Fantasy NASCAR: Polking's Picks for Daytona

by Brian Polking on July 3, 2014 @ 06:48:20 PDT

 

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It's only fitting that last weekend's trip to the bumpy Kentucky Speedway resulted in uneven results for my fantasy teams. On the plus side, I had a strong showing in the FOX game, placing all five drivers in the top 15, including four in the top 10. However, I had a mediocre showing in NASCAR.com Fantasy Live after Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick both had issues late in the race and saw top-five finishes turn into top-10s. Meanwhile, my night was ruined in the Yahoo! game after Kyle Larson cut a tire and slammed into the wall, finishing 40th.

While I would have preferred a better overall showing at Kentucky, I would take a repeat of those results in a heartbeat this weekend at Daytona. I'll be honest. I dread the restrictor plate races from a fantasy standpoint. All the preparation and planning that goes into assembling a lineup can be ruined in an instant, and all you can really do is watch and wait for the big wrecks to unfold and cross your fingers that some of your picks survive the carnage and pick up solid finishes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR
All smiles en route to win?

Given the unpredictable nature of races at Daytona, I prefer a conservative approach, especially in the Yahoo! and FOX games that cap the number of times each driver can be used. In these formats, I will be staying away from the big names and opting instead for some sleeper options. After all, I know going into Saturday night's race that there is the potential for a disaster, and the last thing I want to do is compound a bad night by wasting starts from the top fantasy options.

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (A): There is no such thing as a safe pick this weekend, but Junior has been the most reliable driver at Daytona for a while now. His 5.6 average finish in the last five races at Daytona is by far the best in the series, and his 10.2 average finish at plate tracks since 2012 is also tops among drivers. This scoring system is all about final results, and Junior has been the safest bet to end up near the front at Daytona.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (B): He has quietly been one of the most consistent performers at plate tracks since joining the Cup Series. In seven starts, Stenhouse has yet to finish outside the top 20, and he has finished inside the top 12 in his last three starts at Daytona. In a format that rewards final results above all else, Stenhouse is an easy choice.

Jamie McMurray (B): McMurray has finished in the top 15 in three of his last four starts at Daytona, but it is his upside that I like the most. He is a two-time winner at Daytona in his career, and he has three plate track wins overall. No driver is a safe bet at Daytona, so I'll take my chances with a proven winner.

Bobby Labonte (C): Labonte's preferred strategy at plate tracks is to sit back and wait for the wrecks to happen ahead of him, and while his conservative approach hurts his upside, it has also allowed him to be a surprisingly reliable option at Daytona. He has finished 16th or better in six of his last eight starts at the track, including a 15th-place run in the Daytona 500 earlier this year. The fact that I can have a shot at a top-15 while saving a start from one of the top C-List regulars is just icing on the cake.

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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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