The 2020 Cup Series regular season comes to a close this weekend, but Fantasy NASCAR owners will have a fight on their hands in the finale when we visit Daytona International Speedway. Saturday night's Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be the third superspeedway race of the year, and no type of track on the schedule is tougher to predict.
While there is no safe strategy for surviving the chaos at superspeedways, you can take advantage of the rules for each season-long contest to minimize your risk and maximize your upside.
Fantasy Live is the easiest contest to prepare for this weekend. The first portion of the contest ends this weekend, so budgeting driver starts is no longer an issue. There are plenty of sleepers to pick from at the superspeedways, but if you happen to have some starts remaining from some big names, you might as well use them.
In the Driver Group Game, you still need to be concerned with your driver allocations, and Daytona is a great track to utilize some sleepers. In fact, I recommend using Group B and Group C drivers that you have no plans on using the full allotment of times over the course of the season.
For Slingshot Fantasy Auto, I am going with the stacking-the-back method. With drivers gaining two points for each position gained and losing two points for each position lost, drivers starting deeper in the field are both the safest picks and the picks with the most upside. Don't worry about the names as much as the starting spots in this contest.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
I have one start remaining for Logano, and he just happens to lead all drivers in points scored over the last 10 superspeedway events. His five Top 5s in that same stretch are the second most of any driver, and he ranks second in laps led.
Blaney has been locked in at the superspeedways, and I have one start left to take advantage. He has two wins and a second-place finish in the last three superspeedway events, and he ranks third in points scored over the last 10 races, ranking first in laps led.
He has been the model of consistency at the superspeedways, logging seven finishes of 11th or better in the last 10 races. His 12.3 average finish in that same stretch ranks second in the series, and he has scored the fourth-most points overall.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
A two-time superspeedway winner, he has scored the second-most points over the last 10 superspeedway races, and he has led multiple laps in nine of the 10 races in that span, picking up a second-place finish at Talladega earlier this year. Facing a must-win scenario this weekend, I am expecting Stenhouse to be ultra-aggressive in trying to get the win.
Newman has been the safest option at the superspeedways lately, and over the last 10 races, he leads all drivers with seven Top 10s and an 11.1 average finish. He is also the only driver who has finished on the lead lap in every race in that stretch.
Garage Driver – Ty Dillon
He has been surprisingly reliable at the superspeedways, posting a 15.4 average finish in the last 10 races and finishing 17th or better eight times in that stretch. If one of my starters happens to wreck early, I am hoping to use Dillon as an insurance policy.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
Denny Hamlin (A)
With plenty of strong options available in this group, I am going to use a start from Hamlin this weekend. The three-time Daytona 500 winner has three straight Top 5s at the superspeedways, and his six Top 5s in the last 10 races lead all drivers.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (B)
He is going to be a boom-or-bust option as he tries to win to punch a ticket to the playoffs, but I am going to roll the dice on his upside. He has two superspeedway wins under his belt, and he was the runner-up at Talladega earlier this year. Stenhouse also ranks second in points scored over the last 10 superspeedway events.
Ryan Newman (B)
I am going to play the percentages and go with Newman. His 11.1 average finish in the last 10 superspeedway races leads all drivers, and his seven Top 10s in that span are the most in the series. Aric Almirola should be another solid play, and Chris Buescher could be a sneaky sleeper.
Ty Dillon (C)
Not only is Dillon one of the safest options in this tier, but he is one of the steadiest superspeedway options overall. He ranks in the Top 10 in points scored over the last 10 races, and he has finished 17th or better eight times in that span. Michael McDowell or Corey LaJoie have also compiled solid superspeedway numbers.
Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto
Chase Elliott ($12,600)
There aren't many big names starting deep in the field, but with Elliott slated to roll off 27th, I think he's a no-brainer play. Yes, he has been up and down at the superspeedways, but he won at Talladega last year, and he has led the fourth-most laps in the last five races, leading 23 laps in this year's Daytona 500.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($10,500)
It is going to be checkers-or-wreckers for Stenhouse this weekend, but I can't pass up one of the most productive drivers at the superspeedways from the 31st starting spot. A Top 5 finish and 50-plus place differential points are on the table.
Ty Dillon ($7,000)
I'm stacking the back to go after differential points, and Dillon rolls off 29th. He has also been an underrated superspeedway performer. He has finished 17th or better in eight of his last nine starts, compiling a 15.4 average finish and logging four Top 10s.
Ryan Preece ($6,900)
The sample size is only six races, but Preece has a 17.5 average finish at the superspeedways, and he has gained an average of 10.7 spots per race. Set to start 28th, Preece has plenty of upside in the place differential category.
Brendan Gaughan ($6,200)
Gaughan will probably be a chalk play in this contest, but I see no reason not to roster him. He starts dead last, giving him nothing but upside in the place differential category. He has also proven he can take advantage of differential points, gaining an average of 12.4 spots over the last 10 superspeedway races. Gaughan could finish in the middle of the pack and still add 40-plus points to his score Saturday.