Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2024 Daytona 500

We are so back.

Sunday (Feb. 18) marks the running of the 66th Daytona 500 from the famed Daytona International Speedway. Judging by the action we saw in the Bluegreen Vacation Duels on Thursday, your fantasy lineups and betting slips are going to be very difficult to prepare. This race also has a tendency to favor the underdogs, which means you could find the winner in the lower salary tiers and win big on prop bets.

Luckily, you have me to try and lend a helping hand.

See also
NASCAR 101: What's So Great About the Great American Race

The NASCAR Cup Series’ best will take to the high banks for 200 laps, accounting for 500 miles of full-throttle pack racing. Last season, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought home the biggest win of his career to date by outlasting Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson in overtime and being ahead of Joey Logano when the final caution flag flew.

The qualifying format for this race is different from all the rest. On Wednesday, Logano put himself on the pole for the event, and 2021 winner Michael McDowell will line up alongside. The rest of the field was set by Thursday’s Duels, won by Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell, respectively. They will line up third and fourth. The finishing order of Duel 1 will line up in the inside positions and the order of Duel 2 will line up in the outside positions.

There is rain in the forecast for Sunday though with Florida’s notoriously hard-to-predict weather systems, no one knows for sure if it’ll play a factor or not.

Fantasy Forecast

The format remains the same from last season for DraftKings Fantasy Racing. Points will be awarded on DraftKings for finishing position, position differential, fastest laps and laps led. The driver who wins the race scores 45 fantasy points, while second gets 42 points, third gets 41 points and so on, at least through the top 10. The 11th-place finisher scores 32 points, 21st gets 21 points and 31st gets 10 points.

However many spots they lose or gain on the track is added to or subtracted from the score. Then, if the driver leads a lap, they will earn 0.25 points for each lap led, as well as 0.45 points for each fastest lap.

DraftKings NASCAR Scoring Rules

Here’s how I’m setting my lineup this week:

Denny Hamlin ($10,000)

Stats that matter: 3 Daytona 500 wins (2016, 2019, 2020), 5 career wins on superspeedways, average finish of 17.0 at Daytona

How could you not buy into Denny Hamlin at Daytona? He has the most Daytona 500 wins among active drivers and dominated the event in the latter part of this past decade. Though Hamlin is coming off back-to-back finishes outside the top 15 in this race, and didn’t show much speed in qualifying, he shined in his Duel race, finishing third. Now armed with track position, he’s sure to be a threat, even if he decides to play his classic strategy of lying in wait at the back of the pack until the moment is right. He’s a must-have despite his pricey salary because he will likely finish extremely well.

The veteran driver also comes to Daytona armed with momentum after winning the Busch Light Clash at the LA Coliseum two weeks ago.

Chase Elliott ($9,400)

Stats that matter: 1 top five, 2 top tens in 5 starts at drafting tracks in 2023, finished runner-up in Duel 1, career average finish of 10.7 at Daytona

So, the Daytona 500 has been a bit of a feast or famine tale for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver over the years. In 2021, he finished runner up to McDowell, and 10th the following year despite being involved in a crash. Before that, he won the pole three times but never finished better than 14th in any of those attempts. Last season, he crashed and finished 38th in the 500.

Despite all this, I think Chase Elliott is a lock to get you valuable points. Why, you ask? Because he has proven himself to be especially adept at superspeedway racing over the last few years. He’s won twice at Talladega Superspeedway since 2019 and once at Atlanta Motorspeedway on its new configuration. He finished fourth at the most recent points-paying race at Daytona and was runner up in his Duel race. His average finish of 10.7 means that he won’t cost you many points due to position differential, should he make it to the checkered flag a few spots down from where he started.

Joey Logano: ($9,200)

Stats that matter: 2015 Daytona 500 winner, 5 career superspeedway wins, 2024 Daytona 500 pole-sitter, career average finish at Daytona of 17.0

The two-time Cup champion torched the field on Wednesday in qualifying to give Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 pole. Logano also showed plenty of speed in his Duel race before dropping back to protect his equipment for the big show. No doubt about it, the driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang will be a contender on Sunday. There is a very good chance he will score you a ton of points for fast laps.

His success hinges on how aggressive he chooses to be and at what point he makes his move. Logano has shown a tendency over the years to be too aggressive early on, though his track position at the start will give him a good shot at picking up valuable laps led that could put your team over the edge in close battle with the rest of your group.

See also
Joey Logano, Michael McDowell Pace Daytona 500 Starting Lineup

Tyler Reddick: ($7,800)

Stats that matter: Duel Race 1 Winner, best career Daytona 500 finish: 25th

So, why in the world would I recommend Reddick for anybody’s lineup with his abysmal record in the Daytona 500? I don’t have much of an analysis here, but as most people racing is more than statistics and analytics.

What I saw on Thursday night was the driver of the No. 45 Toyota Camry make a daring last-lap move around Larson to win it. Something has to be said for a car at Daytona that can move like that in traffic late in a run. The price is worth the buy because Reddick could easily steal a win on the last lap or in overtime much like Stenhouse did last season.

Michael McDowell ($7,200)

Stats that matter: 2021 Daytona 500 winner, qualified 2nd for 2024 Daytona 500, career average finish at Daytona: 20.3

Front Row Motorsports looks to be surging among the Ford teams during this Speedweek. Todd Gilliland looked strong in his qualifying and duel effort as did Kaz Grala, who had to race his way in. But success on this race team lives and dies with McDowell on Sunday.

Of course, McDowell won the 2021 Daytona 500, which adds to his value. It is his front row start however that he can contribute most. He has a high potential for laps led but the low upside for finish differential.

Corey LaJoie ($6,000): Stats that matter: 8 career top 10s at superspeedways, Finished 10th in 2023 Coke Zero Sugar 400 after starting 37th. Career average finish of 18.1 at Daytona despite career average start of 29.5

Corey LaJoie might just be the steal of the century sitting at a $6,000 salary. The man best known for ‘stacking pennies’ sure has stacked a lot of them at the legendary South Florida track.

He always seems to be around at the end, and that’s where his value lies. He starts 29th on Sunday, which gives him a large amount of points to be gained if he can move forward from there and finish up front. This lineup may be a bit top heavy with Hamlin, Elliott and Logano, but Lajoie could be the lynchpin to a successful fantasy weekend.

See also
Stat Sheet: Lackluster Showing in Speedweeks? There's No Need to Panic

Best Props and Locks

Here are some prop bets and locks you should be paying attention to this weekend if you’re looking for some quick cash this weekend.

  1. Busch +1200 to win the Daytona 500: Rowdy is in his 20th year of trying, his 20th year of frustration trying to win The Great American Race. While he was involved in a crash in Thursday’s Duel, his car wasn’t damaged badly enough to warrant a backup car. He had plenty of speed in qualifying before that. Also, don’t forget, he was leading on the 500th mile last season, before overtime took his chance. If Busch can do that again, he might be able to get a whole lot of people paid at +1200.
  2. McDowell +100 over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -130: Despite his win last year, the chances Stenhouse repeats are slim, as only four drivers in the history of the sport. McDowell has also been more consistently running at the finish in recent years. McDowell also starts the race with far better track position than last year’s winner.
  3. Toyota Winning at +240: Toyota being the underdogs for this race is a bettor’s dream. Though they didn’t qualify well on Wednesday, Toyota drivers swept the Duel races with the aforementioned Reddick and Bell. Toyota hasn’t won a Daytona 500 since 2020, but the race speed they’ve shown this week certainly makes them seem less like underdogs and more like favorites.

The Daytona 500 is my favorite race weekend to play fantasy racing and place bets on the whole calendar. No one truly knows who’s going to contend, who’s going to crash, or who’s going to victory lane. I’ll be back next week to talk about Atlanta. Good luck this weekend and happy betting!

About the author

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.

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Echo

Betting Daytona for real ! Ridiculous to even think about it.

DoninAjax

If it is on TV the bookies want people to bet on anything that will make them money from the suckers who believe they can win. Nobody will guarantee a winning bet!

DoninAjax

What are the odds of two events on Monday? Or one on Tuesday?

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