Welcome to my NASCAR DFS Breakdown for the Daytona 500! In this article, I will preview the race, lineup construction, and offer some of my favorite drivers to target for Sunday’s race! You can find all of our Core Plays throughout the NASCAR Premium Package, or you can click here to join our free Discord! By signing up, you’ll get access to our Final Thoughts, all our Core Plays for DraftKings, FanDuel, and SuperDraft, as well as our Prop Plays for MonkeyKnifeFight and PrizePicks! Remember, our NASCAR Premium content extends to ALL series (Trucks, Xfinity, Cup).
Race Preview/Lineup Construction
The 2022 NASCAR season is officially here, and there’s no better way to start than with the Daytona 500! The Great American Race is known as the Super Bowl of NASCAR so expect some aggressive and exciting racing on Sunday. I know most of you are here for DFS purposes, so I won’t waste too much of your time with preview information. The important things to note are that this event is 200 laps and anyone can win because of the draft and restricted speeds. In terms of lineup construction, it’s very unique at a track like Daytona. We want to roster mostly drivers starting near the back because of a thing called place differential. If a driver starts 30th and finishes 10th, they would get 20 place differential points. However, if it was the other way around, that driver would lose 20 points resulting in a bad DFS performance. We often see multiple big wrecks here because the cars are inches apart from each other for most of the race. The drivers in the back are safer and offer a higher ceiling with the place differential bonus they’ll receive. That doesn’t mean you should only play guys starting in the back though. In GPPs, we need to take some chances on drivers starting closer to the front. Usually, I follow my rule of playing 0-1 drivers inside the top 10, 1-2 starting 11th-20th, 2-3 through 21st-30th, and 2-4 starting 31st-40th. I’ve gathered up all the optimal superspeedway lineups from the last four seasons, so you guys can see the common trends with what the winning lineups look like. With all of that out of the way, here are some of the drivers I’ll be targeting on DraftKings and FanDuel this weekend.
Denny Hamlin (DK $10,500 FD $14,000)
Hamlin will be the most popular driver on DraftKings and FanDuel for good reason. He has won three of the last six Daytona 500’s and is starting all the way back in 30th place. Like I said in the preview, place differential is king at the superspeedways, and he offers a ton of it from where he’s starting on Sunday. I don’t play cash games personally but if you do, Hamlin should be the first driver to lock into those contests because he has the highest ceiling of all the drivers in this race. In GPPs however, it gets very interesting because we all know a driver can get taken out at any point even when it’s not their fault. He’s a great play in single entry and 3 entry max contests but if you’re playing large field GPPs like the millionaire maker, it does make sense to be underweight on him because of the chaos that could take place in a race like this.
William Byron (DK $9,400 FD $11,500)
I don’t need to tell you that Joey Logano is a good play this weekend, so why not go with Byron who might be lower owned than he should on Sunday. Looking at his data over the last ten superspeedway races, he’s a boom or bust play with four finishes of 4th or better and five finishes of 25th or worse. He did win the summer race here in 2020, so that’s definitely something to note when making DFS lineups. He offers plenty of place differential starting 23rd but won’t be as popular as guys like Hamlin, Almirola, and Austin Dillon because they’re all starting further back than him. I wouldn’t play him in cash games, but Byron makes for a great tournament play for the upside he has here.
Bubba Wallace (DK $8,300 FD $9,700)
Wallace always puts himself in a position to win at the superspeedways, and that finally paid off last fall at Talladega where he won his first ever Cup Series race. Most casual DFS players will hear about the stack the back strategy and only play drivers starting 20th or worse. This is a common mistake that’s made because we’ll usually see at least 1-2 guys inside the top 20 in the winning lineup. They are riskier plays for sure but in GPPs, we have to take some chances on low owned plays that could pay off for us in a big way. Bubba still offers a lot of upside starting 16th because he has place differential and can finish top 5 here. This is a GPP play only, but he’s someone I’ll more than likely be overweight on.
Aric Almirola (DK $8,000 FD $8,500)
Almirola will probably be the next highest owned driver behind Hamlin on DraftKings and FanDuel this weekend. I know his recent finishes at the superspeedways aren’t great, but he does have a win at Daytona and Talladega over his Cup Series career. He also had a strectch of eight straight top 10’s at Talladega which is crazy considering how easy it is to be involved in a wreck in these races. Almirola is a great play on Sunday because he offers a ton of place differential upside starting 38th. Just like Hamlin, Almirola is another driver I would lock into cash games but makes for an interesting fade in tournaments. When I say that, it doesn’t mean have 0% exposure to him unless you can predict the future. It just means that I’ll have less exposure to him than the field does. Just like in any sport of DFS, you can’t play all of the chalk.
Noah Gragson (DK $5,300 FD $3,500)
Gragson is one of my favorite drivers in the Xfinity Series and now, he gets to make his first ever Cup Series start in the Great American Race. He’s had plenty of success at the superspeedways in Xfinity with multiple top 5 finishes including a win at Daytona back in 2020. Gragson will be driving the #62 car for Beard Motorsports which we’ve seen Brendan Gaughan have some good finishes in the past. He’s starting back in 39th which means he’s another driver that offers a lot of place differential and increases his overall ceiling. He’ll definitely be a popular option, but there’s a reason why a lot of people like him here this weekend.
Ty Dillon (DK $5,200 FD $4,000)
Dillon is a driver I love as a direct pivot off of the Gragson chalk. Over his last six starts at superspeedways in the Cup Series, Ty has two top 5’s, three top 10’s, and an average finish of 13.5. He’s an aggressive driver that’s willing to put himself in a position to be there at the end, which is exactly what we want from our drivers in DFS. He still offers a lot of place differential starting 26th but won’t be as owned because of the other drivers starting further back. Like most guys in these races, I would view as Ty as a boom or bust play for GPPs.
NASCAR Daytona 500 Picks:
Winner: Chase Elliott
Favorite Play: Denny Hamlin
Favorite Low Owned Play: Bubba Wallace
Fade: Kyle Larson
Guy I’m playing you shouldn’t: Kurt Busch
I hope you guys enjoyed reading my free article for the Daytona 500, and I wish you the best of luck in your DFS contests! Make sure to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already @DFS_NASCAR_Zone, so you can see when I post NASCAR DFS content or ask any questions! I’ll be live streaming on the DFS Karma YouTube channel, so make sure to come in there and ask your questions as well! If you want access to our final thoughts, core plays, prop plays, and betting card, make sure to sign up for the NASCAR Core Plays Package! You can click here to join our free Discord! Good luck and I hope to see one of you take down the millionaire maker on DraftKings!