Fantasy NASCAR Rankings: Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway

Fantasy NASCAR Expert Brian Polking reveals his top drivers to start for the 2018 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway!

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads back to Daytona International Speedway this weekend for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. It’s the second race of the year at the 2.5-mile superspeedway and the third restrictor-plate event of 2018.

Before I dive into this weekend’s rankings, I have to talk about that finish to last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland. First off, Kyle Larson is worth the price of admission. His ability to use the high line to manufacture speed is incredible, and this isn’t the first time that he’s made a race entertaining almost by himself.

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Second, I love Kyle Busch. Love him. He is the absolute perfect heel, to borrow a wrestling term, and he generates the type of heat that gets fans talking and gets fans engaged, even if it is to boo him mercilessly. I love the way he rubs it in the face of the booing crowd with a bow after a win. I loved the crying gesture and the way he called out the fans this past weekend, and I hope he continues to fully embrace the hate.

Yes, he’s whiny and obnoxious, but he’s also better than just about anyone behind the wheel right now, which just ticks off the fans that boo him that much more. NASCAR desperately needs a new fan favorite, but having that guy everyone loves to hate is also important. Busch is the best villain the sport has seen in decades.

Anyway, let’s get back to Daytona. Plate races are undoubtedly the most unpredictable on the schedule, and between the pack racing produced by the draft and the multi-car wrecks that are a byproduct, any driver that can survive to the checkered flag has a chance at coming away with a decent finish.

From a fantasy standpoint, a trip to Daytona can be a mixed bag. On one hand, you run the risk of your entire lineup being wiped out in a big wreck. On the flip side, it is a chance to get creative with your lineups and pick up some solid finishes out of some unexpected sources.

This is particularly important for Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game. With a limit on the number of times you can use each driver, saving starts from the big names while still posting solid scores is crucial to long-term success. Saturday’s race at Daytona offers you a chance to do just that, so make sure you take full advantage.

Fantasy NASCAR Rankings

1. Joey Logano, Shell-Pennzoil

Logano has emerged as the most dependable option at the plate tracks, and over the last 10 races, his seven Top 10s and five Top 5s are all tops in the series. Logano has three straight Top 5s at the plate tracks, including a win at Talladega in April. Use him as your Group A option in the Driver Group Game this weekend.

2. Brad Keselowski, Miller Lite/Discount Tires

He leads all active drivers in restrictor-plate wins, and his three plate wins in the last 10 races are also the most in the series. Keselowski has also led a series-best 348 laps in that span, making him one of the few drivers who can be counted on for dominator points in DFS formats. He’s also a great Group A option in the Driver Group Game.

3. Denny Hamlin, FedEx

Hamlin finished third in the Daytona 500 this year, and he has led laps in each of the last five restrictor-plate events. Over the last 10 plate races, he ranks in the Top 5 in points scored, average finish and laps led. Hamlin is one of the safest bets to contend for the win Saturday night.

4. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Fastenal/Fifth Third Bank

He is the defending winner of the July race at Daytona, and Stenhouse’s five Top 5s in the last eight restrictor-plate races are tied for the most of any driver. This is a perfect race to use him in the Driver Group Game and Fantasy Live.

5. Ryan Blaney, Menards/PPG

Blaney was already trending up at the plate tracks, and joining Team Penske seems to be speeding up the process. He finished seventh and led a race-high 118 laps in this year’s Daytona 500, and Blaney should have a car capable of winning again this weekend.


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