NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2019 season opener at Daytona

Yes, the 2019 NASCAR racing series is about to begin and history is being made. The Daytona 500 is not only the first race in the season, but also the last race where restrictor plates will be used in the series. The tapered spacer package is taking over and the restrictor plates are going the way of the dinosaur. It's also time to crunch some numbers and sift through some stats so that you can earn bragging rights come Monday morning. And NASCAR Fantasy Fusion is here to turn you into an epic Fantasy NASCAR guru. Enjoy and good luck!

Drivers with Most Top 10s in the Last 5 Years:
By Race
Both with 4: Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano
Austin Dillon - 3
All with 2: Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Casey Mears, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson

By Track
Austin Dillon - 7
Denny Hamlin - 6
Both with 5: Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer
All with 4: Kurt Busch, Michael McDowell and Ryan Newman
All with 3: Chris Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Casey Mears

Last Year's Race Winner: Austin Dillon

The Likely Suspects:  The Daytona 500 is a challenging race for fantasy players. Yup, it's pickem' and pray time. My focus will be on these drivers: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell.

My 2 Cents:  Picking for drafting in packs is kind of like double-dating except times three or four. Think groups instead of single drivers. We can predict that racing teams will at times race together in a pack, but drivers will draft with any driver if he's fast and an experienced drafter. It's the "love the one you're with" method. The winner can be a big name or a no-name and that's what makes it so exciting.

My no-brainer pick is Austin Dillon. My next choices are Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, and Ryan Newman.  I'll round out my fantasy team with Chris Buescher and Bubba Wallace. 

Second-Look Driver: The first Second-Look Driver of the season is Michael McDowell. Michael finished last year's race in ninth place. In his last eight Daytona 500 races he had one top five and four top 10s.

My Final Four: Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher

Points to Ponder:
  • 2018 Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon (13.8) has the best average finish among active drivers with more than one start; he has made six appearances in the Daytona 500.
  • Bubba Wallace leads the series in average finishing position in the Daytona 500 with a 2.0 (in his lone appearance last season); of all drivers, not just active, with more than one start, Lee Petty leads the series with a 2.5 in two appearances.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with three.
  • 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).
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 in top-10 finishes with eight.
If you are planning Driver Group Game remember to make your final picks on Sunday, February 17th at 2:30 p.m. ET. Enjoy the race!  

Carol D’Agostino wields fantasy-racing superpowers. Each week, Carol researches statistics and combs through her personal racing notes to provide fans with fantasy racing advice at NASCAR Fantasy Fusion, a column she has written for Skirts & Scuffs since October 2011. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway, and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. This year she joins the NASCAR Expert Picks panel at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet

When she isn’t crunching numbers, you’ll find Carol in business meetings or hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat.  
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2019 season opener at Daytona NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: 2019 season opener at Daytona Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Thursday, February 14, 2019 Rating: 5