NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch Fantasy Insider: Red, White & Checkers

It’s Independence Day weekend! As millions of Americans across the country will be celebrating that hallowed day back in 1776 when our Founding Fathers led the charge in declaring themselves free from a tyrannical foe (only back then it was a foreign government, not domestic), stock car racing will be celebrating a return to its most hallowed grounds: the Daytona International Speedway. Restrictor-plate racing under the lights on the Fourth of July is a guaranteed recipe for fireworks, and the Frontstretch Fantasy Insider will make sure they’re going off in your pit stall Saturday night.

By the Numbers

Best Average Finish at Daytona International Speedway (since 2005, active drivers)
Clint Bowyer, 7 starts, 11.1
Tony Stewart, 9 starts, 14.0 (2 wins)
David Ragan, 5 starts, 14.0
Elliott Sadler, 9 starts, 14.6
Kasey Kahne, 9 starts, 14.8

2008 Coke Zero 400 Top-Five Finishers
Kyle Busch, 31 laps led
Carl Edwards, 1 lap led
Matt Kenseth, 0 laps led
Kurt Busch, 0 laps led
David Ragan, 0 laps led

Mortar Shells

The last few races at Daytona have certainly not been up to his high standards, but that’s not a sign that Jeff Gordon has forgotten his away around the high banks. The three-time Daytona 500 champ won this race back in 2005, has led multiple laps in the past four races run at Daytona and was a prime contender in the 500 earlier this season before a rain-shortened ending bit the entire Hendrick Motorsports camp. Gordon’s riding a string of four consecutive top 10s headed into this weekend, and come Sunday morning that streak will be at five. – Bryan

Kyle Busch has taken to plate racing as well as he has all other types of tracks on the Cup schedule. Busch has won at Daytona and Talladega. Although he’s been having a bit of bad luck of late, his plate ability should help him turn that luck around. He didn’t finish that well the first time through the plate tracks this year – he led 88 laps at Daytona before a wreck relegated him to a 41st-place finish and led 42 laps at Talladega before ending up a lap down and finishing 25th. Look for the Shrub to get back on track this weekend with a strong run up front at Daytona. – Mike

Roman Candles

Tony Stewart. The hottest driver in NASCAR. At Daytona… in a race he’s won twice before. In a de facto Hendrick Motorsports car. Need any more convincing that the No. 14 is money this weekend? – Bryan

Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Daytona. There isn’t anything else to say. But I’ll add a little fuel to the fire, Earnhardt has the fourth-best average finish among active drivers at 14.2. Even if he doesn’t win this weekend, he’ll be up at the front of the pack. – Mike

Lady Fingers

Brad Keselowski is still a Nationwide Series driver, but already has gone done as the winner of one of the most dramatic plate races in NASCAR history this season. Driving the stalwart No. 09 machine that has finished in the top 10 at Daytona multiple times in recent seasons (Mike Wallace finished ninth with the same team in 2003 and fourth in 2007), Keselowski will be behind the wheel of a machine that has the goods to get it done in a plate race. Plus, he’s already got three top 10 finishes in Cup races this year. – Bryan

Regan Smith will finish the race if he qualifies for it. He has finished every race that he has started in the Cup series. Smith has also done a great job qualifying for races with the Furniture Row team, and we all know he does well running plate races after he was robbed of the win at Talladega last year. So far this year he has finished 21st and 15th at Daytona and Talladega. Smith can most likely be picked up very cheaply in fantasy leagues and will bring home a quality finish… as long as he makes the race. – Mike

Last Word

It is wild card time once again for fantasy players. The best laid plans of mice and men can go out the window in the blink of an eye during a plate race. One minute an owner’s team is running first, second and third, and the next minute they are all upside down and flipping down the backstretch. Do your best to load up with established plate racers and veterans who are good at staying out of dangerous spots, then cross your fingers that you get lucky and don’t lose everything in the Big One.

Results of our experts in the Frontstretch Games

Game of Tomorrow

Bryan – 4540
Mike – 4145

Hat Dance Dynasty

Bryan – 3529
Mike – 3323

Frontstretch Fourplay

Bryan – 8697
Mike – 7898

To help the readers track how well our experts are doing, we’ll keep track of the cumulative points scored by all three drivers every week and the total for the season.

Totals

Bryan 346 5934
Mike 286 5709

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