Driver Group Game

2018 Daytona International Speedway, Coke Zero Sugar 400

One of the best finishes of the year and make no mistake about it, Kyle Busch had every right to win the race he did. Once again one of the ‘Big 3’ won another race and all three of them finished in the top four. As a matter of fact, the five best drivers on the season all finished in the top five in my opinion. It’s kind of a shame that four drivers have won the fifteen races that weren’t run on a restrictor plate track this season. For those of you who are sick of seeing Harvick, Kyle Busch, Truex, and Bowyer win races you might get to see something new this weekend.


That’s right! The series is heading back to the Daytona International Speedway for the second time this season. Another restrictor plate race where anyone entered can win. It doesn’t matter which teams have the best equipment here. It is up to the driver to find someone they can trust and draft with to make their way to the front. It is more important to try to stay out of the big wreck early in the race and look to get into position to win during the last twenty laps.

Teamwork is going to be the name of the game this weekend. If you can’t get along with your teammates you might as well stay home because you are going to find yourself out of the draft and getting lapped in a hurry. David Ragan and David Gilliland proved that any team can win at a restrictor plate track if they just work together and Trevor Bayne proved that a single car team can win here if they stay out of trouble.

Joey Logano: I am going to go with Joey for the win this weekend. He won the race at Talladega earlier this season and has finished in the top ten in four of his last five starts at Daytona. We have seen how fast the Ford’s have been all season long and they have shown that they are the fastest cars at the restrictor plate tracks too. That doesn’t mean a Ford driver will win, but they all seem to stick together and run up front at these races this season.

Paul Menard: Paul has two top five and three top ten finishes in his last five starts at Daytona. Add to the fact he is now driving for the Wood Brothers in a Ford, the same team Trevor Bayne won at this track in the Daytona 500 a few years ago. Now you have the recipe for success at this track. After winning the pole at Chicagoland last week, this team has shown that they have the speed to compete at Daytona with the rest of the teams and a driver that knows how to do it.

Austin Dillon: This year’s Daytona 500 winner, Austin has always been good at these races. Besides his win here to start out the season, Austin has three top ten finishes in his last five starts also. Even after being thrown into the catch fence in one of the most horrific crashes in recent memory, he still has shown he is not afraid of mixing it up and making his way to the front of these races.

Michael McDowell: Michael is the only driver to finish in the top twenty in each of the last five races run here. Not really a name we look at when we talk fantasy racing, but he knows how to race at this track. He has three top ten finishes in his last five starts besides always being in the top twenty. He is someone we can use in the C group or the driver group game and someone you can get value for in a salary cap game.

AJ Allmendinger: Usually when we talk about AJ it is for a road course race, but he has been really good at Daytona the past few seasons coming away with three top ten finishes in his last five races. I think AJ just has the patience at these tracks to know he has to stay out of trouble and wait until the end to hook up with someone he can draft with. This is always the toughest part for teams like this, but AJ always seems to find the solution.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky has been very fast at the restrictor plate tracks the past few seasons himself. He seems to take a lot of risks here which can get him into trouble and take him out of contention. If he can keep himself patient early in the race and stay out of trouble he will be able to find someone to draft with and he will get back to the front late in the race. Patience is the key for him, for we know he will have the speed.

Denny Hamlin: The winner of the 2016 Daytona 500, Denny has finished in the top five in two of his past five starts here. He always seems to have a good car at these tracks and if this team can avoid making mistakes on pit road they should remain in contention at the end of the race. He could team up with any of the other Toyota drivers and find himself back in victory lane.

Darrell Wallace Jr.: Let’s not forget what Bubba did in the Daytona 500 this year. He stayed out of trouble and the spotlight until late in the race when you started hearing his name called. He came close to winning this race using his patience and learning as he went to come away with a runner-up finish. He has been a bit disappointing since that time, but I think he could use his patience to his advantage once again this weekend.

Aric Almirola: Aric was leading the Daytona 500 with a half of a lap to go in February only to see his hopes dashed when he got wrecked. It is not surprising to see these late race wrecks on these tracks because all of the drivers are so bunched up and a win is so big. It is even bigger this year because it is almost guaranteed to get you into the playoffs. I look for Aric to have another great run here this weekend.

Kurt Busch: Kurt is one of the best restrictor plate drivers in the series and he should have more wins than he does on these tracks. In thirty-four starts at Daytona he has thirteen top five and seventeen top ten finishes. He has come close so many times, but has only one win to show for his efforts. This might be the weekend he picks up that second victory and gets himself qualified for the playoffs at the same time.


Driver Group Game Group A

  • Joey Logano
  • Denny Hamlin

Driver Group Game Group B

  • Paul Menard
  • Austin Dillon
  • Aric Almirola
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Driver Group Game Group C

  • Michael McDowell
  • Chris Buescher


  1. Joey Logano
  2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Aric Almirola
  5. Kurt Busch

Dark Horse: Paul Menard

Stay Away From: William Byron

Big 18: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

30 replies on “2018 Daytona International Speedway, Coke Zero Sugar 400”

No BK? He usually controls these restrictor plate tracks very well and he is a must for Talladega and Daytona in my opinion.

Yes, Brad is good at the restrictor plate tracks. I am just going with the averages over the past couple of seasons at Daytona and Joey has just been better.

He is too good everywhere else to take a chance on him at a restrictor plate track and having him get in a wreck. I would save his starts for other tracks.

You can take a chance on anyone you won’t be using 9 times during the year on other tracks. Anyone can win this race.

I get eight picks in my league can use any driver however many times I choose as long as they all fit into salary cap.

Preliminary lineup : 41-22-12-21-10-47-43-34

Without knowing the cap or the salaries I won’t be able to give you any advice on this. Good luck!

Strictly in save starts mode with almost 400 point lead.
Right now i have logano (9) Hamlin (7) but am thinking Kez (9) instead of Hamlin possibly.
Hamlin has been his own worst enemy at times , especially when i start but he is so good here
With the best avg finish over the last 11 races here.
With a big lead who would u put on your roster in A based on my info. (Have 9 left with JJ too)
Roster is identical to yours except for Newman instead of almirola and bubba instead of buescher.
Appreciate your thoughts each week. Dont always follow ur picks but your insight helps me make my picks at times

This is a save starts race in my opinion so I say just don’t use Harvick, Truex or Busch in the A group and go with whoever else you want there. I am using Buescher in C just because I am hoping Bubba will get better as the season goes on and don’t want to waste one of his starts here even though he finished second in the 500.

Makes sense, bubba does appear to be on an upswing. Makes him more valuable later in season.

I may set up with 22 11 17 10 41 & 21 in the garage to start with! these are my uses left!
#22=5 uses left
#11=5 uses left
#17=9 uses left
#10=8 uses left
#41=5 uses left
#21=8 uses left & I have him in the garage to start with!
Thoughts on this set up? Would you swap any out to save starts on the #22, #11 or #41? Thanks for the advice! you helped me win Talladega!!

The best advice I can give you is not to waste starts on drivers you would use elsewhere during the season on this or any restrictor plate track. The risk versus reward on these tracks is too great with the potential for everyone getting caught up in the same wreck. Use your seldom used drivers and take your lumps here. Most people will take a beating when half the field gets wiped out in a wreck.

I think this is picks to win.
Joey Logano
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Denny Hamlin
Aric Almirola
Kurt Busch

#11,or #42!!! The #11 has a 12th place average finish over the last 6 Daytona races and the #42 has a 15th place average finish. Considering how the #42 has looked the last few weeks he isnt a bad pick in my book.

That’s a lot of big name drivers to use if you are limited to uses. Granted they could all run great, but typically there’s atleast a few surprises in the top five/ten at the end of these things and a lot of times the surefire picks will either wreck or just get shuffled out of the draft and vice versus someone gets good run in the draft, all cars can run on equal playing grounds this week, could be a championship contender winner, maybe someone who is a former Daytona or Dega winner, may be a first time winner. Like you said yourself you never know with these things but if you are limited on your picks I would hold off on 18 & 4 definitely! Actually all the guys in your lineup are all top-tier drivers , I would definitely recommend throwing some wild cards / dark horses out there like 43/47/34/38/37 just to mention a few that come to mind. 88 also a good pick as of late and especially at plate racing. 10 is definitely a great pick, would also look into the 21, and of looking for another top tier driver look at the 12, also 17. So many different factors in this race all comes down to being in the right place at the right time as well as experience and patience certainly, and staying out of trouble which can be hard whether running up from/mid pack or in the rear of the field. Best of luck to you!

Fortunately I’m in a league where you are limited only by salary cap, so I just set my team up the best I can, based on the info I have at hand. I believe I have the best lineup money can buy, based on past history and raw speed. Sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I don’t but at least I know I used the best team of drivers I possibly could, so there’s never any regrets/ what if’s, etc. The year Austin Dillon wrecked in the fence was my best race at Daytona.

pole award? I know it’s hard at this track! I went on a limb & chose 21 Paul Menard to get back to back poles after going 10 years in between them!

Ford drivers held the top 7 spots in the only practice session, so I would go with one of those and Menard is one of those.

Mentioned before big lead in my league. (456 points)
Logano 8 *
Hamlin 7

Dillon 9 *
Stenhouse 7 *
Newman 7
Menard 8

Mcdowell 9 *
Wallace 6

* starters.

Your thoughts?

The only difference we have is I am starting Menard instead of Dillon. I am sticking with all Ford’s once again. You look good on starts remaining, so I would go with my gut and you should stick with who you have if that is how you feel. Anyone can win and anything can happen here.

That was the worst example of a Stock Car race I’ve ever seen. Brian France, Mike Helton, and their cronies have officially turned one of the most successful and promising racing organzations, in to total, and absolute RUIN!

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