The Setup – Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona
By Tyler Miller

The NASCAR Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona consist of two 60 lap qualifying races that will set the field for the Daytona 500. Duel 1 will set the inside row and Duel 2 will set the outside row for Sunday. Since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the pole and Alex Bowman qualified 2nd on Sunday they will each lead the field to green on Thursday night. Stenhouse and Bowman will start on the front row in the Daytona 500 as long as they do not crash their car and have to go to a backup car, so there is no incentive for them to win the duel races. Reed Sorenson, Timmy Hill, Daniel Suarez, JJ Yeley, and Chad Finchum did not qualify for the Daytona 500 on time last Sunday and will have to race their way into the 500 Thursday night. Two of those five drivers will make the race, three will not race on Sunday. Those five drivers (Sorenson, Hill, Suarez, Yeley, and Finchum) are the most motivated drivers on Thursday night, however, Daniel Suarez is the only driver with what I would consider a decent car capable of running towards the front of the field.

Fan Duel and Draft Kings are approaching these races completely differently. Fan Duel has a combined slate with all the drivers available in single contests. Draft Kings has two separate slates with the drivers divided between Duel 1 and Duel 2. I am going to focus on Fan Duel contests for Thursday night in an effort to find the best plays overall which will translate to either site.
Let’s get started.

Race Distance: 2 races: 60 laps (150 miles)
Lineup Lock 7:00 pm eastern Thursday
2019 winner Duel 1: Kevin Harvick (started 8th)
2019 winner Duel 2: Joey Logano (started 3rd)
Past Winners: (starting position)
2018 1: Ryan Blaney (8th)
2018 2: Chase Elliott (5th)
2017 1: Chase Elliott (1st)
2017 2: Denny Hamlin (3rd)
2016 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2nd)
2016 2: Kyle Busch (2nd)
2015 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25th)
2015 2: Jimmie Johnson (1st)

Busch Clash Recap:
What went right?

The Busch Clash was a messy race with multiple wrecks late and a surprise winner in Erik Jones. Victory Lane properly identified 3 of the top 6 and 4 of the top 9 scoring drivers on Fan Duel. Austin Dillon was the best play and scored the second most points on Fan Duel. Dillon led 6 laps and finished 2nd. Denny Hamlin led 12 laps and finished 6th scoring the third most points, and Chase Elliott led 7 laps and finished the race 11th. If Chase Elliott avoids the crash with Kyle Larson we are talking about a much bigger payday than we saw on Sunday. I was worried about fading Keselowski and Kurt Busch. I wrote up Keselowski but noted that it was impossible to play him with Logano and Hamlin because of pricing. While Keselowski led 33 laps, he was one of the first to crash out and finished the race 17th. Kurt Busch was highly owned but crashed out to finish 12th, so that all worked out in the end, though Kurt Busch would have been a better play that Truex in the mid-tier.

Overall my lineup of Logano, Hamlin, Truex, Elliott, and Dillon scored 220.6 and cashed in nearly every contest it was entered in, including double ups, triple ups, the $9 Lucky Dog, and the $5.55 Intimidator tournament.

What went wrong?
I should have put more consideration in Erik Jones at minimum price starting 12th. I was high on his teammates but I completely overlooked him. Playing Truex, who started the race third, was the wrong move. The Busch Clash is unique because of the shortened number of laps and the star studded field, you really needed to focus on the back half of the starting lineup and gain as many differential points as possible. For example, an entry of the last four starting positions (Blaney, Dillon, Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Hamlin) scored 230 points. Something to remember for this race next year.

What to consider for the Duels:

Impounded: There is no further practice or qualifying for the Duels on Thursday night. The cars have been impounded since qualifying on Sunday and crews are permitted minor adjustments to the cars before they start the race.

Will the pole sitters race? Looking through recent history, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have raced up front in the qualifying races after winning the pole position. Notably, Chase Elliot won his duel as the Daytona 500 pole sitter in 2017 and finished 6th in 2016. Jeff Gordon also finished 2nd in his duel as the Daytona 500 pole sitter in 2015. Otherwise, the pole sitters have typically not raced up front. I do not expect Stenhouse to race up front on Thursday night, Bowman has shown us in the past that he is content will running at the back of the pack during the qualifying races when he has a guaranteed spot on the front row.

Leading laps or differential points? Differential points were a premium for the Busch Clash. The same goes for the Duels. Most of our drivers will need to come from starting positions 10-20 to have a successful lineup.
NASCAR does not provide loop data statistics for the qualifying races. The stats below are for Daytona as a whole.

Driver Ratings Daytona:
1. Kyle Busch 91.2
2. Denny Hamlin 87.8
3. Jimmie Johnson 87.2
4. Kurt Busch 87.1
5. Joey Logano 87.0
6. Ryan Blaney 86.7
7. Kevin Harvick 83.2
8. William Byron 83.1
9. Clint Bowyer 78.4
10. Brad Keselowski 78.2
11. Austin Dillon 77.5
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 77.0
13. Martin Truex Jr. 76.8
14. Bubba Wallace 75.7
15. Alex Bowman 75.2

Average Running Position:
1. Ryan Blaney 14.165
2. Kyle Busch 14.204
3. Jimmie Johnson 14.938
4. Denny Hamlin 14.990
5. William Byron 15.826
6. Kurt Busch 16.219
7. Joey Logano 16.351
8. Alex Bowman 17.282
9. Austin Dillon 17.512
10. Martin Truex Jr. 17.636
11. Clint Bowyer 17.735
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17.994
13. Brad Keselowski 18.035
14. Kevin Harvick 18.720
15. Chase Elliott 18.850

Laps Led
1. Denny Hamlin 442 (8.9% of laps run)
2. Kyle Busch 423 (8.2)
3. Kurt Busch 299 (5.8)
4. Jimmie Johnson 272 (5.1)
5. Brad Keselowski 199 (5.3)
6. Kevin Harvick 178 (3.3)
7. Clint Bowyer 162 (3.3)
8. Ryan Blaney 143 (8.7)
9. Joey Logano 114 (2.9)
10. Ryan Newman 102 (1.9)
11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 97 (3.6)
12. Martin Truex Jr. 92 (1.8)
13. Austin Dillon 64 (2.8)
14. Chase Elliott 64 (4.5)
15. William Byron 56 (7.9)

2019 1 Top 10
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
3. Paul Menard
4. Matt DiBenedetto
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Bubba Wallace
7. Chris Buescher
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Ryan Newman
10. Ryan Preece

2019 2 Top 10
1. Joey Logano
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Aric Almirola
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kurt Busch
6. Ryan Blaney
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Chase Elliott
9. Austin Dillon
10. Ty Dillon

2018 1 Top 10
1. Ryan Blaney
2. Joey Logano
3. Bubba Wallace
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
5. Kurt Busch
6. Ryan Newman
7. David Ragan
8. Daniel Suarez
9. Jamie McMurray
10. Chris Buescher

2018 2 Top 10
1. Chase Elliott
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Erik Jones
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kyle Busch
6. Austin Dillon
7. Paul Menard
8. Trevor Bayne
9. Denny Hamlin
10. AJ Allmendinger

2017 1 Top 10
1. Chase Elliott
2. Jamie McMurray
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Trevor Bayne
7. Aric Almirola
8. Joey Logano
9. Cole Whitt
10. Daniel Suarez

2017 2 Top 10
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Kurt Busch
4. Austin Dillon
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Danica Patrick
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kyle Larson
9. Ty Dillon
10. David Ragan

2016 1 Top 10
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Joey Logano
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Chase Elliott
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Greg Biffle
9. Chris Buescher
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2016 2 Top 10
1. Kyle Busch
2. Jamie McMurray
3. Kurt Busch
4. Carl Edwards
5. Ty Dillon
6. Kyle Larson
7. Danica Patrick
8. Brian Vickers
9. Matt DiBenedetto
10. Michael Annett

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