Making strong Fantasy NASCAR picks has been a bit easier this year than in past seasons simply because a small handful of cars are dominating.
Thereâ€™s less parity than usual with six winners through 17 races this season. So picking at least Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., weekly, is a no-brainer, regardless of where theyâ€™re racing.
But this week is a little different. NASCAR is at Daytona International Speedway â€” one of two tracks where cars are required to race with restrictor plates. Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway are NASCARâ€™s longest tracks, and the plates limit the speed of cars in the name of safety. But they also make the races beyond unpredictable.
The only sure thing is there will be â€śthe big oneâ€ť â€” the gigantic wreck that takes out a huge chunk of the field â€” so how do you make fantasy NASCAR picks for races at Daytona and Talladega where truly anyone can win?
For The Win spoke with Pearce Dietrich â€” a NASCAR fantasy expert for DraftKings â€” about how to strategize at these crazy and unpredictable race tracks.
â€śEveryoneâ€™s got a chance,â€ť Dietrich said, unlike typical tracks where fans can narrow the field down to about 15 contending drivers. â€śAnyone can avoid a wreck and thereâ€™s really a couple philosophies in approaching (the superspeedways).â€ť
Letâ€™s break them down.
One of the two strategies Dietrich described is to approach Daytona and Talladega races from a scoring perspective.
â€śDrivers that stand to score the most points are the drivers that start in the back and donâ€™t wreck,â€ť he said. â€śThe one theory is maybe I just take drivers that are starting in the back and hope they miss the wreck.â€ť
Thereâ€™s still a lot of chance involved because there could still be a wreck in the second half of the field, allowing the leaders to escape unscathed.
As drivers have pointed out in the past, many of them try to stay in the front, hoping â€śthe big oneâ€ť unfolds behind them. They also, of course, are trying to have the lead so itâ€™s not surprising thatâ€™s how they approach these events.
The other strategy Dietrich suggested for the restrictor plate races is to use numbers to determine who to pick. Itâ€™s similar to what he normally recommends â€” which is examining how the best drivers perform at each track from week to week â€” but fans have to take a broader approach because itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s race.
â€śLook at driversâ€™ lead-lap finish percentage and see how often do they finish on the lead lap at the plate tracks,â€ť Dietrich said.
â€śOr look at how often they finish in the top 20 or top 10 to give you an idea of the drivers that typically tend to do better. No oneâ€™s perfect at these tracks. Youâ€™re not going to see anyone with really better than a 15 percent top-10 rate and a lead-lap finish rate maybe pushing 70 percent, which is crazy compared to other tracks.â€ť
At Daytona, Kurt Busch has the most top-10 finishes among active drivers with 17. Jimmie Johnson, Harvick and Matt Kenseth each have 14, while Clint Bowyer has 12.
Going into Saturdayâ€™s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, Dietrich shared his rankings for the top 20 contenders. Joey Logano â€” who won the most recent restrictor plate race at Talladega â€” leads the way, followed by Harvick, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Bowyer in the top five.