Fantasy NASCAR rankings: Daytona 500

by Brian Polking on February 24, 2012 @ 14:28:29 PDT

 


Kevin Harvick

With the Gatorade Duel 150s in the books, the starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500 is now set. Former winners Michael Waltrip and Bill Elliott were among the big names to miss the field, while Michael McDowell and Dave Blaney played the role of underdog and raced their way in. After rookie Trevor Bayne's victory in the Great American Race last season, it's tough to rule out any of the 43 drivers that will take the green flag. That being said, certain drivers did set themselves apart during Thursday's qualifying races.

Roush Fenway Racing was the big winner. Matt Kenseth won the second Gatorade Duel, giving Jack Roush his first-ever win in a qualifying race. Kenseth's victory also put all three RFR cars in the top four starting spots, after Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle swept the front row in qualifying last Sunday. Edwards and Biffle looked strong Thursday, as well, and both drivers finished in the top five in their qualifying race. Biffle also led the most laps in his Gatorade Duel, and most importantly, neither driver damaged their cars.

While Roush Fenway Racing emerged as the team to beat, Tony Stewart looks like the driver to beat after winning the first Gatorade Duel. The defending champ has become this generation's Dale Earnhardt, winning anything and everything except the Daytona 500. He has led the most laps in the race, led on the final lap and his 17 total victories at the track are the second all-time to the "Intimidator." Still, the Harley J. Earl Trophy has somehow eluded him. "Smoke" looks like a contender once again, and he will try to get the monkey off his back Sunday.

Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper pick should consider Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler. Smith finished second in his qualifying race Thursday, and he actually posted the best driver rating in last year's Daytona 500. He actually wrecked in the closing laps of the 2011 event, but he still managed to recover and finish in the top 10. Smith appears to have a car capable of doing the same this weekend. Meanwhile, Sadler grabbed a fourth-place finish in his Gatorade Duel, and his one-race stint with Richard Childress Racing could be a beneficial one for owners. Sadler actually has the sixth-best average finish at Daytona since the start of the 2002 season, and RCR has won four of the last eight restrictor-plate races.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Sponsor Team
Starting Pos.
1
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Fastenal Roush Fenway Racing
1
2
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing
3
3
Matt Kenseth
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
4
4
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
13
5
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports
5
6
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
14
7
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
16
8
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
2
9
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Target Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
35
10
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
20
11
Kurt Busch
51
Chevrolet Hendrickcars.com Phoenix Racing
28
12
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
37
13
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
30
14
A.J. Allmendinger
22
Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
15
15
Elliott Sadler
33
Chevrolet Kroger/General Mills Richard Childress Racing
10
16
Regan Smith
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
6
17
Trevor Bayne
21
Ford Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing
40
18
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
8
19
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
19
20
Brad Keselowski
2
Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
23
21
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
7
22
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
9
23
Joey Logano
20
Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing
12
24
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing
18
25
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
31
26
David Gilliland
38
Ford MHP Front Row Motorsports
33
27
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
26
28
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes Richard Petty Motorsports
27
29
David Ragan
34
Ford Scorpion Truck Bed Liners Front Row Motorsports
25
30
Mark Martin
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
22
31
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
6
Ford Ford Ecoboost Roush Fenway Racing
21
32
Landon Cassill
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
39
33
David Reutimann
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
38
34
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kroger JTG Daugherty Racing
32
35
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet GoDaddy.com Tommy Baldwin Racing
29
36
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
36
37
Dave Blaney
36
Chevrolet Ollie's Bargain Outler Tommy Baldwin Racing
24
38
Tony Raines
26
Ford Front Row Motorsports Front Row Motorsports
41
39
Robby Gordon
7
Dodge SPEED Energy Robby Gordon Motorsports
17
40
Terry Labonte
32
Ford C & J Energy Services FAS Lane Racing
43
41
Michael McDowell
40
Ford K-Love/Curb Records Phil Parsons Racing
11
42
David Stremme
30
Toyota Inception Motorsports Inception Motorsports
42
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota AM-FM Energy NEMCO Motorsports
34
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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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