Daytona XFINITY Series – DraftKings Plays

Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

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Although the offseason saw the demise of both the Yahoo and FOX fantasy NASCAR games, DraftKings is expanding its NASCAR DFS contests in 2018, adding the XFINITY Series to the mix. As a fan of the series, I’m looking forward to the addition. Overall, I think it will offer a bit of a different strategy dynamic compared to the Cup Series.

Cup drivers like Kyle Busch tend to dominate the XFINITY races they do enter, and I think we will see unprecedented price tags for NASCAR DFS. I’m thinking last year’s Russell Westbrook-type price tags. With the importance of the dominator categories, rostering the Cup drivers will be a must, but how you fit pieces around them will determine how much money you win.

Stand-alone XFINITY events will present a different challenge. With no Cup regulars in the field, knowing which drivers will be able to provide dominators points will be crucial. It will also be important to know which regulars will make the jump to fantasy relevance with the Cup regulars out of the way.

For this weekend’s opener at Daytona, you don’t really have to worry about either scenario. Much like plate races in the Cup Series, plate races in the XFINITY Series are usually crash-filled messes. As a result, the place differential category becomes by far the most important category to focus your DFS lineups on.

In last year’s opener, seven drivers who started outside the Top 15 finished in the Top 10, including four who started 25th or worse. It will be tempting to load up your lineup with Cup drivers, but that’s just not the smart strategy this weekend. Stack your lineup with drivers starting deeper in the field, and you won’t be disappointed.


Must-Own Drivers

Austin Dillon ($9,400) 

Dillon would have been worthy of consideration regardless of where he qualified, and now that he is starting last because of inspection issues, you have to get him in your lineups. Since 2015, he has finished sixth or better in six of his seven restrictor-plate starts in the XFINITY Series, picking up a win and four Top 5s in five starts at Daytona during that span.


Joey Logano ($10,200)

There is no such thing as a sure thing at the plate tracks, but Logano has been pretty darn close. He’s appeared in eight of the last 10 plate races in the XFINITY Series, compiling an 8.1 average finish and leading 15-plus laps five times. Logano has cracked the Top 15 in five of his starts at Daytona during that span, notching four Top 10s and leading 40-plus laps in two of his last three starts at the track. He starts fourth, so he has the potential to hurt your lineup if he wrecks, but he also has a good chance to go out and lead the most laps and win the race. If I’m taking any driver starting in the Top 10 today, it’s Logano.


Elliott Sadler ($9,600) 

Among the XFINITY Series regulars, Sadler has been the most consistent performer at the plate tracks. He has finished fourth or better in five of his last seven starts, picking up a win and three second-place finishes. He has a 10.0 average finish in the last 10 plate races overall, and no driver has scored more points in that stretch. Starting 12th isn’t ideal in terms of place differential upside, but Sadler should still be one of the safer plays.


Daniel Suarez ($8,900)

Suarez has been boom or bust at the plate tracks in the XFINITY Series, logging three Top 10s and three finishes outside the Top 30 in his last six starts. I like him this weekend because of his mid-pack starting spot, which gives him more place differential than most of the other Cup drivers with elite equipment that are in the field.


Ryan Reed ($8,600) 

If you are new to the XFINITY Series, Reed probably isn’t a household name, but trust me when I say that he can help you win some money today. He is the defending winner of Saturday’s race, and he has won the season opener at Daytona twice in the last three years. He has four Top 10s in eight career starts at Daytona, and his 11.2 average finish at the track is the best among series regulars. Reed is starting just outside the Top 15 today, giving him more differential upside than a lot of the other drivers who are considered real threats to win today.


Difference Makers 

Aric Almirola ($9,100)

If you are used to playing Cup Series contests, you are probably shocked to see Almirola priced this high, but his number at plate tracks in the XFINITY Series speak for themselves. He has finished 11th or better in six of his last eight starts, gaining an average of 6.3 spots per race. More impressively, Almirola has started outside the Top 20 and gone to victory lane in two of his last three starts at plate tracks. He only starts 13th today, but race-winning potential should have him on your radar.


Ross Chastain ($7,300) 

Chastain has quietly been one of the more consistent series regulars at the plate tracks. He has finished 16th or better in four of his last five starts, and over the last 10, he has a 16.3 average finish and an average place differential of +12.6. Staring 24th, Chastain could once again end up with a solid point total after place differential is factored in.


J.J. Yeley ($7,000)

He is starting way back in 39th, so Yeley has the place differential potential to post a big score and win you some cash today. He has also cracked the Top 25 in his last seven starts at restrictor-plate tracks, starting outside the Top 30 and finishing in the Top 15 at Talladega last spring and Daytona last July.


Kaz Grala ($6,700)

Grala will be making his XFINITY Series debut, but don’t let the lack of experience scare you off. Starting 29th, he has the upside you need in the place differential category. He also won at Daytona in the Truck Series in his first attempt. I’m not expecting a win today, but a Top 15 finish and a surprising point total aren’t out of the question.


Garrett Smithley ($6,500) 

Smithley has been a force in the place differential category at the plate tracks in the XFINITY Series, gaining an average of 15.8 spots over five starts and logging three Top 15s. He starts outside the Top 25 today, putting him great position to deliver another solid score.


Sleeper Special 

Timmy Hill ($5,800)

Remember when I said any driver is in play at the plate tracks? Hill is a perfect example. In two starts at plate tracks last year, he started 37th and finished 17th at Talladega in the spring and started 36th and finished 17th at Daytona in July. Hill starts 36th today and could be the steal of the race.