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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR DAYTONA
1. Kevin Harvick: In 19 starts at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick has two wins (2007, 2010), five Top Fives, eight Top 10s and one pole. He's led a total of 69 laps in his past two starts at the site and owns an Average Finish of 14.5. No driver dominated restrictor plate races like Harvick in 2010. He finished in seventh and first place at Daytona and first and second place at Talladega, the other restrictor plate track on the circuit. In 56 career restrictor plate events, Harvick has four wins, 14 Top Fives and 24 Top 10s. Harvick ranks seventh in Driver Rating (88.5) and 11th in Average Running Position (16.6). He leads all competitors with 61 Fastest Laps Run. He's the top Fantasy play in all formats.
2. Kyle Busch: In 12 starts at the site, Busch has one win (2008) and four Top Fives. Busch has been below average in his past four starts at Daytona, with two 40th-or-worse place finishes and two DNFs in that span. Despite that, he's led at least one lap in his last eight starts at the site and in nine of his last 10. Prior to his recent four race cold streak, Busch collected three straight Top Five finishes including a win. In 30 career restrictor plate events, Busch has two wins, six Top Fives and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 19.9. He ranks second in DR (99.0) and in ARP (12.1). Busch will be undervalued in Tiered/Grouping formats, though his aggressive driving style will pay Fantasy dividends.
3. Clint Bowyer: In 10 starts at Daytona, Bowyer has two Top Fives and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 12.8. In 2010, he finished in fourth and second place at Daytona and first and seventh place at Talladega. He led 19 and 37 laps in each of last season's Daytona events. Bowyer is fairly consistent at the site, never going more than one race without a Top 10. In 25 starts at Superspeedways, Bowyer has the one win at Talladega, six Top Fives, 12 Top 10s and an Average Finish of 15.2. He ranks eighth in DR (86.7) and 10th in ARP (15.7). Bowyer is the elite Tiered/Grouping format B-List driver in the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game.
4. Jeff Gordon: In 36 starts at the site, Gordon has six wins, 12 Top Fives, 18 Top 10s and three poles. Forget about Gordon's 65 race winless streak, because it doesn't apply to Fantasy NASCAR - Top Fives are just as important. In 112 Superspeedway starts, Gordon has 20 wins, 42 Top Fives and 59 Top 10s. Considering Gordon is still an elite performer, I'll take those numbers over some winless streak. Though Gordon's struggled to find his Daytona mojo between 2008 and 2010 (Average Finish of 27th), he returned to form with a third-place finish in the July event. He ranks fourth in DR (92.8) and third in ARP (12.2). Gordon is a safe start in all formats, and still has a ton of Fantasy upside.
5. Tony Stewart: In 24 starts at Daytona, Stewart has three wins, seven Top Fives, 12 Top 10s and one pole. Stewart had a forgettable 2010 at Daytona with an Average Finish of 23.5, but he did manage to lead laps in one of the two events. Restrictor plate events are unpredictable, so don't put too much stock into last season's below average performances. From 2004-2007, Smoke led at least 12 laps in seven consecutive events and logged six straight Top 10 finishes with an Average Finish of 3.5 in that span. He leads all competitors in DR (100.7) and ranks fourth in ARP (13.1). Smoke is one of the top A-List options this weekend.
6. Jamie McMurray: In 16 starts at the site, McMurray has two wins (2007, 2010), three Top Fives and four Top 10s. Based on his two impressive 2010 performances at restrictor plate events he could be ranked higher, but his inconsistencies can't be ignored. He has six DNFs at the site, and his lack of Top 10s is troubling. He's led laps in just three events at Daytona. Last season he finished in first and 39th place at Daytona and in second and 36th place at Talladega. He ranks 14th in DR (81.3) and 13th in ARP (17.4). McMurray is a boom-or-bust driver who definitely deserves a spot on all B-List provisional lineups.
7. Jimmie Johnson: In 18 starts at the site, Johnson has one win (2006), six Top Fives, nine Top 10s and two poles. He ranks fifth in DR (91.7) and leads all competitors in ARP (11.0). Johnson's been awful at Daytona for the better part of his last nine starts. He has three DNFs and has led laps in just three events in that span, with just two Top 10s. But, he's the five-time defending Sprint Cup champion, so his recent slide at Daytona isn't as disturbing as it should be. While I believe he will turn in a quality start, a restrictor plate event is not a good spot to use a Tiered/Grouping format start on Johnson. Save those valuable starts for tracks where Johnson has consistent success.
8. Kurt Busch: In 20 starts at the site, Busch has nine Top Fives and 11 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 17th. He's recorded four Top Fives and six Top 10s in his last seven starts at Daytona, an incredible feat considering the tracks unpredictability. Busch has led at least one lap in his last three Daytona appearances. While he has zero wins at Superspeedways, he does have 31 Top 10s in 58 tries. He ranks third in DR (94.8) and fifth in ARP (14.0). Busch will be an undervalued A-List option this weekend, and is worth a close look.
9. Matt Kenseth: In 22 starts at the site, Kenseth has one win (2009), three Top Fives and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 17.3. In his last 10 starts at Daytona, he's finished inside the Top 10 six times. In that span he's led in six races. The problem with Kenseth is that he graduated to the A List, going from a big fish in a little pond (the B List), to a small fish in a big pond. Kenseth ranks sixth in DR (91.6) and in ARP (14.5). He also ranks second with 60 Fastest Laps Run.
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: In 22 starts at Daytona, Earnhardt Jr. has two wins (2001, 2004), eight Top Fives and 13 Top 10s. As much as it pains my soul to rank Junior this high, he deserves it. He cashed in second and fourth-place finishes last season at the site. In fact, the July 2010 event at Daytona was the last time Dale Jr. was seen alive by Fantasy owners. He ranks ninth in DR (86.7) and eighth in ARP (15.6). Junior should be in all provisional lineups, as he has history on his side.
11. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has led at least one lap in six of his last seven Daytona starts. 80.3 DR.
12. Jeff Burton: One win (2000), seven Top Fives, nine Top 10s and one pole in 34 starts at Daytona. 84.9 DR.
13. Carl Edwards: Three Top Fives and five Top 10s in 12 starts at the site. 85.2 DR.
14. Greg Biffle: One win (2003), two Top Fives, four Top 10s and one pole in 16 starts at the site. 73.9 DR.
15. Kasey Kahne: One Top Five and five Top 10s in 14 starts at the site. 81.4 DR.
16. David Reutimann: 63.4 DR.
17. Juan Pablo Montoya: 68.1.
18. Ryan Newman: 81.4.
19. Mark Martin: 78.0.
20. Brian Vickers: 80.3.
21. Joey Logano
22. Martin Truex Jr.
23. Brad Keselowski
24. David Ragan
25. A.J. Allmendinger
Adam was a 2010 Fantasy Sports Writers Awards Association nominee for Racing Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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