The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its way back to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. The green flag flies at 7 p.m. ET on NBC. It’s the latest race for FanDuel’s daily fantasy NASCAR contest.
Play at fanduel.com/frontstretch this weekend and you could win $450 cash! First prize also includes a COMPLETE Pocono Weekend experience for the Gander Outdoors 400 the end of the month.
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FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 160-lap race will only have a total of 16 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 this weekend.
ELITE TIER: $10,600 and up
Joey Logano ($11,800)
Daytona: 19 starts, one win, five top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 16.6
Logano has become a top restrictor plate racer over the past few seasons. At Daytona specifically, he has five top-six finishes in the last seven races. That resume also includes a Daytona 500 win to start the 2015 MENCS season.
Logano also knows how to keep the car clean, which is a big deal with FanDuel points being awarded for laps completed. He only has three DNFs in his 19 career starts at the track.
Logano’s only 2018 win to date came at Talladega, the other restrictor plate race on the schedule. The No. 22 Ford has been too consistent not to cash in elsewhere this season; Daytona’s a great opportunity.
Denny Hamlin ($11,500)
Daytona: 25 starts, one win, seven top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 16.8
Hamlin has one win at Daytona, eking out a victory in the 2016 Daytona 500. That win was the fifth race of a sixth-or-better finish streak dating from 2014 to 2016. Since then, he has had three mediocre finishes, 17th (twice) and 24th. However, Hamlin bounced back with a third-place finish back in February.
This Joe Gibbs Racing veteran is another driver who rarely wrecks at Daytona. Hamlin has only failed to finish the race twice in 25 career starts.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,900 – $10,500
Clint Bowyer ($10,500)
Daytona: 25 starts, four top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 15.8
Bowyer has finished inside the top 10 in the last three July Daytona races. He finished 10th in 2015, ninth in 2016 and second last season. He also led at least one lap in each of those events.
In addition, Bowyer has the second-best average finish at Daytona among active drivers with more than two starts. He has been on a career resurgence in 2018, already picking up two wins, and drives for the top team in the sport right now (Stewart-Haas Racing). Expect him to be a force to be reckoned with.
Aric Almirola ($10,100)
Daytona: 13 starts, one win, two top fives, two top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 20.3
Almirola was a half-lap away from winning the 2018 Daytona 500 before he was moved out of the way by race winner Austin Dillon. While disappointing, that event was the start of what has become an excellent year for Almirola. He has been fast every week and is on pace to shatter his career highs in multiple categories.
At Daytona, Almirola is sneaky good. He won this race in 2014 and has only finished outside the top 15 once since then. He finished fourth in his only Daytona start a season ago and, as mentioned before, he fell to an 11th-place result earlier this season. Add in a promising Chicagoland performance, where he was in contention for victory before loose wheels derailed the effort and the No. 10 car is primed to run up front.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($10,000)
Daytona: 12 starts, one win, two top fives, three top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 18.9
Stenhouse is the defending race winner going into the weekend. His Coke Zero 400 win last July was an exciting one and put the young driver on the map as a threat at restrictor plate tracks. He also won at Talladega in 2017.
This driver is as aggressive as they come when it comes to pack racing. He does not shy away from risky moves, which can sometimes hinder his performance. That was the case in the 2018 Daytona 500 when Stenhouse was caught in a wreck with just over 60 laps to go. He did lead 11 circuits and ran up front most of the race… but that’s small consolation for your roster.
That means this Roush Fenway Racing pick will be a boom-or-bust selection this week. His driving style can either win him the race or cost him a shot at even finishing.
Austin Dillon ($9,200)
Daytona: 10 starts, one win, two top fives, six top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 13.8
Dillon has the best average finish among active drivers with more than two starts at Daytona. He won the Daytona 500 earlier this season in a controversial ending, easily his best run of a down year otherwise. He also has five other top-10 performances at the track in 10 total career starts.
Dillon’s only DNF at Daytona came in this race in 2017. Before that, he had six-out-of-seven races with finishes inside the top 15.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,800 and below
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($7,300)
Daytona: Two starts, one top five, one top 10
Average finish at Daytona: 8.5
Wallace has been impressive in only two starts at Daytona. He made his debut as a substitute for Almirola last season and finished 15th after starting 31st. In the Daytona 500 earlier this season, he then finished second in an emotional first start as a full-time MENCS driver.
Wallace is cheap this week, but has proven he can maneuver his way to the front at Daytona. He will be a popular pick for Saturday’s race.
Brendan Gaughan ($5,000)
Daytona: Six starts, one top 10
Average finish at Daytona: 21.5
2018 is the first season in which Gaughan is no longer a full-time driver at any level in NASCAR. He retired from the sport’s XFINITY Series but is running select races for Beard Motorsports at the Cup level.
Gaughan has been racing at Daytona sporadically over the past three seasons, and he has finished well considering the equipment he has been running. In four starts since 2015, he has not finished worse than 28th. At a salary that is literally bottom of the barrel, 28th would be more than fine.
The thing is, in 2017, running for this same team, Gaughan finished 11th and seventh in the two Daytona races. If he can run anywhere near that well on Saturday at a $5,000 salary, he will be in the winning lineup.