Daytona 500 Fantasy NASCAR Elite Top Tier Picks
Credit: Todd Warshar/Getty Images for NASCAR

Kevin Harvick – As I said in his 2012 Fantasy Preview, if you need a default pick on the plate tracks take Harvick. The 2007 Daytona 500 champion is arguably the best plate racer in the series. Last year in the 500 he had engine problems early but let’s not hold that against him. In the three most recent Daytona races where he didn’t have problems he finished 7th, 1st and 7th. In those 3 races he averaged by far the most points per race in the series (42 points per race compared to second best Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 36 points per race). RCR cars are traditionally the best of the best on plate tracks and he’s their best driver. Pick him now. (Yahoo A Driver) <– I LIKE IT

Carl Edwards – As I mentioned in the Daytona 500: Mid Pack Projections post only Juan Pablo Montoya and Carl Edwards have finished in the top ten in four out of the last five races at Daytona. His one finish outside the top ten was in last July’s Coke Zero 400 where he got turned running in the top five by teammate Greg Biffle. Edwards has finished in the top ten in six of the last nine Daytona races. In last years Great American race he finished second to Trevor Bayne. (Yahoo A Driver)

Tony Stewart – The 2011 Champ has three wins at Daytona in the summer race but he’s still looking for his first Daytona 500 win. His most recent Daytona win was in the 2009 summer night race when he turned Kyle Busch coming to the checkered flag. That was also his last top ten finish at this venue. Stewart has won everything there is to win at Daytona except the “big one” but that could easily change this Sunday in the 2012 Daytona 500. With ten different winners in the last ten years this could easily be his year. (Yahoo A Driver)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Daytona and Earnhardt’s go hand in hand. Last year he didn’t have success at Daytona but he has a pattern going on. In even year races at Daytona since 2008 his average finish is 5.75. His odd year average finish since 2007 is 29.5. Take this stat for what it’s worth. You can’t question his prowess in the draft though. He’s as good as anyone in this discipline and I think he’s primed for a good finish. (Yahoo B Driver)

Looking for Expert Picks for the Daytona 500?

Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch is always strong at Daytona whether it’s the Daytona 500 or the July night race. When you extrapolate his loop data out to 2007 his driver rating is by far the best in the series (107.2 compared to second best Kurt Busch’s 99.1). He’s also lead in every race since then and has paced the pack for the most laps led (270). He’s never won the Daytona 500 but he did win the 2008 night race. (Yahoo A Driver)

Jeff Gordon – Gordon is one of the big name drivers who I would steer clear of for the Daytona 500. Since his 2005 Daytona 500 win his average finish in “The Great American Race” is 23.6. I like him a lot more in the summer night race. In the last two July races he’s finished 6th and 3rd. You can’t count out this three time 500 champion but his luck has been down in this race. (Yahoo A Driver)

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