Best Bets – Daytona
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Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.
The MENCS returns to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday's Coke Zero Sugar 400, the third race of the season at a superspeedway. Unfortunately for race fans, it's Florida and the summer, and there is a 100 percent chance of rain on Saturday afternoon, tailing off to 60 percent for the evening hours. The forecast shows the chances of rain/thunderstorms lessening by 8 p.m. ET, and lessening even more by 10 p.m. ET. It might be a long night in Daytona, and you can expect some sort of a delay due to wetaher.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch (3/1) is listed as the favorite for Saturday's race. However, he isn't among the Top 10 in Driver Rating across the past five starts at the superspeedway, according to NASCAR's Loop Data. While he was a runner-up in the 500 back in February, that was his first top-5 showing since the summer of 2016 at DIS. In 28 Cup starts at Daytona he has just one win, eight top-5 finishes and nine top-10 finishes with 420 laps led and a very mediocre 18.6 Average-Finish Position (AFP) with seven DNFs.
Martin Truex Jr. (6/1) has also had some very average numbers over the years at Daytona. He posted a 35th-place showing in the 500 back in February, and he has finished 20th or lower in four of his past five starts at the track. As such, like his teammate Busch, MTJ doesn't appear in the Top 10 in Driver Rating over the past five starts at the Florida superspeedway. In fact, none of the JGR Toyotas appear in the Top 10 in the Driver Rating category. Denny Hamlin (18/1) might be the best bet from the JGR stable, as he has a win in February at Daytona, and a 14.0 AFP over the past three starts at the track. Erik Jones (20/1) won last summer's race at Daytona, and he has three top-10 finishes in the past four outings at the track.
Penske Racing driver Ryan Blaney (20/1) sits atop the Driver Rating category at 96.2 across the past five starts at Daytona, leading a circuit-best 142 laps while running 70.0 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. While his past two starts at Daytona have resulted in DNFs, he might be a threat to make noise. His teammate Joey Logano (8/1) is on the pole for the first time in his career at the track, as he searches for his second Daytona win in 22 Cup starts. He has a tremendous 17.0 AFP, which is fourth-best among all drivers with at least seven Cup starts. It's been hit or miss for Brad Keselowski (8/1), as he has a win and 199 laps led in 20 career start at the track, but also just three top-5 finishes, four top-10 showings and a very mediocre 22.4 AFP.
Hendrick Motorsports driver and seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson (30/1) checks in eighth in Driver Rating (80.0) over the past five Daytona starts espite running just 48.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. In his career he has three Daytona wins, most among any active driver, while posting 11 top-5s, 15 top-10s and 299 laps led with 10 DNFs and an 18.3 AFP. Teammate Chase Elliott (10/1) has not enjoyed himself at Daytona, ending up with three DNFs and non top-10 finishes in seven starts with a very average 27.0 AFP. Alex Bowman (30/1), coming off checkers last week at Chicagoland, has had some solid showings at DIS over the years. In six career starts he has a 16.3 AFP with 14 laps led, and he has finished 24th or better in each of his showings with no DNFs. Loop Data shows him with a 96.0 Driver Rating, second-best among all drivers, while running inside the Top 15 in 82.9 percent of his laps, best among all active drivers over the past five DIS starts.
Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (100/1) is always a threat on the superspeedways. He has a 93.3 Driver Rating over the past five Daytona starts, ranking third among all active drivers. He has a victory in 14 Cup starts at Daytona, posting an 18.4 AFP with 95 laps led and nine finishes of 20th or better. Richard Petty Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr. (1000/1) is a longshot, but he has posted some nice numbers over the years at Daytona. In four Cup starts he has a top-5 showing, a top-10 finishes and a respectable 17.3 AFP. He was second to Erik Jones in the 500 in Feb. 2018.
Other drivers to watch include Stewart-Haas Racing's Clint Bowyer (18/1), who has a 16.2 AFP in 27 Cup starts at Daytona with 12 finishes inside the Top 10. His teammate Kevin Harvick (9/2) managed two victory in 36 previous Cup races at Daytona, nad he has nine top-5 finishes and 14 top-10 showings wih a solid 17.5 AFP. Ganassi Racing driver Kurt Busch(20/1) is always a threat on the superspeedway, too, as he has a win, 14 top-5 finishes and 17 top-10 showings in 36 Cup starts with a 17.9 AFP at Daytona.
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