1) Chase Elliott (Starting – 4th)
Daytona Fantasy Spin – Chase Elliott has a fast car and in the Daytona 500 I think he has a great chance to reach victory lane. He’s been saving his first win for a special occasion, and I can’t think of anything more appropriate then winning his first race in the Daytona 500 driving the #9. This car is extremely strong and in his Duel 150 he led 34 laps and raced his way to victory lane. His car also appeared to handle really well and on Sunday that’s what will separate the contenders from the pretenders. Last year in the Daytona 500 he nearly raced his way to victory lane but fuel mileage robbed him at the end. On Sunday he’ll be looking to right that wrong. If he avoids trouble I would look for him to finish in the top five, and compete for the win.
Daytona Track History – Chase Elliott will be flying somewhat below the radar at Daytona because of his 26.3 average finish. That’s certainly not anything to get excited about, but don’t let it scare you away. When you combine his performances this week along with how he performed in both races last year, then you know he’s primed for a strong showing. Last summer at Daytona, Elliott had a pretty good race and easily looked top ten good but on lap 95 while he was running in the top ten he spun into the grass and damaged his car. When the checkered flag waved he finished 22nd. In last years Daytona 500 he arguably had the best car but during the closing laps while he was in control of the race and leading he stumbled on fuel. In that race he led 39 laps, finished 14th, and earned the 7th best driver rating. In the Thursday night prior to that Daytona 500 he won his Duel 150. In 2016 at Daytona he finished in the 30’s both races, I’m not viewing either of those races as relevant.
2) Joey Logano (Starting – 5th)
Daytona Fantasy Spin – Joey Logano is a recent Daytona 500 winner who’ll be one of the favorites. He’s an elite drafting talent who ranks as one of the best on this track type. At Daytona, Logano’s been strong all week. He finished 2nd in his Duel 150, and 2nd in his Clash. It’s clear Penske Racing will be a power house in the Daytona 500 and Logano will likely be leading the pack. On Sunday I would look for Logano to compete for a top five and be a serious threat to win.
Daytona Track History – Joey Logano has performed at a high-level at Daytona. In 4 of the last 6 races he’s finished in the top six. Last July, Logano appeared to have a strong car, but he was taken out in the lap #70 “Big One” which relegated him to a 35th place finish. At the time of his wreck he was running around 10th. In Stage #1 he finished 5th. In last years Daytona 500 he was strong. When the checkered flag waved he finished 6th, earned the 6th best driver rating and led 16 laps. At the end he had a very fast car but nobody would help him. In 2016 at Daytona he finished in the top ten both races. In July 2016 he had a fast car and was a consistent front runner. When the checkered flag waved he finished 4th and earned the 2nd best driver rating. In the 2016 Daytona 500 he finished 6th and earned the 7th best driver rating. In the 2015 Daytona 500 Logano raced his way to victory lane and led 31 laps.
Further Recommended Reading – Starting Lineup, DraftKings Start Page, DraftKings Playability Value Chart, Daytona 500 Likely Finish Ranges, Practice Notes/ Practice Speeds Center, PROS Rankings, PROS Rankings Extended Edition, Asterisk Mark Report, Daytona Scouting Report
3) Denny Hamlin (Starting – 2nd)
Daytona Fantasy Spin – Denny Hamlin is really confident in his car heading into the Daytona 500. I like that attribute about him. A confident Denny Hamlin, is typically a dangerous Denny Hamlin to the competition. On a year to year basis Hamlin ranks as one of the best on this track type. Last year he scored the 6th most points, in the three prior seasons he scored the 4th, 5th and 1st most points. On Sunday I would look for Hamlin to compete for a top five finish from his second place starting position.
Daytona Track History – Daytona has been a great track for Denny Hamlin. In 5 of the last 8 races he’s finished in the top 6. His last three races haven’t played out the most favorable for him, but he’s been good in those events despite what his results show. Last summer, Hamlin had a good car but finished 24th after spinning with 3 laps to go. At the time of his incident he was running around 10th. In the race he led 16 laps and finished 2nd in Stage #2. In the 2017 Daytona 500 he had a good car but finished 17th after getting damage in a wreck that made him less competitive. In summer 2016 he also finished 17th. Performance wise he was easily top ten good, but at the end of the race he decided to get “racy” and that dropped him in the running order. With 9 laps to go he was running in 6th. In the 2016 Daytona 500, Hamlin had a great car and raced his way from 4th to 1st on the final lap. Additionally he earned the best driver rating, led 95 laps and had a 4th place average running position. In the four Daytona races prior to that he had results of 3rd, 4th, 6th and 2nd.