Dale Money | February 14th, 2020
After a wreck-filled Busch Clash last weekend, in which Erik Jones would manage to push his torn up Camry to victory thanks to an assist from teammate Denny Hamlin. It is now time to kick off a brand spanking new season with the Super Bowl of Nascar events the Daytona 500. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start on pole, opposite Alex Bowman, as they were the two lone drivers to have qualified early.
So without further ado, let’s delve into the driver options for this upcoming Daytona. I’ve broken down, the selections between high salary drivers and value plays.
High Salary Drivers
Joey Logano (Draft Kings $10,500)
One of the more talented drivers when it comes to Restrictor Plate racing, it will be five years since his last Daytona 500 victory. In Logano’s last four races at the track, he has led the fifth most laps among current drivers with 54 and finished in the top 5 on two occasions. With the Ford alliance at Daytona being so strong, I expect Logano to be a potential threat up front most of the day and could be in line to rack up the extra bonus points through laps led.
Chase Elliott (Draft Kings $10,000)
Elliot has always had plenty of speed when it comes to running at Daytona and Super Speedways in general. It was in 2016 and 2017 when Elliott would clinch back to back poles, his average start is 7.2. The problem has always been completing the races cleanly, Elliott’s last four races at Daytona have resulted in crashes.
A risky selection at this price to be sure, but there is plenty of potential for a good day. If he can just manage to avoid any real mishaps. Elliott should have speed to spare in which to challenge upfront, a good portion of the day and quite possibly a shot at the checkered.
Ryan Blaney (Draft Kings $9,300)
Since Blaneys rookie season in 2016, he has seen his top 5 finishes rise steadily in all three years. The pressure on this young man must be ever consuming, now 26 years old, and being the lone Penske driver without a Monster Energy title. He will hit free agency along with teammate Brad Keselowski this upcoming offseason.
Outside of the unfortunate outcome in last seasons Daytona 500, in which Blaney would end up with a DNF after winning stage two. His previous two Daytona performances were in fact quite rock solid. It was in 2018 where he would dominate in laps led with 117 along with picking up a seventh-place finish. And the year prior to that, he would finish with a second-place result.
Blaney is a consistent enough driver, that he is worth taking a risk on for an event as uncertain as Daytona.
Matt DiBenedetto (Draft Kings $7,800)
After being unseated at Leavine Family Racing in favor of Christopher Bell, DiBenedetto was left looking for a new ride. It was just a month later, that it was announced DiBenedetto would take over the infamous No. 21 Woods Brothers Ford in 2020 as Paul Menard had made the decision to step away.
Already one of the most popular choices for Daytona, due to both the affordable price and consistent production in which DiBenedetto has displayed at the track. Not only did he lead the most laps in last year’s 500 with 49. But over the course of his last four races at this track, DiBenedetto has collected two top 10’s. If you also throw in Woods Brothers built-in alliance with the Penske camp. I could see this move, paying real dividends right out of the gate.
Erik Jones (Draft Kings $7,900)
I like this price for Jones, coming off a gritty Busch Clash win. Along with some of the other drivers mentioned in this piece, Jones will have plenty to prove in the season-opener. With Bell having now moved up to Monster Energy with Leavine Racing and Jones coming off a forgettable playoff campaign, the hot seat is warming up unquestionably.
Given that the Fords have had so much success, working together at Daytona. I expect Jones to have plenty of help from the Toyota camp if last weekend’s outcome is anything to go by. It was at last year’s 500 in fact, that Jones would finish third behind Gibbs teammates Kyle Busch and Hamlin.
Questions and comments?
Follow Us on Twitter @thescorecrow
Follow Us on Reddit at u/TheScorecrow
Follow Us on Facebook at The Scorecrow
Follow Us on Instagram at The Scorecrow
Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Dale Money on Twitter @packerd_00
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images