The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Daytona International Speedway Saturday, July 2nd for the Coke Zero 400. Daytona marks the first repeat track on the 2016 Sprint Cup Series schedule.
Tony Stewart’s victory at Sonoma last week put more pressure on winless drivers looking to earn a Chase bid. Among the winless includes Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Chase Elliott. Despite a 36th place finish in the Daytona 500, Junior is the odds on favorite to win Saturday night. Rookie Chase Elliott was the pole sitter for the Daytona 500, but his race was ended prematurely after a wreck on lap 18 and he is looking for redemption.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when constructing your Coke Zero 400 Draftkings lineup.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($10,600) FPPR: 37.4 – Career at Daytona: 33 races, four wins, 13 top 5s, 19 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 13.4
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has two wins in the last five races at Daytona, including the July race last season. Other than the 36th-place finish in February, Junior’s last non-top-15 finish came back in 2011 when he finished 19th. Earnhardt is a restrictor plate aficionado, and should be the cornerstone of your fantasy lineup.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,100) FPPR 40.1 – Career at Daytona: 29 races, three wins, 11 top 5s, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 16.9
In three of the last five Daytona races, Jimmie Johnson has finished fifth or better, and in 2013, he swept both races at the super speedway. Johnson finished 16th in the Daytona 500 back in February and has since racked up two wins on the season.
Kevin Harvick ($10,300) FPPR: 66.9 – Career at Daytona: 30 races, two wins, nine top 5s, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 15.4
Kevin Harvick finished fourth in the Daytona 500, and in 2015, he finished in the top five in both Daytona races. Harvick has 13 top-10 finishes through 16 races so far in 2016, and sits atop the Sprint Cup Series standings.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,500 – $9,999
Denny Hamlin ($9,800) FPPR: 29.5 – Career at Daytona: 21 races, six top 5s, seven top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 17.1
It would be silly not to include the driver who won the Daytona 500 to start the season. Hamlin has finished within the top-6 in the last six Daytona races. Hamlin has had an up-and-down 2016 since winning in February, but a second place finish last weekend at Sonoma may be a sign that the #11 team is back on track.
Matt Kenseth ($8,600) FPPR: 35.7 – Career at Daytona: 33 races, two wins, six top 5s, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 17.8
Running at the front of the pack on the backstretch during the last lap of the Daytona 500, it looked like Kenseth would be the first driver to see victory lane in 2016. A costly decision to block the high-line caused him to lose control of his car, resulting in a 14th place finish. In the last seven races at Daytona, Kenseth has an average finish of 24th, which results in a good value price on Draftkings.. The #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will have plenty of speed Saturday night.
Chase Elliott ($8,800) FPPR: 39.7 – Career at Daytona: One race, one pole
Average finish at Daytona: 37th
The rookie started the season off hot by winning the pole for the Daytona 500. A trip through the tri-oval grass after spinning out on lap 18 resulted in a less than ideal 37th place finish. Chase Elliott won the Xfinity race at Daytona in February, and there is no question he can get it done at the Sprint Cup level. If he avoids trouble, Elliott could make his first trip to victory lane.
Honorable Mentions: Joey Logano ($9,700), Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500), Carl Edwards ($9,300)
MID TIER: $7,500 – $8,499
Tony Stewart: ($8,300) FPPR: 26.6 – Career at Daytona: 34 races, nine top 5s, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 18.4
Following a hard fought battle for the win with Denny Hamlin during the last lap of last week’s race at Sonoma, Stewart is a dark horse favorite to win Saturday night. Stewart missed the earlier trip to Daytona while recovering from an offseason injury. At Talladega, Stewart swapped out with Ty Dillon during the first caution, so this is the first real look at Tony Stewart at a restrictor plate track in 2016. Nonetheless, ‘Smoke’ has been incredibly successful at Daytona in July.
Austin Dillon: ($7,900) FPPR: 28.6 – Career at Daytona: Six races, one top 5, four top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 12.5
When people think of Austin Dillon at Daytona, flashbacks of his horrific crash come to mind. What many fail to remember is that Dillon finished ninth before he went airborne, and raised his Daytona top-15 streak to five races. Austin Dillon is the best active driver when it comes to average finish at Daytona (12.5), and that includes a 31st place finish during his first start at the track in 2013. Both Richard Childress Racing and Dillon have showed speed at the superspeedways, and he will be another driver to watch for on Saturday.
Jamie McMurray: ($7,800) FPPR: 31.9 – Career at Daytona: 27 races, two wins, three top 5s, five top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 23.1
Two of Jamie McMurray’s seven career wins have come at Daytona. McMurray has been fairly middle of the road in 2016, but there was a time when he was a threat to win any time he stepped into a car at a restrictor plate track. Teammate Kyle Larson has shown the ability to run up front in the same equipment many times this season, so it’s safe to say McMurray has a shot to surprise.
Honorable Mention: Kasey Kahne ($8,400)
BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,499
Ryan Blaney: ($6,800) FPPR: 28.6 – Career at Daytona: Two races, one top 20
Average finish at Daytona: 29
In his first start at Daytona last season, Ryan Blaney lost his engine with just under 30 laps to go. Blaney was running eighth at the time. Blaney responded with a 19th place finish earlier this season. The Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford has shown top-tier speed through race weekend and picked up a 12th-place starting bid for Saturday night. Blaney is looking for his first career win and is priced at an incredible value for this race.
Trevor Bayne: ($6,200) FPPR 25.8 – Career at Daytona: 11 races, one win, one top 5, two top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 26.3
Trevor Bayne played Cinderella back in 2011 when he won the Daytona 500 as a rookie part-time driver for the Wood Brothers. In the following eight races, Bayne finished within the top-20 only once. Since moving to Roush Fenway Racing, Bayne has found more success, finishing ninth last July. Bayne qualified 13th for Saturday night’s race and has shown much improvement throughout the 2016 season. Bayne’s stock is rising, and can be had for great value this weekend.
Aric Almirola: ($6,600) FPPR 20.9 – Career at Daytona: 10 races, one win, one top 5, one top 10
Average Finish at Daytona: 23.4
Much like Trevor Bayne’s victory, Aric Almirola was a surprise winner of the Coke Zero 400 in 2014. Unlike Bayne, Almirola has shown more consistency at Daytona. Almirola has three top-15 finishes since 2014, including a 12th place finish in this years’ Daytona 500. There may not be a cheaper option for a driver with the ability to finish in the top half of the field.
– Josh Wise ($4,700) failed to qualify for the Coke Zero 400.
– Hendrick Motorsports needs one more win at Daytona to tie the Wood Brothers for the most wins at the track with 15.
– In 138 races at Daytona, 26 have been won by the driver starting on the pole. Greg Biffle ($6,500) is looking to raise that number to 27.
– 78% of winning drivers have started in the top-10.
– Only 7% of drivers have won from 21st or worse at Daytona. Kevin Harvick (21st) and Chase Elliott (24th) are the notables beyond the threshold.
All stats courtesy of racing-reference