Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Coke Zero 400 Cheat Sheet

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Handicapping a race on one of the restrictor-plate superspeedways can be a difficult proposition. No matter how much time fantasy players spend looking at the numbers, a 'Big One' crash can wipe out all of that effort. Spread the wealth around in salary cap games this week and do not start anyone in Pick ‘Em games that might be more predictable elsewhere.

Most importantly, do not get overly attached to your Coke Zero Sugar 400 roster, because Daytona International Speedway can eliminate it in a puff of tire smoke.

1. Joey Logano
He has not been faultless in the past three seasons on restrictor-plate superspeedways with three results of 25th or worse, but Logano's other efforts on this track typed ended sixth or better.

2. Kurt Busch
Busch's second-place finish in the Geico 500 at Talladega was his 11th result of 12th or better in his last 15 plate races and it snapped a three-race skid of 25th or worse on this track type.

3. Aric Almirola
Almirola came within a half-lap of winning the Daytona 500 this spring. That was impressive, but so is his current four-race streak of top-15s on this track.

4. Denny Hamlin
In the last 18 races on restrictor-plate superspeedways, Hamlin has scored top-15s in two-thirds of his starts and that puts him at the very top of that chart.

5. Paul Menard
Menard could be one of this week's greatest differentiators if he can keep his current top-10 streak alive. He enters Daytona with three results of sixth or better on this track.

6. Brad Keselowski
For some reason, Keselowski is much stronger at Talladega than Daytona so fantasy players should only evaluate him this week.

7. Kyle Larson
In 2016, Larson scored three top-10s in four plate races. Last year, he had two 12ths and a 13th. This year, his best effort netted a 19th in the Daytona 500.

8. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer has been incredibly strong in the summer race at Daytona with a current streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes in the Coke Zero 400.

9. Austin Dillon
The 2017 season was not good to Dillon at Daytona, but he had five top-10s in six races before that and a victory this spring in the Great American Race.

10. Ryan Blaney
Blaney tends to be crash prone on plate tracks, but he has occasionally overcomes that damage to score top-10s. He came within one spot of winning last year's Daytona 500.

11. Chase Elliott
Speed has never been Elliott's problem on restrictor-plate superspeedways but his luck has been abysmal with four results outside the top 20 in five career starts.

12. Michael McDowell
It's one thing to score the occasional top-10 at Daytona, but McDowell has three of these in his last five attempts. His other two efforts on this track netted top-15s.

13. Ryan Newman
He doesn't always spend a lot of time with the leaders, but Newman has scored four results of 11th or better in his last six races at Daytona – including a fifth in this race last year.

14. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex finished second to Denny Hamlin in the 2016 Daytona 500, but since then he has not scored a top-10 on this track and has only one top-15.

15. Kyle Busch
Busch finished third and second in the two Daytona races in 2016. Since then, his best effort in three races was a 20th last summer.

16. Alex Bowman
Bowman is looking for his second career top-15 at Daytona in his sixth attempt. He came close this spring with a 17th in the 500 and has more seat time in the No. 88 now than he did then.

17. AJ Allmendinger
After struggling for a while on this restrictor-plate, superspeedway, Allmendinger reversed his fortune in 2017 with a third in the Daytona 500. He's scored two top-15s since.

18. Kevin Harvick
This is a good week to leave the Big 3 in the garage. Harvick has not has a top-20 at Daytona in his last four races.

19. Jimmie Johnson
Daytona is not a track one wants to visit needing a solid finish. Johnson's luck has been bad on every track and this week is not the time to risk starting him.

20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
This could be one of Stenhouse's best chances to win and get into the 2018 playoffs. He scored two plate wins last year to qualify for the championship chase.

21. Trevor Bayne
A 23rd-place finish in last year's Coke Zero 400 was the only time in the past four races that Bayne finished outside the top 15. He just needs a little luck to spur his confidence.

22. Bubba Wallace
In three starts on restrictor-plate, superspeedways, Wallace's worst finish was a 16th at Talladega this spring.

23. Daniel Suarez
After getting eliminated in back-to-back accidents on plate tracks, Suarez survived the Geico 500 and scored his first top-10 on this course type.

24. Jamie McMurray
McMurray is capable of winning at Daytona. He did that in the 2010 500, but his last nine attempts on this track ended well outside the top 10.

25. William Byron
He ran a lot better than a 29th-place finish shows, but Byron is proof that rookies tend to struggle on restrictor-plate, superspeedways.

26. Brendan Gaughan
Starting Gaughan can pay a lot of dividends like it did in the 2017 Coke Zero 400 with his seventh-place finish, but he's also been involved in six accidents in his last eight plate attempts.

27. Chris Buescher
There are a lot of dark horse stories that can be told at Daytona. Buescher enters the Coke Zero 400 with back-to-back top-10s on this track.

28. Landon Cassill
This will be Cassill's first attempt on a plate track this year. In 2017, he swept the top 20 in two starts at Daytona.

29. DJ Kennington
If he can stay out of trouble, Kennington should finish somewhere in the 20s this week because that is how he's performed in his last two plate attempts.

30. Erik Jones
In six previous starts on restrictor-plate superspeedways in the Cup series, Jones has been around at the checkers just one time.

31. Kasey Kahne
Kahne looked solid for much of the Daytona 500, but an accident sent him home 34th. He survived crash damage at Talladega later in the spring and finished 17th.

32. Corey LaJoie
In three previous starts at Daytona, LaJoie has been all over the board with a 24th in last year's 500, an 11th last summer, and a 40th this spring.

33. Timothy Peters
Peters climbed behind the wheel of this car at Talladega this April and managed to avoid all of the incidents. With heavy attrition, that can give a driver a solid top-25.

34. David Ragan
While he can occasionally be a good value on plate tracks - like his sixth in last year's Coke 600 attests - Ragan is also subject to getting involved in the occasional 'Big One' crash.

35. Ty Dillon
In four starts in the Daytona 500, Dillon has a best finish of 25th. He was much better in his only Coke Zero 400 attempt last year when he finished 16th.

36. Matt DiBenedetto
If one is looking for a long shot, dark horse, bear in mind that DiBenedetto swept the top 15 at Daytona in 2017.

37. Ross Chastain
In his only previous restrictor-plate, superspeedway start, Chastain managed to stay out of trouble and keep his car running until the end of the Geico 500 in 25th.

38. Joey Gase
Despite blowing an engine at Talladega this spring, Gase finished 27th in the Geico 500. If he can avoid the first 'Big One' this week, he could have a stellar race.

39. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Earnhardt would like to have an incident-free race this week, which would be the first time in six plate starts that he did not have crash damage or mechanical problems.

40. JJ Yeley
Yeley hasn't started a Cup race on a plate track since 2015. He finished outside the top 30 in three of four races that season.

41. Ray Black Jr.
Black has made three previous starts in the Cup series and in his last attempt at Homestead last fall, he was black flagged for being too slow.

Previous Cheat Sheets

Geico 500 (Talladega) 
Daytona 500 
Overton's 400 (Chicagoland) 
STP 500 (Martinsville) 
Auto Club 400 

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver

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