Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2021 Busch Clash

It’s finally here! NASCAR is back and the 2021 Cup Series season is upon us. Before teams get set for the Daytona 500, 21 drivers will compete in the Busch Clash, with a new twist for this year. The exhibition will take place not on the 2.5-mile superspeedway but on the Daytona International Speedway road course. Coverage is set to kick off on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Though Tuesday marks the first time the Clash will run on the 3.61-mile venue, it’s not the first go-round for most of the entrants. They competed on this layout last August because of COVID-19 restrictions near Watkins Glen International which forced that Cup race’s cancellation.

COVID-19 has affected this season, too, as NASCAR has already moved an event from Auto Club Speedway to the Daytona road course for next weekend. As a result, drivers might use this exhibition race as a practice run for the points race held at this venue in two weeks. With just one race here under their belts, drivers could use the additional track time while increasing their road course experience for a schedule filled with them in 2021.

This preview will also allow you to prepare for that race, as DraftKings adjusted its scoring rules for the 2021 season. The site lowered the points for each fastest lap to 0.45, as well as the points awarded for first place to 45. Additionally, the gap between 10th and 11th place is two points instead of one: 10th gets 34 points, while 11th gets 32. In other words, DraftKings has put more emphasis on drivers who finish in the top 10 and top 20. You can view the full DraftKings rules below.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring Rules

Before I move on to my DraftKings picks, make sure you take a look at the lineup with Ryan Blaney drawing the pole position. Pay attention to where each driver starts, as you may wish to adjust your DraftKings roster accordingly. If a good road course racer or well-funded team starts last, you’ll definitely want their bonus points in this 35-lap sprint race.

Now, on to my picks!

Note: The following is a sample lineup; you can use the information to make your own.

DraftKings Picks

Chase Elliott ($10,500)
Career at Daytona road course: 1 start, 1 win, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Daytona road course: 1.0

Elliott should be the number one guy on your list as the Dawsonville, Ga. native has won the past four Cup Series road course events. Last August, Elliott led 34 laps en route to victory here, holding off Denny Hamlin by about two-tenths of a second. Starting seventh, he may not earn as many DraftKings points from laps led, but a win would more than make up for that deficit in your lineup.

Elliott gained more experience on this layout when he competed in the Rolex 24 in January. Although sports cars drive much differently than stock cars (and have headlights) Elliott’s nighttime excursion could prove beneficial for the Clash.

The road course ace has also won the past two events each at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and at Watkins Glen International, respectively, leading several laps in each event. It’s truly no wonder why Elliott’s DraftKings salary tops all other drivers. Make no question about it — lock him in your lineup.

Denny Hamlin ($9,600)
Career at Daytona road course: 1 start, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Daytona road course: 2.0

As mentioned previously, Hamlin ended as runner-up to Elliott in the Cup Series’ inaugural race on the Daytona road course. However, he was in the mix for the lead during much of the first two stages and led 16 laps during the event. That strong run helped to boost his final DraftKings score to 48.3 points.

While he isn’t as well-versed on road courses, Hamlin seems to have found his footing in recent years. Though he has yet to earn a top-10 finish at the Charlotte ROVAL, he has three top 10s in the past four Watkins Glen events, including one win in 2016. Additionally, he’s earned three top fives and four top 10s in the last four races at Sonoma Raceway.

Hamlin’s certainly likely to end Tuesday’s race inside the top 10, which is exactly what you need for your DraftKings roster.

Alex Bowman ($7,900)
Career at Daytona road course: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona road course: 12.0

Bowman will pilot the iconic No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports after Jimmie Johnson retired from NASCAR competition at the end of last season. Though Bowman just missed out on earning a top 10 at this venue last year, he did gain 15 positions on the racetrack.

Additionally, Bowman has two top fives and three top 10s at the Charlotte ROVAL; his highest finish was second in 2019. He also has a ninth-place finish at Sonoma in 2018, increasing the likelihood of a good result here. Though Johnson’s replacement isn’t as flashy as his Hendrick teammates, Bowman’s in position to succeed Tuesday night if he stays out of trouble.

William Byron ($7,700)
Career at Daytona road course: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Daytona road course: 8.0

Notice a pattern here? Yep, another Hendrick competitor. Byron had a strong run last year at Daytona, finishing eighth after beginning the race 13th. He also has two sixth-place results in the past two Charlotte ROVAL events, as well as an eighth at Watkins Glen in 2018. Byron led 50 total laps at the Charlotte ROVAL, so he knows how to get in front. Though he doesn’t stay out there (thanks to his Hendrick cohort), the young driver’s still a sure bet to earn another top 10 on Tuesday night.

Honorable Mention

Kurt Busch ($7,400)
Career at Daytona road course: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona road course: 14.0

Busch is a well-versed road course racer, earning top 10s in the majority of these events. He has two top fives at the Charlotte ROVAL, three top fives and 10 top 10s at WGI, plus seven top fives and 10 top 10s at Sonoma, including a 2011 victory running for Team Penske. His No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet should have a great result in this exhibition race.

Dark Horse Performer

Matt DiBenedetto ($6,900)
Career at Daytona road course: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona road course: 15.0

Though DiBenedetto ended further from where he began last August, he still nabbed a top-15 result. Matty D wasn’t able to earn a top 10 at the Charlotte ROVAL yet, but he did end up fourth at Sonoma and sixth at Watkins Glen in 2019. His skill set tends to fit road courses very well, plus his Wood Brothers equipment is very capable of earning a top 10 Tuesday. He’s certainly a good option to fill out your lineup.

Not convinced? Chris Buescher is also a nice dark horse pick, as he finished fifth at this Daytona venue last year.

About the author

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

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