NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona DraftKings Preview

NASCAR DFS: Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona DraftKings Preview

Although the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series seasons officially begins in a couple weeks with the 60th running of the Daytona 500, DFS NASCAR returns this weekend for the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona.

DraftKings will be running contests for the 75-lap preseason race will be held after qualifying for the Daytona 500 Sunday afternoon and help kick off Speedweeks. The race will be divided into two segments, a 25-lap opener and a 50-lap sprint to the finish, and 17 drivers will battle for the victory.

From a DFS standpoint, the format of the Clash is a game changer. The pack racing a superspeedways like Daytona already make the dominator categories less valuable than normal, and with just 75 laps on tap, you certainly don’t need to chase the laps led and fastest laps run points.

The small field will be even more influential. The typical way to combat the chaos of a restrictor-plate race is to load up on drivers starting near the rear to maximize your potential gain and minimize your potential loss in the place differential category. In a 17-driver field, that category becomes a lot less meaningful.

Add it all up, and I think building a winning lineup this weekend is more about picking six drivers who finish at the front than it is piling up points in the other categories.

Of course, the small field will also mean less lineup differentiation, especially in larger contests, and the Clash can essentially be viewed as NASCAR’s version of a small slate. I recommend throwing in a sleeper pick or two when building your GPP lineups to separate yourself from the pack. There are some restrictor-plate studs in the field that you will probably need to own to be in the running, but I think it will be someone unexpected who ends up bringing you the big bucks.

Must-Own Drivers

Brad Keselowski

Keselowski hasn’t won the Clash before, but he has finished sixth or better in four of his five starts in the event. More importantly, he is arguably the best restrictor-plate driver in the series today, winning three of the last seven races to give him six career wins at plate tracks. Keselowski leads laps and contends for wins whenever the series visits Daytona or Talladega. You are going to want plenty of exposure to him Sunday.

Denny Hamlin

He won the Clash the first time he entered it, and Hamlin added two more wins in the event in 2014 and 2016. He has been one of the most successful restrictor-plate drivers in the series in recent years, and no driver has scored more points at Daytona since 2015. Hamlin has to be on the short list of favorites to head to victory lane Sunday, so make sure to have him in your lineups.

Joey Logano

Logano is the defending winner of the Clash, and no one has been more consistent in the preseason event in recent years. He has finished sixth or better in his last five starts, posting a 3.3 average finish. Logano has also scored the third-most points over the last 10 restrictor-plate events, and he and his Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, have combined to win half the races in that span. Get Logano in your lineups.

Kevin Harvick

He always seems to deliver on big stages, and the Clash has been no exception. Harvick’s three wins in the event are tied for the second most in NASCAR history, and he has cracked the Top 5 in three of his last five starts and seven of his 13 starts overall. With a small field and a limited number of laps, you want to build around drivers who are going to be contending for the win. Harvick’s resume in the Clash stacks up with any driver out there.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The last time he was in the Clash was 2016 when he finished sixth, and in the meantime, Stenhouse has emerged as one of the top restrictor-plate drivers in the Cup Series. He won the spring race at Talladega and the July race at Daytona last year, and he has four Top 5s in the last six plate events. A Clash victory could be the next thing Stenhouse adds to his growing resume.

Difference Makers

Kyle Larson

Larson’s numbers at the plate tracks have been steadily improving, and he has five Top 15s in the last six races. He’s also been surprisingly strong in the Clash, logging Top 5s in two of his three starts in the event. Larson hasn’t yet established himself as one of the premier restrictor-plate drivers, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him celebrating Sunday. I love him as a pivot to the obvious top plays.

Jamie McMurray

He has been a boom-or-bust option at the plate tracks throughout his career, but McMurray has the upside that can set your lineup apart and get you paid this weekend. He has four career restrictor-plate wins, including two at Daytona, and he has three Top 3 finishes in the Clash.

Ryan Blaney

His Team Penske teammates should be among the most popular plays Sunday, but don’t forget that Blaney is now working with the same dominant restrictor-plate equipment. He’s already shown some upside at the plate tracks while driving for the Wood Brothers, logging five Top 15s in 12 starts and finishing second in last year’s Daytona 500. Stacking all three Penske cars could prove to be a profitable strategy.

Kasey Kahne

There is no doubt that his offseason move from Hendrick Motorsports to Leavine Family Racing is an equipment downgrade for Kahne, but if there is one track where money can’t buy success, it’s Daytona. Michael McDowell drove for the No. 95 LFR team last year and finished 15th in the Daytona 500 and fourth in the July race at the track. Meanwhile, Kahne finished in the Top 10 in three of the four plate races a season ago. Kahne could be a sneaky lineup addition Sunday.

Wild Card

Erik Jones

Jones was terrible at the plate tracks as a rookie, finishing outside the Top 30 in three of the four races and posting a 29.2 average finish. Bad luck played a role, for sure, but so did his aggressive style. Well, the same checkers-or-wreckers attitude that got him in trouble last year could be a benefit as he makes his debut in the Clash, a much shorter race with a much smaller field. I don’t expect him to be widely owned, and Jones could end up being the surprise play that makes you a lot of money.