NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona

Last week at Watkins Glen,  Kyle Larson ended his longest winless streak since joining Hendrick Motorsports, and boy was it an eventful victory producing some hurt feelings with teammate Chase Elliott. I hear the folks at the Dawsonville Pool Room were poised ready to sound the siren. It looked like just good old hard racing to me, but then again I'm not a race car driver. I have a feeling last week's race is going to look timid in comparison to this week's race at Daytona. Between those drivers who must win to make it into the Playoffs and all those drivers who won here before who'd love to spoil the party, it should be a nerve-wracking and exciting race.

This Week's Pick Strategy: Historically, the Wood Brothers and Hendrick Motorsports have been the teams to beat here at Daytona with 15 wins each, but I wouldn't count out those Team Penske drivers. . I'm going to hedge my bets and sprinkle in those desperately-need-a-win drivers as well. After all, anything can happen, and usually does with pack racing!
Drivers with Most Top 10s in the Last Five Years:
By Race
Chris Buescher - 4
Alex Bowman - 3
All with 2: Justin Haley, A.J. Allmendinger, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, William Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, and Ryan Blaney.

By Track
All with 5: Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney, and Joey Logano
All with 4: A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon, and Erik Jones
Last Year's Race Winner: Ryan Blaney

The Likely Suspects: My Daytona elites include Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, A.J. Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones.

My 2 Cents: This week's no-brainer pick is Ryan Blaney. My next picks are Martin Truex Jr., Chris (or Christopher) Buescher, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, and Joey Logano. I will round out my team with Austin Cindric and Justin Haley.

My Final Four: Ryan Blaney, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, and Austin Cindric.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Austin Cindric. Cindric heads into this weekend looking to become the sixth different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to sweep both Daytona races (Daytona 500 & Summer race) in a single season. Here at Daytona he has earned one win, one Top 5 and one Top 10 for a series-best average finish of 8.000.

Points to Ponder:
  • Denny Hamlin (Feb. 2016, Feb. 2019, Feb. 2020) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Daytona wins with three. 
  • Nine of the 63 summer Daytona International Speedway races (14.2%) in the NASCAR Cup Series have been won from the pole (first starting position.)
  • The Wood Brothers and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins at Daytona in the NASCAR Cup Series with 15 victories each; both have done it with seven different winning drivers. 
  •  Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick lead all active Cup Series drivers in Top 5s at Daytona with 11 each.
  •  Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in runner-up finishes in the Summer race at Daytona with three as well as Top 5s here in the Summer race with five.
  •  Kevin Harvick leads all active Cup Series drivers in Top 10s at Daytona with 16 as well as in Top 10s finishes in the Summer race here with six. 
  • Justin Haley leads the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona in the Summer race with a 3.500 in two starts.
  • Austin Cindric leads the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona with an 8.0 in two starts.

Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on August 26th, and your final picks by 7 p.m. ET on race day, Saturday, August 27th.

Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores 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: Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Thursday, August 25, 2022 Rating: 5