often than not, end up in trouble. Probably not worth a look at this time.
Brad Keselowski ($9400) – Brad K boasts perhaps the most impressive plate track record of any driver in the field, and took home the Clash trophy in 2018. His plate track prowess prevents me from fading Brad K all together, however his chances of ending up in the optimal are quite low.
Ryan Newman ($5300) – Newman has been really solid at Daytona the past couple years, but not good enough to justify a play here.
Alex Bowman ($6800) – Bowman had a third place finish at the 2017 Clash, but even a repeat of that performance probably wouldn’t see him make the optimal. Probably no value here.
Kevin Harvick ($9600) – I don’t understand this pricepoint at all. Harvick has really struggled at Daytona in the last couple years, so making him the most expensive on the slate makes him really easy to fade. You might be able to find some value by sprinkling him in, as his price and history will probably make him go very low owned. However, I would recommend a near full fade.
Joey Logano ($9200) – If Brad K. has the best plate resume in the sport, Logano is a close second. Logano has been dynamite at exhibition races in Daytona, boasting a 2nd at the clash in 2018 and a 1st the year before. He starts a little high to go overboard on, but he showed good movement in practice and is certainly in play this weekend.
Ryan Blaney ($8000) – YRB is sneaky good at Daytona, with one of the best Daytona driver ratings in the field. He finished fourth in this race last year, and 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.
Austin Dillon ($5400) – Daytona is one of AD’s best tracks – and a tenth place start is low enough to make him relevant. It will be interesting to see if being the defending Daytona 500 champ gives him a little ownership boost among the masses. Coupled with a low price, I hazard to guess it will. For that reason, I will probably try to be under on Dillon, but not a fill fade.
Daniel Suarez ($7500) – 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.
Jamie McMurray ($5600) – 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.
Martin Truex Jr ($7000) – Truex is so frustrating to handicap at Daytona, he will finish 30th for four straight races, and then get a top two out of nowhere. The newly minted JGR driver will probably go overowned, so I think under is the play here.
Jimmie Johnson ($6300) – 2018 was not a good year for Jimmie Johnson, but he’s got a new crew behind him and looks to rebound in 2019. Johnson is a great plate race driver, despite his recent struggles, and looked super smooth in practice. I like this play. I’m over on JJ.
Kyle Larson ($6000) – Larson and plate tracks go together like orange juice and toothpaste. However, we are getting into the area where you have to have big time exposure based on differential potential. I expect we will see Larson owned at around 30 – 35% in most large GPPs. I would probably try to match that.
Clint Bowyer ($8700) – Clint makes his Clash return in 2019 and will look to improve on an abysmal Daytona track record, which will probably push his ownership down. However, the Fords looked really good in practice, and Clint has tremendous survival instincts, finishing on the lead lap 77% of the time – which is an elite number. This is one of my favorite plays in the field.
Chase Elliott ($8500) – I expect Elliott will go over 40% this weekend, and I don’t necessarily agree. He has finished on the lead lap just 33% of his platestarts. However, 2018 was really a breakout year for him on plate tracks and he did lead some laps. I would match or be slightly under on the field here.
Denny Hamlin ($8300) – There was a time where Hamlin at Daytona was nearly a surefire top ten. Those days are long gone but he still has a lot of get up and go when it comes to restrictor plate racing. I anticipate he will be around 50% owned in most large GPPs. I don’t mind sneaking a little north of that number.
Aric Almirola ($8900) – Another one of my favorite plays. Daytona has been good to this Florida native, who boasts a 70% lead lap finish rate. Almirola also represents the Ford camp that I am so fond of this weekend. Big plays on Aric this weekend.
Kurt Busch ($7300) – 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, espically if he starts second last. I expect he will be the highest owned driver in the slate, and I don’t mind going over on that.
Erik Jones ($6500) – The most recent Daytona winner will have a long way to go to repeat as he rolls off dead last. Of course starting last, you will need to have large exposure. Somethings to keep in mind though. He has finished just 65% of laps in his plate starts, and just 38% of the time he ends on the lead lap. HOWEVER – he STILL has an average finish of 6th at plate tracks. Truly boom or bust.
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.