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Fantasy Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Daytona 1

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 18, 2020, 5:37 pm ET

The Power Rankings always look interesting at the beginning of the season. There are a lot of gambles in play and if they don’t pay off, drivers can start the season deep in these standings.

Martin Truex Jr. tried to stay out of trouble for most of the Daytona 500, but there was no safe place to run. He was ultimately caught up in the Lap 186 accident that damaged half of the field; he starts the season 22nd in strength. Brad Keselowski was in that same incident, but with the second-most laps in the top 15 and second-best Average Running Position, his Power Numbers were enough to include him in the Week 1 top 10.

Sometimes the strategies play out. Occasionally drivers are simply lucky or star-crossed.


Denny Hamlin looked good start to finish and escaped the accidents. He earned the best Driver Rating last week. Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, and Joey Logano had the second- through fourth-best Driver Ratings based on NASCAR Statistical Services’ formula, but they all finished outside the top 15.

Daytona is not always a great gauge of who is going to run well for the remainder of the season, but here are the 10 drivers who got off to the best start.

1. Denny Hamlin
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 5.56

On plate tracks drivers have to be both lucky and good. Hamlin put his car in position to have a strong run in the Daytona 500, but his awareness at the end of the race was what really allowed him to win. He did not get rattled when Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman shuffled him out of the lead and his push on the No. 12 kept him in contention to capitalize on the last-lap contact between the leaders.

2. Ryan Blaney
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 6.90

Blaney said after the race that he was going to be content with second to Newman. He tried to bump-draft his fellow Ford driver before things went horribly wrong and sent the No. 6 into the wall. Blaney was in a position to win the Daytona 500 because he raced with the leaders all day. Along with his Team Penske mates, he was part of a sweep of the top three positions in regard to laps inside the top 15.

3. Chris Buescher
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 7.44

Roush Fenway Racing has historically been strong on aero-restricted superspeedways. On Monday we got the opportunity to see if it was driver or team that would carry the day. It would seem the answer was that both are equally important. Buescher’s third-place finish in the Great American Race gives the No. 17 a good kick start to the season before heading to a 1.5-mile track where he had so much success last year at JTG-Daugherty Racing.

4. Ryan Newman
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 7.75

Newman was in sight of the checkered flag and his second career Daytona 500 win before things went horribly wrong. After getting around Hamlin, the two Ryans looked like they might settle matters between themselves but it is incredibly difficult to bump draft on the tri oval. Despite his accident, Newman earned a top 10 in the Daytona 500 and was easily one of the strongest drivers in the field.

5. Chase Elliott
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 8.30

Before the race started, we predicted Elliott would make an ill-timed attempt to get to the lead that would ultimately send him to the back of the pack. And that is precisely what happened even before he was spun on the start of the final green-white-checkered attempt. The bad news is that he lacks the patience to be a good superspeedway pick; the good news is this organization is among the best on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.

6. Joey Logano
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 10.40

Without crash damage it is likely that Logano would have been one of Hamlin’s biggest threats last week. He is aggressive in the draft, which contributed to the Big One crash. He also became the victim of another driver’s forceful move in a karmic leveling. While he finished 26th in the race, he had the highest Average Running Position, the most laps in the top 15, and the fourth-best Driver Rating. Logano also earned points in both stages.

7. Austin Dillon
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 11.50

We were keeping an eye on Ty Dillon last week at Daytona, but it was his brother Austin that managed to escape major damage and race with the leaders the longest. The same thing happened in the Busch Clash and if he continues to show an ability to avoid trouble, he should be on fantasy players’ radar screens when the series hits Talladega.

8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 12.00

During the off-season we suggested that the driver swap between Stenhouse and Buescher would likely improve results for both teams. It is obviously too early to draw any conclusions, but it is notable that both of them had extremely solid Speedweeks and landed inside the Week 1 Power Rankings.

9. Brad Keselowski
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 13.13

Keselowski may well have the worst luck of all drivers on the aero-restricted superspeedways. He was eliminated in an incident triggered by teammate Logano and once again has to climb from a points’ deficit. His Daytona 500 accident is the seventh consecutive race on this track that was affected by crash damage. He finished 36th in the race and is 30th in the points, but he ran well before retiring.

10. Jimmie Johnson
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 14.08

Johnson had a strong Speedweeks and with a little luck could have been in contention for the win. The big question now is whether his misfortune at Daytona will impact the next several races. At the beginning of 2019 the No. 48 team had some of their best results on 1.5-mile tracks, so fantasy players should hold their judgment in reserve.

Notable Drivers outside the Top 10

14. Kevin Harvick
Weeks in the top 10: 0
FPR#: 14.75

Harvick drew the fifth pill in the Daytona lottery and that is good news for a driver with a history of crashing on the superspeedways. His Average Running Position and Driver Rating were 21st, however, and that contributed to his missing out on the inaugural top 10.  

17. Kyle Busch
Weeks in the top 10: 0
FPR#: 15.78

Busch attempted to lay back in the Daytona 500 so he could surge in the closing laps. Unfortunately just as he was ready to race for the lead, his power plant expired. With an Average Running Position of 17.3 and his 34th-place finish, he starts the season outside of the top 10. It shouldn’t take too long for him to mount a comeback. Don’t be surprises if he is high on next week’s list.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

1.

Denny Hamlin

5.56

2.

Ryan Blaney

6.90

3.

Chris Buescher

7.44

4.

Ryan Newman

7.75

5.

Chase Elliott

8.30

6.

Joey Logano

10.40

7.

Austin Dillon

11.50

8.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

12.00

9.

Brad Keselowski

13.13

10.

Jimmie Johnson

14.08

11.

David Ragan

14.12

12.

Kyle Larson

14.13

13.

Matt DiBenedetto

14.50

14.

Kevin Harvick

14.75

15.

Erik Jones

15.13

16.

Ty Dillon

15.63

17.

Kyle Busch

15.78

18.

Aric Almirola

16.00

19.

Alex Bowman

16.00

20.

Michael McDowell

16.29

21.

Clint Bowyer

17.00

22.

Martin Truex Jr.

17.67

23.

Kurt Busch

18.25

24.

Ross Chastain

18.25

25.

JH Nemechek

19.00

26.

Bubba Wallace

20.14

27.

Christopher Bell

20.29

28.

Tyler Reddick

20.86

29.

Ryan Preece

21.14

30.

William Byron

22.75

31.

Corey LaJoie

22.86

32.

Justin Haley

22.86

33.

Brendan Gaughan

23.43

34.

Cole Custer

23.71

35.

Joey Gase

25.43

36.

Brennan Poole

25.71

37.

Reed Sorenson

27.14

38.

Timmy Hill

28.43

39.

Quin Houff

29.14

40.

BJ McLeod

33.14

 

2020

Driver

Times in
top 10

Weeks at
No. 1

Denny Hamlin

1

1

Ryan Blaney

1

 

Chris Buescher

1

 

Ryan Newman

1

 

Chase Elliott

1

 

Joey Logano

1

 

Austin Dillon

1

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

1

 

Jimmie Johnson

1

 

Brad Keselowski

1

 

 

Dan Beaver
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.