Front Row Motorsports will enter a third car for David Gilliland for the Daytona 500. This organization has two charters, which will currently be used for Chris Buescher and Landon Cassill, so Gilliland will have to race the No. 35 into the show.
The new charter system will create some interesting scenarios for young drivers and part time teams, but not as much as the reduction of the field from 43 to 40 cars. Currently the list for the 500 is at 42, which would have meant everyone was guaranteed to start in the past. If Gilliland makes the show, he has a solid restrictor-plate, superspeedway record and could be a great fantasy dark horse.
Tony Stewart will receive the same exemption from NASCAR’s rule that drivers must attempt the full season in order to be Chase eligible as Kyle Busch did last year, according to the Sporting News. He will miss an indeterminate number of races after injuring his back in an off-road accident in California.
Stewart is going to need to pick up his pace if he wants to earn enough points to be inside the top 30 or even win a race, so the exemption may be moot. As of now, Stewart cannot be considered a strong fantasy value.
When NASCAR announced the 36 charters and reduction of race fields from 43 to 40 cars, it put Ryan Blaney is a situation he knows all-too-well: He must race his way into the Daytona 500 and qualify as one of four drivers to make the show on time each week during 2016.
NASCAR gave charters to team that have raced fulltime since 2013 and the Wood Bros. have run partial schedules since 2008. Michael Waltrip Racing’s charters will be purchased by Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch, while HScott Motorsports will lease a charter from Premium Motorsports this season for the No. 46 of Michael Annett, according the NBC’s Dustin Long. Blaney is capable of making every race, but fantasy owners will have to pay close attention each week to insure he qualifies.
Seven and 11 are considered lucky numbers in the dice game craps, but they have not elevated Brad Keselowski to the top 10 on either the top-five or top-10 lists. He sits just outside that mark in terms of number of front-of-pack results and has the 12th-best average finish of 19.36.
With two wins at Talladega SuperSpeedway. Keselowski has a much better average result there than Daytona International Speedway. His ‘Dega average is 14.8, while his Daytona average is 23.9.
With an average finish that is barely inside the top 20, players might be inclined to believe Greg Biffle is not a very strong plate racer. That ranks him 13th among active, fulltime drivers however, and his 14th top-10s places him 10th on that chart.
NASCAR is about current achievements and five of Biffle’s last six attempts on restrictor-plate, superspeedways have been 20th or worse. Watch him, but only start him if he looks comfortable in the draft during prelims.
Ryan Newman has earned 18 top-10s in his 56-race career on restrictor-plate, superspeedways, ranking him ninth on that chart between Clint Bowyer’s 21 and Greg Biffle’s 14.
Newman added two top-10s in the four plate races last year and came close to banking another in the fall ‘Dega duel. He finished 12th in the CampingWorld.com 500. His worst result came in the Daytona 500 with a crash-induced 38th.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited after leading a race high of 28 laps in the 75-lap non-points event at Daytona.
That was 27 more laps than he led the entire 2014 season, his first year with the single-car team based out of Denver, Colo. He went on to claim 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 point races, a victory at the June Pocono race and a Chase march to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished fourth in the final point standings, a vault of 20 positions from 2014. Truex will drive the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota in the Sprint Unlimited. At all the other events at Daytona Speedweeks he will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota.-FRR
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 965 at Daytona in Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited. Built new for 2016, it will see its first laps of competition in the non-points exhibition race.
In 12 Sprint Unlimited starts, Busch has one win, two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He has started from the pole twice in his 12 starts – his first Unlimited race in 2002 and again in 2008. He has led five races for a total of 24 laps.-TSC