NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2018 Season Opener at Daytona

by Carol D'Agostino

The Daytona 500 is always an exciting race. Drivers get to shake off the rust from the off season and begin what they hope will be a championship-winning one. The challenge is there's at least 39 other drivers who have the same idea. NASCAR Fantasy players have been chomping at the bit as well. This year we've lost a mainstay game as Yahoo Sports Fantasy Auto Racing has been discontinued. However, a new game called Driver Group Game has emerged which mirrors that Yahoo game.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion is here to help you make your weekly picks so you can earn bragging rights at the water cooler come Monday morning. This year, I am adding a new section called "Second Look Driver" for that driver who may not be on your radar, but should be. Here's my take on this week, although it's only fair to warn you at Daytona anything can and will happen. Good luck!

Drivers with Most Top 10s in the Last 5 Years:
By Race
All with 3: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson
All with 2: Regan Smith, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon 
A.J. Allmendinger - 1

By Track
Clint Bowyer - 6
All with 5: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon
Both with 4: Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell
Regan Smith - 2

Last Year's Race Winner: Kurt Busch

The Likely Suspects:  The Daytona 500 is not for the faint of heart fantasy players. It's a restrictor plate race folks, so pickem' and pray. My focus will be on these drivers: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell.

My 2 Cents: The Daytona 500 is an amazing race because you can draft from the back to the front in a mere lap, so don't count out those eight drivers who are being sent to the back after mangling their primary cars in the Duels on Thursday. It's the one race where a relative unknown can win. It is also notorious for making fantasy players a little crazy.

My no-brainer pick is Denny Hamlin. My next choices are Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. I'll round out my fantasy team with Michael McDowell and Brendan Gaughan. 

Second-Look Driver: The first Second-Look Driver of the season is A.J. Allmendinger. A.J. has had some consistency issues, but when he's on, he's on. Last year he finished third at the Daytona 500 and has an 11.25 average finish in the last four races at Daytona International Speedway.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell

Points to Ponder:
  • The pole position is the most proficient starting position in the Daytona 500 field, producing more winners (nine) than any other position; followed by second-place (seven wins) and fourth-place (seven wins).
  •  Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with seven. (Johnson is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen for ninth most-all-time). 
  • Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with eight. 
  • The Wood Brothers have won 15 races at Daytona, more than any other organization.
If you are planning Driver Group Game remember to make your picks by 2:30 p.m. on race day (February 18).  

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2018 Season Opener at Daytona NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2018 Season Opener at Daytona Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Sunday, February 18, 2018 Rating: 5