Welcome fellow race fans to the return of FakePigskin’s coverage of NASCAR Daily Fantasy for the 2018 season! It’s been a long offseason, but it’s time to fire the engines again for a new season!
For those of you not familiar with how NASCAR Daily Fantasy is played, here is the basic rundown of how it works:
- You must select five to six drivers to race, but each driver has a salary assigned to them and you must fit their salaries within a $50,000 cap, so you cannot just load up on the top five to six drivers in the points standings.
- Points are scored by a driver’s place differential (Starting position -finishing position), fastest laps posted, laps led, pass differential (amount of cars passed – times being passed), and their finishing position.
- You will need to find the balance of your front running drivers along with your sleeper drivers you can count on to out perform their salary ranking and finish in the top 15.
The Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series begins at Daytona International Speedway. Daytona is the sight of stock car racing’s biggest race, the Daytona 500, also known as the “Great American Race”. What makes this race so great, is that any driver in the field as a chance to win! Daytona and Talladega are known as the Super Speedways where restrictor plates are used to keep the cars from going nearly 230mph! With the restrictor plates, the cars are kept down at a lowly 200mph… The restrictor plates also keep not only the drivers safe, but also the fans safe to prevent any significant crashes from occurring and possibly injuring fans from debris. Due to the limitation of the motor to produce more power, it allows for cars to “draft” off each other which results in big packs of cars that can’t separate from each other. This allows the lesser teams that have less money, resources, and equipment quality to compete with the top teams such as Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. However…with the big pack…comes what they call “The Big One”. “The Big One” is an accident that collects multiple cars due to the close pack racing that occurs.
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With a win nearly guaranteeing you a spot in the Playoffs, a win now not only puts your name with the sport’s greatest drivers such as Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon, but it takes a lot of pressure off the driver knowing he’s already locked his way into the playoffs that don’t event begin until September!
Just like each NASCAR DFS race, my picks are separated into three stages, my All Stars, Solid Performers, and Sleepers. Drivers, let’s start your money making engines!
Brad Keselowski ($10,400): With the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski now becomes NASCAR’s top ranked restrictor plate racer. Keselowski has three wins in his last eight restrictor plate races and also won last weekend’s Clash, which is an exhibition race reserved for all the pole winners (drivers who qualified first) from the 2017 season. Brad’s average finish in the last eight restrictor plate races is 15.75 which ranks 14th among all eligible drivers, but that includes three DNFs (did not finishes). Keselowski always races near the front, leading a series high 327 laps! Now that was with a different car, and Keselowski did crash in Thursday’s qualifying races, however with the assistance of his Penske teammates (don’t be surprised to see the others mentioned) Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney, expect to see Keselowski battling in the top five all race.
Denny Hamlin ($9,800): The 2016 champion of “The Great American Race” slots in as my number two ranked racer. Hamlin beat Martin Truex Jr. in a photo finish in the closest finish in 500 history. Hamlin starts 2nd on Sunday and boasts an average finish of 13.75, which ranks 4th amongst all eligible drivers. The most important stat is that Hamlin only has one DNF in the last eight races, which means he has a propensity to be away from “The Big One”.
Joey Logano ($9,600): The 2015 Daytona 500 champion slots in as my final All-Star! Joey ranks 5th among all eligible drivers with an average finish of 14.13 with 142 laps led! Expect Logano to work with Keselowski all day as they did in the Clash race where all Penske drivers were running 1-2-3 at various points of the race.
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Ryan Blaney ($8,600): “Young” Ryan Blaney, as he’s called many times on the race telecast, won one of Thursday’s qualifying races and is looking to get his 1st win in the Cup series with his “new” team, Penske Racing. Blaney comes back to Penske Racing in a 3rd car, after spending two season with Wood Brothers Racing, who receives Penske support. With an upgrade in equipment, and immense talent, Blaney should have another breakout season, and that will start this Sunday.
Aric Almirola ($7,700): Which driver has the best average finish in the last eight resitrictor plate races? Jimmie Johnson? No. Kyle Busch? No. Martin Truex Jr.? Nope! Aric Almirola leads all drivers in average finish with a 10.71 average finish, though he has missed one race due to injury. Almirola has also upgraded teams, joining Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Clint Boyer at Stewart-Haas Racing in the #10 Ford. Like Blaney, Almirola wants to make a big impression in his first race with his new team.
Alex Bowman ($7,700): No driver this season has more pressure and a bigger shadow cast on him than Alex Bowman. Bowman replaces Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 Chevrolet. Bowman ran a handful of races for Earnhardt Jr in 2016 with mixed results, but had an impressive performance at Phoenix International Raceway that opened a lot of eyes. Bowman finally won his first Xfinity race (Nascar’s AAA series) last fall at Charlotte and won the pole position for Sunday’s race. Bowman is part of Hendrick Motorsports’ Young Gun movement with Chase Elliot and rookie William Bryon.
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($6,800): If you’re new to NASCAR and are looking for a favorite driver, I recommend starting with Wallace Jr. He has a great personality and will become a fan favorite early driving “King” Richard Petty’s famous #43, now Chevrolet. Richard Petty Motorsports joined forces with Richard Childress Racing to improve their racing program and it’s showing early with Wallace Jr finishing 3rd in one of Thursday’s qualifying races.
Ryan Newman ($6,600): If I made a category of a “Solid Sleeper”, Newman would be my selection. Newman is a veteran of the series now and doesn’t make mistakes to put himself in a bad situation. Look for him to outlast the accidents on Sunday and bring home a top 15 finish. Newman ahs averaged a 15th place finish in his last eight restrictor plate races with only one DNF.
Brendan Gaughan ($5,200): This bonus sleeper is a super sleeper with his value. Gaughan, now retired from full-time racing, ran the four restrictor plate races last year with the small Beard Motorsports. Gaughan had three top-20 finishes including a 7th place finish in last July’s Daytona race.
Good luck this week and let’s make some money! You can follow me on Twitter @ScottYoungLV and please shoot me any questions or comments.
*All driver stats are referenced from DriverAverages.com