The Setup – Daytona 500
By Tyler Miller

The 62nd running of the Daytona 500 is coming up on Sunday at 2:30 pm eastern. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman will start on the front row. Last year’s winner, Denny Hamlin, will start 21st. This is NASCAR’s biggest race of the year and, from a DFS standpoint, can be one of the most unpredictable. Large, multiple car crashes are a trademark of this event. If we can construct a lineup where all of our plays stay on the track and out of wrecks, we should have a good day.

Let’s get started.
Race Distance: 200 laps (500 miles). Stage 1 ends on lap 65, Stage 2 ends on lap 130.
Lineup Lock 2:30 pm eastern Sunday
2019 Daytona 500 winner: Denny Hamlin (started 11th)
2019 July race winner: Justin Haley (started 34th)
2019 Pole Sitter: William Byron (finished 21st)

Past Winners: Daytona 500/July race (starting position)
2018: Austin Dillon (14th)/ Erik Jones (29th)
2017: Kurt Busch (8th)/ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6th)
2016: Denny Hamlin (11th)/ Brad Keselowski (5th)
2015: Joey Logano (5th)/ Dale Earhardt Jr (1st)

Duel Recap:
What went right?

There is not much that went right on Thursday night. Bubba Wallace was the best play from Victory Lane scoring the third most points with a 5th place finish and +12 differential. Austin Dillon was a solid play, scoring the 10th most points with a 6th place finish, 1 lap led, and +9 differential.

What went wrong?
The first crash of the night took out Daniel Suarez and damaged Ryan Blaney’s car. Even without that crash, the lineup design was wrong. I was too aggressive in pursuit of differential points and did not play drivers that I thought could win each race. A strong lineup needs a balance of differential points and drivers who can win the race. I leaned too heavily on drivers who were starting outside the top 10 and didn’t have a chance to win the race. We will face similar decisions for the Daytona 500 when drivers like Denny Hamlin (21st), Chase Elliott (25th), Kyle Busch (28th), and Clint Bowyer (29th) are all starting in the back half of the field. Can we play those drivers with confidence in a top 10 finish with +15 differential or are there better options to play?

What to watch for in final practice:
Finding Value: I think I know where I am going for value on Sunday, but I want to be sure that the driver I pick can keep up in the draft. Watch for the bottom priced guys to see who stands out. You want to be sure that your value driver can draft in a straight line (not fade up off the yellow line in a corner) and keep up with the car in front of him.

Where are you going with the top end? Are Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin must plays? Do you feel confident in Toyota’s speed despite the fact that there are only five Toyotas in the race? Are there high end Chevrolet or Ford drivers that could be smart contrarian plays if you fade Busch and Hamlin? These are all things to think about in final practice.

Listen to drivers: Who is happy? Is anyone upset with how their car is driving? Are there any wrecks or near wrecks with ill handling race cars? Look to see how the cars are handling in the draft and listen to the driver interviews after they climb out of the cars for the final time on Saturday.

What Vegas thinks:

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are favored at 10-1. Elliott, Logano, and Keselowski closely follow. Ryan Blaney is 16-1 despite starting in a backup car on Sunday.

Denny Hamlin 10-1
Kyle Busch 10-1
Chase Elliott 11-1
Joey Logano 11-1
Brad Keselowski 11-1
Kevin Harvick 12-1
Martin Truex Jr. 13-1
Ryan Blaney 16-1
Alex Bowman 20-1
William Byron 20-1
Matt DiBenedetto 20-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 20-1
Jimmie Johnson 20-1
Kurt Busch 25-1
Clint Bowyer 25-1
Aric Almirola 25-1
Erik Jones 25-1

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 Daytona 500 Top 10
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kyle Busch
3. Erik Jones
4. Joey Logano
5. Michael McDowell
6. Ty Dillon
7. Kyle Larson
8. Ryan Preece
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Ross Chastain

2019 July Top 10 (Race called short due to rain)
1. Justin Haley
2. William Byron
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Ty Dillon
5. Ryan Newman
6. Corey LaJoie
7. Aric Almirola
8. Matt DiBenedetto
9. Matt Tifft
10. Kurt Busch

2018 Daytona 500 Top 10
1. Austin Dillon
2. Bubba Wallace
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Joey Logano
5. Chris Buescher
6. Paul Menard
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Ryan Newman
9. Michael McDowell
10. A.J. Allmendinger

2018 July Top 10
1. Erik Jones
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. A.J. Allmendinger
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Chris Buescher
6. Ty Dillon
7. Matt DiBenedetto
8. Ryan Newman
9. Austin Dillon
10. Alex Bowman

Stay Tuned for updated content Saturday night.

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