NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Daytona 500

  The wait is over!

Step away from that sourdough recipe and the gazillionth mandatory Zoom meeting of the day. It's time to focus on something that will truly inspire you and get your heart pumping. And what better way to do that then to go head-to-head with your quarantine buddy in a friendly, but competitive Fantasy NASCAR league?


Skirts and Scuffs launched the NASCAR Fantasy Fusion column almost 10 years ago. I love sorting through statistics and culling information to create winning Fantasy NASCAR teams. I especially love sharing this info with you so that you can claim bragging rights as you leave your friends and family in the dust. 

So let's get this party started at Daytona. It's not a great track for fantasy players, but it sure creates lots of excitement.

This week's pick strategy:
Focus on key drivers who know how to draft and don't forget those rookie drivers. Daytona is one of those tracks where realize unknowns can dominate and win!
Drivers with Most Top 10s in the Last Five Years:
By Race
Both with 4 - Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano
Both with 3 - Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney
All with 2 - Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell and Ryan Newman

By Track
All with 5: Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman
All with 4: Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney
All with 3: Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto

Last Year's Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: A handful of drivers have the knack for drafting. The two Duels confirmed that a couple younger drivers showed promise last year weren't flukes: William Byron and Chris Buescher. My Daytona go-tos are Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell.

No-Brainer Pick: Denny Hamlin

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman and Bubba Wallace

Second-Look Driver: The first Second-Look Driver of the season is Christopher Bell who has moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No.20 car this season with Adam Stevens, two-time Cup champion crew chief. During Duel 1, he finished second and will be starting fifth on the grid on race day. 
In his Daytona 500 debut last year as a Cup driver he finished 21st. In his last two starts at Daytona in 2019 in the Xfinty Series, he finished sixth and fourth. As a Truck Series driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports he finished 16th in 2016 and eighth in 2017, the year he won the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship. I expect to see this young driver make great strides this year.

Points to Ponder:
  • Wood Brothers Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins by an organization at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series with 15 each.
  • The pole position is the most proficient starting position in the Daytona 500 field, producing more winners (nine) than any other position.
  • Denny Hamlin won the last two consecutive (2019, 2020) Daytona 500s. He leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 wins with three (2016, 2019, 2020) and leads all active drivers in Top 5 finishes with seven as well as most laps led in the Daytona 500 with 376.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with three (2003, 2005, 2008).
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 Top10s with nine.
  • Denny Hamlin (13.2) has the best average finish among active drivers with more than one start; he has made 15 appearances in the Daytona 500.
  • Among active drivers, Ryan Blaney has led the most laps in a single Daytona 500, when he led 118 laps in the 2018 Daytona 500 and finished seventh.

If you are plating Driver Group Game, remember to make your final picks on Sunday, February 14th at 2:30 p.m. ET.  Enjoy the race! 

Want to play in our NASCAR Fantasy private league?
Join us at Driver Group Game. Go here:

If you played last year, use your same login credentials as last year and simply go to our league and click on “Check-in” and you’re done.

If not, you’ll just need to do register for a free fan account. Once you are logged in using your new password, choose “Join League” on the left navigation at the bottom.

In the next window, click on Private League. ​In the search window, type in 1714, which is our private league ID. Then click on “Go there.” The password is: SSleague


Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 15 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pours through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Daytona 500 NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Daytona 500 Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, February 12, 2021 Rating: 5