NASCAR Picks for Daytona
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Chip Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He is far from consistent at Daytona, but outside of the big names, no driver has more upside than McMurray. He is a former Daytona 500 winner, a two-time winner at the summer race and a three-time winner at restrictor plate tracks. Plain and simple, McMurray has proven he can seal the deal when it comes to plate races.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Busch has a reputation for being a boom or bust fantasy option, but ironically, he has been somewhat consistent at the always unpredictable plate tracks. He ranks eighth in the series in points scored at plate tracks over the past two years, and his three top-5s during the stretch are the second most. At Daytona, Busch has finished in the top 15 in five of his last nine starts.
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His most recent trip to Daytona ended with a dead last finish, but overall, Menard has been rock solid at the track since joining Richard Childress Racing. He has four top-15s in his last six Daytona starts and has three top-10s during the stretch. In his last eight races at the track, Menard only has two finishes outside the top 20.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Hamlin's 21.5 average finish at Daytona leaves a lot to be desired, but he has managed three top-15s in his last five starts at the track after managing just a single top-15 in his first 11 Daytona starts. Throw in a strong showing en route to a win in the Sprint Unlimited last Saturday, and Hamlin has some intriguing potential.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
After a rough start to his career at Daytona, Logano has been figuring out the track the past few seasons. He has three top-10s in his last five starts at Daytona and has a pair of top-5s during the stretch. In his first five starts at the track, he never finished better than 19th.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Any driver can be hit or miss at Daytona, but Kahne has been an extreme example. Since the start of the 2010 season, he has three finishes of seventh or better at the track, including two finishes of fourth or better, to go along with five finishes of seventh or worse. Last year, he finished outside the top 30 in both starts at Daytona, so you have to be willing to gamble a bit if you add Kahne to your roster this weekend.
Michael Waltrip, #66 PEAK BlueDEF, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class C]
While he spends most of his time in the announcer's booth, Waltrip has still been doing work when he does get behind the wheel. He was among the top-10 scorers in the series at plate tracks last year, and in the last three races at Daytona, he has two top-10s. Remember, all four of Waltrip's Cup wins have come at plate tracks, including three at Daytona.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
The veteran has been in a bit of a drought at Daytona recently. Since the start of the 2008 season, he has just two top-10s and one top-5 finish in 12 starts at the track. During the same stretch, he has seven finishes outside the top 25. Gordon could turn things around as soon as Sunday, but the numbers are certainly not encouraging.
Danica Patrick, #10 GoDaddy.com, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class C]
Patrick struggled at a lot of tracks last season, but Daytona wasn't one of them. She won her only pole and scored her only top-10 of 2013 in the Daytona 500, and she also managed a top-15 in the July event at the track. She has legit value as a sleeper pick this weekend. In leagues that require a unique pick every race, this may be the best time to use her.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
As a part-time driver, Vickers hasn't raced at Daytona in either of the past two seasons. However, he does have five top-15s in his last seven starts at the track, including four finishes of 12th or better. The layoff is a bit worrisome, but Vickers does have some potential this weekend.
Bobby Labonte, #52 TBA, HScott Motorsports [Yahoo Class C]
He is in the twilight of his career, but Labonte has been shockingly reliable at Daytona the past few years. He has four top-15s in his last six starts at the track, and in his last 12 starts, he has finished 23rd or better 11 times. Labonte may not have a ton of upside, but his stay-out-of-trouble approach makes him a legit sleeper play.
Martin Truex, Jr., #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Truex will start on the front row Sunday, but his track record at Daytona isn't exactly encouraging. In 17 starts at Daytona, he has a 22.5 average finish, and he only has a single top-10 finish. Worse yet, he has finished outside the top 15 six times in his last seven starts at the track.
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