NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Season closer at Daytona

William Byron is getting lots of use out of that silly big cap. Last week's victory at Watkins Glen was William's first career road course win and his fifth overall this season, the most in the Cup Series this year. William is certainly getting hot at the right time. But the real question this week will be if William's teammates Alex Bowman or Chase Elliott will win or score enough points to make it into the Playoffs. There's only one spot left to fill. Either Bowman or Elliott could win to get in, of course, unless we get a repeat winner or a new winner that doesn't work for Rick Hendrick. Stay tuned.

This Week's Pick Strategy: Fantasy picks for superspeedways are a lot like picking for road courses. This one gets a little dicey though because it's also the last regular race of season. There's too much on the line for about half of the field who can almost taste a walk-off win. Do yourself a favor and don't get caught up in all the story lines. Instead focus on the tried-and-true drivers who have demonstrated a knack for this style of racing.  

Drivers with Most Top 10s in the Last Five Years:
By Race
All with 3: Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 2: Bubba Wallace, Justin Haley, Tyler Reddick, Ty Dillon, BJ McLeod, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, William Byron, and Chase Elliott.

By Track
All with 5: Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney.
All with 4: Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, and Chase Elliott.
All with 3: Ty Dillon, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece, Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson.
Last Year's Race Winner: Austin Dillon

The Likely Suspects: My Daytona elites include Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott.

My 2 Cents: This week's no-brainer pick is a tie between Joey Logano and Bubba Wallace. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, and Alex Bowman. I will round out my team with Corey LaJoie and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

My Final Four: Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Austin Dillon. Superspeedways are more than a bit unpredictable. However, it seems you can always depend on the Dillon brothers finding each other sometime during the Daytona race and running toward the front. Austin slightly edges out his brother in average finishing position 15.6 versus 18.1. Austin is the defending winner of the 2022 regular season finale at Daytona. He currently is mired way back in 29th in the driver's standings.

If he brings his No. 3 to Victory Lane he would become the sixth driver in series history to win consecutive summer races at Daytona International Speedway, and more importantly he would do the walk-off win to make it to the Playoffs. For Austin it would the sixth-time in his career that he has appeared in the Playoffs (2022, '20, '18, '17, '16).

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 64 summer Daytona International Speedway races (14.06%) 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 at Daytona International Speedway with four.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active Cup Series drivers in Top 10s at Daytona with 16. 
  • Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch lead all active drivers in Top 10 finishes in the Summer race at Daytona with six Top 10s each. 
  • 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 all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona with a 10.5 in four starts.
  • Bubba Wallace leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona in the Summer races with a 10.333 in six starts.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led in the Summer Daytona races with 184 laps led out of 2,622 laps completed (7.0%) in 18 starts.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active series drivers in laps led at Daytona with 654 laps led out of 5,922 laps completed (11.1%) in 35 starts – he is ranked 10th on the all-time list.

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

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: Season closer at Daytona NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Season closer at Daytona Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, August 25, 2023 Rating: 5