Matt Kenseth Fantasy Racing
Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR

Matt Kenseth – It will be hard to go wrong if Matt Kenseth is your fantasy pick to win the Daytona 500. No driver was more impressive than him in last years race. He dominated the event before an engine failure while he was leading with about a quarter of the race remaining. Before his early exit he led more than half the laps completed at the time. He led 86 laps, earned the 5th best driver rating and still had an 11th place average running position despite the fact he failed to complete 51 laps. That’s pretty impressive in my book. A good indicator as to how strong a driver really was in the race is reflected in ifantasyrace.com’s exclusive PROS Rankings. He’s PROS Rankings for that event ranked #1. If he didn’t have engine problems he was clearly the driver to beat. In the July Daytona race Kenseth had a top ten car but he was never really a contender for the win. He started 2nd, led the first lap and then after that he ran around 10th for much of the evening until he was involved in a late wreck with about 10 laps to go. In his next three most recent Daytona starts prior to 2013 he had results of 1st, 2nd and 3rd. His first was in the 2012 Daytona 500. In 2009 he also won the biggest race of the year. At Talladega in 2013 Kenseth had a good car in both races. In the spring he had one of the cars to beat but got shuffled out of line late. In that race he finished 8th and led 142 laps. In the fall he led 32 laps and finished 20th. In 2012 on restrictor plate tracks he scored the most points in the series, won twice and had a 2.0 average finish. Make sure Matt Kenseth is on your short list of fantasy picks for the 2014 Daytona 500. When it comes to navigating the draft he has Top Tier Elite talent. (Yahoo A Driver)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a popular fantasy NASCAR pick at Daytona. He’s a two-time winner and has finished in the top ten 57% percent of the time. In his 28 Daytona starts his 13.8 average finish ranks as the best in the series among active drivers. Over the last four Daytona races his average finish also ranks as the best in the series (6.75). Recently in the Daytona 500 no driver has been more consistent than him. In three of the last four season openers he’s finished 2nd. Consistency is arguably the number one attribute fantasy racers look for in a pick at tracks such as Daytona where attrition rates can be high. Last year at Daytona Dale Earnhardt Jr. had strong performances in both races. In the Daytona 500 he drove outside the top ten for much of the race but when it was time to go he teamed up with Mark Martin and worked his way up to a 2nd place result. In July he finished 8th and earned the 4th best driver rating. In the 2012 Daytona 500 he finished runner-up and beat Greg Biffle to the finish line by inches. In 2004 Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500. That’s also his most recent Daytona victory. At Talladega last fall Earnhardt finished 2nd and led 38 laps. In 2013 on restrictor plate tracks Earnhardt Jr. scored the 2nd most points and had the second best average finish (7.3). (Yahoo A Driver)

Make sure you read: Daytona Front Runner Rankings, Daytona Mid Pack Predictions, Daytona Scouting Report (2013 Daytona 500), Daytona Scouting Report (2013 July), PROS Rankings – 2013 Daytona 500, PROS Rankings – 2013 July, All of our driver previews

Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson accomplished a rare feat at Daytona last year. He was the first driver since 1982 to win both Daytona races in the same season. The last driver who swept Daytona was Bobby Allison. At NASCAR’s most famous track Jimmie Johnson was dominant in 2013. His car handled the best in the field and was extremely strong on the bottom line. In July Jimmie Johnson crushed the competition. He led 94 laps, had the best PROS Rankings and earned the best driver rating by a wide margin. In the Daytona 500 he was very impressive. He earned the best driver rating, led 17 laps and had a 5th place average running position. Late in the race Johnson led a line of cars around the bottom groove of the track up to the front. When he got a few inches ahead of Keselowski (leader at the time) he was aided by a timely debris caution that got him in the preferred groove. After that the win was essentially sealed for him. In 2006 Johnson won his first race at Daytona in the 500. At Talladega last season the 48 car was also strong in both races. In the spring he finished 5th and led 16 laps and in the fall he finished 13th and led 47 laps. It’s clear this team found something that has helped them on this track type with the Gen 6 car. In 2013 on plate tracks Johnson scored the most points in the series and had a 5.0 average finish. (Yahoo A Driver)

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