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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR DAYTONA
1. Tony Stewart: In 10 starts at Daytona International Speedway, Stewart has five wins, six Top Fives, seven Top 10s and one pole. He's won the last three February events at Daytona, leading at least 23 laps in each. Smoke is the ultimate Elimination format play, considering his reign of dominance at Daytona, and the fact this will probably be his only Nationwide Series appearance in 2011. He made just one start in 2010 and three in 2009. In 2008, he won five races in just nine starts. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Stewart leads all competitors in Driver Rating (113.1) and ranks eighth in Average Running Position (9.6). Fantasy owners need to get Stewart into any and all lineups.
2. Kyle Busch: In 14 starts at Daytona, Busch has one win (2007), five Top Fives, six Top 10s and one pole - though all of those stats have come within his last seven starts. He's led at least five laps in his last eight starts at the site. Despite finishing seventh in the 2010 July event, Busch wasn't his usual prevailing self on restrictor plate tracks. He finished 18th in the Daytona opener and 34th at Talladega a season ago. But, he is coming off the most dominant season in Nationwide Series history, with a record 13 wins in 29 starts. Busch ranks fourth in DR (107.4) and fifth in ARP (9.1). He leads all competitors in Laps Led (227) and Laps in the Top 15 (1,103).
3. Brad Keselowski: In six starts at the site, Keselowski has two Top Fives, three Top 10s and one pole. He's led at least three laps in four of his last five Daytona appearances. Keselowski was fantastic at Superspeedways in 2010, with a fourth-place finish at the July Daytona event and a win at Talladega. He led at least three laps in all three restrictor plate races last season. After finishing 13th at the season opener last February, Keselowski reeled off eight straight Top Fives and 16 consecutive Top 10s. Keselowski ranks ninth in DR (99.0) and fourth in ARP (8.9). As always, he's an elite option in every format.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale Jr. returns to Daytona after an extremely emotional win in July behind the wheel of his father's No. 3 Wrangler. In 19 starts at the site, Earnhardt Jr. has six wins, nine Top Fives, 11 Top 10s and one pole. His first four wins were from 2002-2004, and his fifth came in 2006. He's led at least seven laps in his last two starts at the site. Turning back the clock, from 2002-2007, Junior led at least five laps in 10 straight Daytona events. Earnhardt Jr. ranks sixth in DR (106.1) and 10th in ARP (10.4). He leads all competitors in Fastest Laps Run (73) and ranks second in Laps Led (221). He's the No. 2 Elimination format play behind Stewart, and should be started in all formats.
5. Joey Logano: In four starts at Daytona, Logano has two Top Fives and three Top 10s. He led his first lap in last season's July event. His Average Finish in his last three starts at the site is 4.3. On top of seventh and second-place finishes at Daytona in 2010, Logano finished second at Talladega. Logano's 24 Top 10s in 25 starts last season established him as an elite Nationwide Series driver, no matter the track type. Logano ranks seventh in DR (103.6) and third in ARP (8.0). He leads all competitors in Quality Passes (417). Fantasy owners should expect approximately 22 races out of Logano in 2011, and he'll be a force each time he competes.
6. Carl Edwards: In 12 starts at the site, Edwards has five Top Fives and seven Top 10s. He also has three 11th-place finishes since 2007. Edwards has led at least two laps in four of his past five Daytona starts. While he was solid at Daytona in 2010, he laid a 35th-place egg at Talladega. Edwards ranks 11th in DR (97.6) and 15th in ARP (13.1). He's a fine Tiered/Grouping format option, but there are safer venues to use him at.
7. Clint Bowyer: In 11 starts at the site, Bowyer has one win (2009), seven Top Fives, nine Top 10s and one pole. He's led at least three laps in six of his last seven appearances at the site. Bowyer ranks third in DR (110.6) and leads all competitors in ARP (6.8). He ranks second in Laps in the Top 15 (1,102). He's going to turn in a great performance, but he's scheduled to make nine starts in 2011. That means Bowyer can be used as an Elimination format option in a more strategic manner later on in the season.
8. Kasey Kahne: In 15 starts at the site, Kahne has two Top Fives and seven Top 10s. Though he does have seven DNFs and has led laps in just two Daytona appearances, he offers a certain level of consistency as he's recorded three straight Top 10s at the site. Kahne ranks 16th in DR (88.5) and 18th in ARP (15.3). Kahne has a lot to prove after a rocky 2010, and will contribute solid Fantasy stats in Tiered/Grouping formats.
9. Justin Allgaier: In four starts at the site, Allgaier has one Top Five and two Top 10s. He led 11 laps in the 2010 July event. Allgaier finished fourth in the 2010 Nationwide Series standings, behind Keselowski, Edwards and Busch. He's in a tough spot, because if he doesn't do better than fourth in the standings this season, it would seem he didn't improve. If he wants to take the next step into the Nationwide elite, a win at Daytona would be a good place to start. He ranks 21st in DR (85.0) and 17th in ARP (15.1).
10. Reed Sorenson: In seven starts at Daytona, Sorenson has three Top 10s. He showed some rust in his 22nd -place finish in the July 2010 event, his first appearance at the site since 2007. He's never led a single lap at Daytona. In his last two starts at Talladega, he finished in 40th and 29th-place, which is not very inspiring, but his solid overall performance in 2010 should ease the mind of Fantasy owners. Sorenson ranks 25th in DR (82.7) and in ARP (16.8). He's a solid option in all formats this weekend.
11. Elliott Sadler: In three starts at the site, Sadler has one pole (1997) and an Average Finish of 26.3. 67.0 DR.
12. Brian Scott: Average Finish of 24.5 in two starts at the site.
13. Trevor Bayne: Average Finish of 34th in two starts at the site. 65.1 DR.
14. Jason Leffler: Four Top 10s in 14 starts at the site. 79.1 DR.
15. Aric Almirola: Average Finish of 23.5 in two starts at the site, but he does have one pole (2007) and an Average Start of second on the grid. 59.8 DR.
16. Sam Hornish Jr.: 56.6 DR.
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 85.5.
18. Michael Annett: 73.8.
19. Steve Wallace: 70.2.
20. Scott Wimmer: 65.9.
21. Eric McClure
22. Mike Bliss
23. Kelly Bires
24. Michael Waltrip
25. Danica Patrick
Adam was a 2010 Fantasy Sports Writers Awards Association nominee for Racing Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.
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