The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Daytona, Florida this week for the Coke Zero 400. This will be the second race at the track for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.
The summer race at Daytona is much different than the race in February. The track is slicker because of the heat and humidity which causes the cars to get loose in the corners. The strategy to win the race will be the same for NASCAR teams, but the way the drivers wheel their cars around the 2.5-mile oval will be different.
Joe Gibbs Racing ran the perfect race in the Daytona 500. Their four cars (Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin) quickly made their way to the front. The team worked together to stay in line and made it almost impossible for other drivers to take the lead. Martin Truex Jr. also worked with the Joe Gibbs Racing alliance cars to make it five Toyotas up front. These cars finished in four of the top-five spots. Fantasy teams should expect a similar strategy from the Toyotas Saturday night.
2016 Daytona 500 Results
There are other teams besides Joe Gibbs Racing who have had success on the restrictor-plate tracks this season. The drivers from Stewart-Haas Racing have also run well this year at Daytona and Talladega. Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch have averaged a top-10 finishing position at the tracks. Fantasy teams can never count out the drivers from Team Penske as well. Brad Keselowski won the race at Talladega and Joey Logano finished sixth in the Daytona 500. Any of the drivers from these teams would be excellent choices for your Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing team this week.
The best strategy for the race Saturday night is to select the best drivers who qualify outside the top 15. Track position is not important at Daytona and drivers in the back of the pack can make their way to the front in only one lap. The scoring system for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. Fantasy teams must capitalize on the bonus points for position differential in order to finish at the top of their league standings.
Pick to Win
Denny Hamlin($8,700) has a great chance to sweep the races at Daytona this season. The last driver to win both races at Daytona in one season was Jimmie Johnson (2013). Hamlin has come close to taken over the crown from Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the best restrictor-plate driver in the series. He has a series-best average finishing position and a series-best driver rating in the last 10 races at Daytona and Talladega. Hamlin is my pick to visit Victory Lane Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick ($14,200) has been very good at the restrictor-plate tracks in his career. He has the second-best average finishing position and the fifth-best driver ranking in the last 10 races on the restrictor-plate tracks. Harvick has won two races at Daytona, including the summer race in 2010. Harvick is known as "The Closer" because he knows how to make his way to the front at the end of the race. The No. 4 should be one of the cars at the front of the pack this week.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($11,500) has always been considered the best driver at the restrictor-plate tracks. He has won 10 races on these tracks (four at Daytona and six at Talladega). Earnhardt actually has a series-worst average finishing position on these tracks this year (finished 36th at Daytona and 40th at Talladega), but I expect a bounce-back performance from the No. 88 team this week. Earnhardt needs a win to secure his place in the Chase and the race Saturday night is his best chance to do so.
Kyle Busch($10,300) has been the best driver on the restrictor-plate tracks this season. He finished third in the Daytona 500 and second at Talladega. Busch only has one win at Daytona (summer race of 2008), but he has completed 94.22 percent of the laps in his 22 races at the track. The key to running well on these large tracks is the driver’s ability to avoid the big wrecks. Busch knows how to stay out of trouble. The No. 18 car should be up front at the end of the race Saturday night.
Matt Kenseth ($9,500) had the best car in the Daytona 500 and he had a great chance to win the race. The No. 20 car led 40 laps before his teammates left him on his own at the end of the race. Kenseth showed up at Talladega with another car that was one of the fastest on the track. He qualified fourth and led 39 laps before being shuffled to the back of the pack at the end of the race. Kenseth will have a good chance at going to Victory Lane for the third time at Daytona.
Austin Dillon($9,400) has run very well this season on the restrictor-plate tracks. He finished ninth in the Daytona 500 and third at Talladega. Dillon has finished nine of his last 10 races on the restrictor-plate tracks in the top 15. Fantasy teams should not be surprised to see Dillon win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race Saturday night.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,800) has started to run much better at the restrictor-plate tracks in the last two seasons. He finished 22nd in the Daytona 500 and 16th in the race at Talladega. Stenhouse did not steal the show, but he was able to complete all of the laps in both races. That is important when drivers are racing on such an unpredictable race. The Roush-Fenway cars seem to be faster than they were at the beginning of the season. Fantasy teams should expect a top-15 finish from the No. 17 car this week.
Ryan Blaney ($6,500) has run well on the restrictor-plate tracks in his career. The Wood Brothers know how to set up a car to get the most out of their aerodynamics package and Blaney has the talent to keep the car up front. He finished 19th in the Daytona 500 and ninth in the race at Talladega. Fantasy teams should expect the No. 21 car to be close to the Team Penske cars in the race Saturday night. That should be near the front.
Tony Stewart ($5,800) will have momentum going into the race after he scored a dramatic win at Sonoma last week. Much of the pressure is now off Stewart and he can focus on winning races. Stewart has won the summer race at Daytona four times. He runs much better at the track when it is hot and slick. Stewart is the best value pick in the field this week.