Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2023 Coke Zero Sugar 400

There’s one race left before the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and it’s a doozy.

Drivers are set to take on Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, airing Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.

The last time Cup was at The World Center of Racing, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. broke through for his first Daytona 500 victory. Before that, in last summer’s race, Austin Dillon snuck through a huge crash and eventually took the win after a lengthy rain delay.

You really don’t know what’s going to happen at this 2.5-mile superspeedway. I mean, this track’s racing action is so volatile that a crash can happen at any time. Then again, there was a long green-flag run in between stages one and two last year. And Talladega Superspeedway’s fall event saw two 56-lap runs under green, so it’s not impossible to have a long stretch to the finish.

When you go to prepare your DraftKings rosters for this weekend’s race, study not only Daytona but also Talladega as well to see who tends to finish up front. You can also check out the last four races at Atlanta Motor Speedway; it’s a smaller track but its racing is similar to Daytona.

See also
Through the Gears: Daytona Betting Preview

Also check the qualifying results from Friday, which you can find here.

Before I move on to this week’s picks, take a look at the results from Watkins Glen International.

DraftKings SalaryDriverDraftKings Score
$11,000Chase Elliott-6.65
$10,000Christopher Bell47.25
$8,800William Byron72.4
$8,600Ty Gibbs39.35
$6,500Erik Jones15
$6,100Justin Haley14

Half of these drivers did well, with William Byron running away with the win and producing a high score on DraftKings. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, didn’t fare very well, as he ran out of gas during the race.

The top score in the $5,000 Quarter Jukebox was 304.2 and had Martin Truex Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Byron, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Todd Gilliland.

Here’s a quick look at the rules for DraftKings:

The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and it decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats from 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.

Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they started the race. For example, if Kyle Larson started seventh and won, he would gain six points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 51 fantasy points.

Drivers also can earn 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap they lead.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring Breakdown

Here are the drivers you should consider for Daytona:

DraftKings Picks: Top Tier

Ryan Blaney ($9,900)
Career at Daytona: 16 starts, 1 win, 4 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 17.5

Blaney is likely going to be a popular pick on DraftKings, as his stats are very good at Daytona and Talladega, especially recently. He’s a former winner of this race, taking home the checkered flag in 2021. Additionally, he finished eighth in this year’s Daytona 500 and fourth in the 2022 season opener.

At ‘Dega, the No. 12 Team Penske pilot was runner-up in the last two races, leading 47 laps in the spring race and 31 laps last fall.

Blaney’s also had some good results at Atlanta, earning top 10s in each of the last three races there. Look for him to find his way to the front by the end of the race this weekend at Daytona.

Chris Buescher ($9,000)
Career at Daytona: 15 starts, 0 wins, 4 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 21.2

Chris Buescher‘s finished strong in both superspeedway events this season, earning a fourth at Daytona and third at Talladega. He has one other top 10 in the last 10 events at these tracks: a sixth in the rain-shortened fall 2021 Talladega race. He would’ve had another top five at Daytona that summer but was disqualified after the race.

At Atlanta, the No. 17 RFK Racing driver appears to be boom or bust. He got up front in the July Atlanta race, leading 39 laps before ultimately finishing where he started in 15th. Buescher also finished seventh in the spring 2022 event. However, he crashed out of the two races in between.

If he can avoid the mayhem on the track, Buescher should have a good result at Daytona. Keep in mind that Buescher qualified 11th, which is a little bit further back than I’d like him to be. He should be able to still get a good finish.

(I also like Keselowski, Bubba Wallace.)

Middle Tier

Daniel Suarez ($8,400)
Career at Daytona: 12 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Daytona: 26.8

Daniel Suarez may not be the first one you think of when it comes to superspeedways, but he definitely should be on your initial list. In the last three such events at Daytona and Talladega, he’s earned top-10 finishes. That’s good in and of itself, but consider the fact that he started all three races outside the top 10. In fact, this year, he started in the 20s; that’s a lot of position differential points that boosted his DraftKings score.

It seems like the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing driver has figured out how to finish well at these pack racing tracks, as his results at Atlanta are good, too. Suarez has finished sixth or better in three of the last four events there, including a second place in July.

I’m for sure rostering Suarez on DraftKings, as he qualified 22nd and would earn quite a bit of fantasy points if he earns a top 10.

Michael McDowell ($7,800)
Career at Daytona: 24 starts, 1 win, 3 top fives, 8 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 20.6

Michael McDowell‘s had some success at Daytona and Talladega the last few years, winning his first Cup race in the 2021 Daytona 500. Since then, he’s finished third twice at Talladega (spring 2021 and fall 2022) and earned two more top 10s in 2022.

At the mini superspeedway in Atlanta, the Front Row Motorsports driver came home 15th last summer. Then in July, McDowell was fourth after starting 20th, scoring about 57.4 DraftKings points as a result.

McDowell will also likely be on many users’ rosters, as he’s starting in the back after having an issue in qualifying.

See also
NASCAR 101: A Guide Around NASCAR Classics

Low Tier

Erik Jones ($6,700)
Career at Daytona: 13 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 22.8

Erik Jones won at Daytona in the summer 2018 race; he also finished ninth in 2017 and third in the 2019 Daytona 500. Unfortunately, luck hasn’t been on his side there the last several races, except for the summer 2021 race when he came home 11th. He crashed out in five of the last six events.

So why am I considering him on DraftKings? Though he hasn’t done as well at Daytona, he’s had the opposite results at Talladega recently. Jones gained 17 positions in the fall 2021 race en route to ninth. He also earned a sixth in each of the last three events there.

And at Atlanta, Jones has finished 14th or better in the past four races, earning a fourth in July 2022 and an eighth this spring. Hopefully he’ll break through for a good finish at Daytona.

Corey LaJoie ($6,200)
Career at Daytona: 13 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Daytona: 18.8

Corey LaJoie last top 10 at a larger superspeedway came in the 2021 Daytona season opener where he finished ninth. Though he hasn’t had a top 10 at Daytona or Talladega since, he still has had a few results in the teens. He was 16th in this year’s Daytona 500 and 14th at both Daytona and Talladega last winter/spring.

Earlier this spring, the No. 7 Spire Motorsports pilot drove from 31st to fourth at Atlanta. LaJoie had a similar performance in the spring 2022 race, finishing fifth after starting 33rd. Then last summer, he nearly won; he tried to get around Elliott but ended up crashing on the last lap.

If LaJoie can stay patient and not be too aggressive in his quest for the lead, he should score well on DraftKings.

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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