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Welcome back to another season of daily fantasy NASCAR with Rotoballer. As always, we get started with the biggest race of the season the Daytona 500 from Daytona International Speedway. To kick off this season, I am writing this article while sitting in the infield at Daytona and have spent the entire week in the pits and garage and also got to interview some drivers on media day(stay tuned for those).

Qualifying and all practices have wrapped up and now it's time to get down and dirty and build some lineups. The first thing we to realize before picking any drivers is that restrictor plate tracks area a completely different animal. The first thing to note is that we are looking to build the core of our lineup with place differential plays and there are definitely a few to choose from. This also makes it a bit easier to be contrarian as those top drivers starting farther back will likely be very chalky leaving some drivers starting inside the top 10 under-owned. Something else we can take advantage of on the plate tracks is stacking teammates or manufacturers with all the drafting that goes on during the race.

Let's jump in and take a look at some of the top plays.

Daily Fantasy NASCAR: DraftKings DFS Lineup Picks - Daytona 500

Jimmie Johnson($9,100) & William Byron($7,300)

Jimmie wrecked another car during the qualifying Duel races on Thursday night and will start 38th on Sunday giving him elite place differential value. While he goes to a backup car, he finished the practice sessions strong on Saturday with the fifth-best speed and will be a force if he hooks up with his Hendrick teammates. He is a two-time Daytona 500 champion and knows what it takes to win this race. He will be chalky but very tough to fade this week.

This will be Byron's first Monster Energy Cup Series race but he had a ton of success here at Daytona in last season's Xfinity series. He finished ninth in February after starting 17th and then won the July race after starting third. He will start 33rd on Sunday and was 20th or better in all five practice sessions and will likely hook up with Jimmie early on making the pair an excellent stack.

Aric Almirola($7,700)

Almirola comes in ranked #1 in my model this week and for good reason. He won the Daytona race in July of 2014 and has not only finished Top 15 in five of his last six Daytona races but also finished Top 5 in all three restrictor plate races he was in last year. He was also in the mix for the win in Saturday's Xfinity race before getting caught up in a crash. Almirola was caught up in the same wreck as Jimmie on Thursday and will start back in 37th giving him elite place differential value making him a terrific fantasy play in all formats.

Matt DiBenedetto($5,400)

If you are planning on playing stars and scrubs, DiBenedetto makes a nice value play in the sub $6K range. He not only starts 36th on Sunday but is also coming off an excellent 2017 season at Daytona where he finished ninth at the Daytona 500(started 25th) and 13th at the July race(started 28th). At only $5,400 this week, he is a great play in all formats.

Denny Hamlin($9,800)

If you are looking to separate yourself in GPP formats, you will need to take some risks and go against the grain which at Daytona is place differential. Denny starts on the front row beside Alex Bowman and has no upside when looking at place differential but with Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, and Brad Keselowski soaking up a ton of ownership it may be worth the risk. After all, he is a tremendous plate racer and despite finishing 17, 17th, 24th in his last three Daytona races, won the 2016 Daytona 500 which was the end of his streak of five straight finishes of sixth or better.

NASCAR DFS Cheat Sheet

Don't have the time to search multiple sites looking for NASCAR stats and data?

Check out my DFS NASCAR cheatsheet which includes Track History(2-Year Trend & Career), Track Type History(2-Year Trend), Current Form, Practice/Qualifying Data, and a weighted system to get an overall rank for each driver each race. Check out it now while it's still in BETA mode and FREE to everyone. Also, be sure to check out the Race by Race Trends Sheet.


DFS & Fantasy NASCAR Chat Room

If you have any questions leading up to the race hit me up in the chat below!