Joey Logano will start from the front as the lineup was set by the rule book for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway (1 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Does he merit a spot in your Fantasy Live lineup? We’ve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration.
RJ Kraft’s Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Daytona:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Ryan Blaney
3. Alex Bowman
4. Ryan Newman
5. Austin Dillon
Garage: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Analysis: I am treating this race as a bit of a reset for the final eight so that means the top drivers who I want to conserve uses with — Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski — are off limits. I don’t want to be caught burning a use from a race that could see some wrecks.
By and large, I am going with drivers who have fared well at Daytona in the past, as well as drivers I could see being aggressive for stage points. Blaney has the most stage points in the past three Daytona races — he simply struggles to get the finishes. Newman, Dillon and Stenhouse should all be aggressive for stage points as they need to make up ground in the standings, and Dillon and Stenhouse have won at Daytona in the past three years. I have five uses left on Hamlin and frankly, I’m not sure I’ll use him that much down the stretch, so I’m plugging him in here to not leave a use on the table. Bowman gets the nod because I have the uses and he has been quietly solid at Daytona in the past three races here.
Strategies make the bonus picks pretty tough to predict, so I am going to select a driver across the board for all three — the Stage 1, Stage 2 and race win — figuring that I’ll get one of them right. Since I’m not playing Logano, I’ll use the bonus picks as a chance to get points out of the man who will lead the field to green — I already got the five for the “pole.”
Each week in this space, we’ll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.
1. Which driver scores more points: Michael McDowell or David Ragan? Ragan has a win in this race — in 2011, but McDowell has been one of the best drivers at Daytona over the past two years — three top 10s in the past four races. Ragan has three finishes of 25th or worse in his last five Daytona starts.
2. O/U 13.5 different drivers score stage points. I like the over here. Simply put, do you think four drivers will score stage points in Stage 2 that don’t earn stage points in Stage 1. I certainly do and the numbers in this race back that up. In this race last year, 15 different drivers scored stage points. In the 2017 edition, 17 different drivers earned stage points.