Sunday, or perhaps Monday, the 2024 NASCAR season gets underway with the Daytona 500! The Great American race has a ton of pomp and circumstance to go with all the chaos. Chaos. That’s a word we’ll hear a lot this weekend and already saw some in the BlueGreen Duels and the Truck Series race on Friday. The chaos also means this is one of the more wide-open races of the season too. That’s for both watching and DFS. There are strategies to avoiding the chaos and wrecks for DFS though. We’ll go over that below and give you the top drivers to play on both DraftKings and FanDuel for the Daytona 500.

Weather For The Daytona 500

It’s currently raining in Daytona as I write this on Saturday. It’s likely to still be raining come Sunday too. There a better than 90-percent chance of rain all weekend which isn’t great for a chance of racing. If they catch a break in the rain they might be able to start the race before it’s delayed for a while. However, it’s looking more likely for a Monday start for the 500.

NASCAR DFS Daytona 500 Strategy

The strategy for Daytona can be as simple as just stacking all of the drivers in the back of the pack. It can also be as complex as trying to pick all of the drivers with the best records at the track and cross-referencing them with starting spots to find the best scoring spots with the best drivers in them. That’s not really needed though. Sure, the drivers listed and written up below have had success at Daytona but some are just drivers with speed this weekend and last year.

When we look at the driver trends and the average DFS scoring charts below, we can see what a general strategy is. The drivers starting in the back half of the field tend to do better in terms of average finish as well as scoring but it’s not always clear cut. The general strategy for building good lineups at Daytona is to focus on these things:

  1. Drivers who have found the best average success at these types of races
  2. Drivers who have completed the most laps on average at the Daytona 500
  3. Putting one driver starting in the top-10, one starting 11-20, and the rest starting 25th on back

Following those guidelines should give you a pretty good competitive build for tournaments while stacking the back and hoping for avoiding the wrecks is a decent enough strategy for cash games and double ups.

BlueGreen Duel Results

The duels happened on Thursday night in the form of two 60-lap races with half the field in each. While the duels were used to set the starting grid for the 500, we’ll be using them to summarize how each manufacturer looked in race situations.


Boy did they look fast. While there were doubts after qualifying on Wednesday with the pure speed in the Toyota camp, they were dispelled on Thursday. The nine Toyotas looked quite racy and can handle well in the pack in either line. There are still concerns about the fewer number of them than Ford or Chevy but it’s better than six like in the past.


They locked out the front row in qualifying between Joey Logano and Michael McDowell but then came the duels. The handling looked a bit questionable the longer the races went which limited the overall speed. Fords have long been a favorite to win this style of race given the Roush Yates engines and the front ends that were better for pushing. This year though, it appears the initial shot at setup wasn’t as good as others and the advantage they typically have wasn’t there. There are still plenty of competitive drivers in the Ford camp, just not as dominating as previously.


The streak for Alex Bowman being on the front row for six straight years is over, but the overall strength of Chevy is probably better than it’s been in a while. Usually we tag Chevy as having good single car speed but not the best choice for racing in the pack given the swap of handling in favor of speed. This year they seemed to have better found the balance between the two in the duels. That makes a lot more of their camp intriguing and competitive than we’d usually be looking at.

Race Trends At Daytona 500

The chart below shows key stats for the last five Daytona 500s:

Positive Place Differential192224181920.4
Six+ Place Differential Spots101515141513.8
Double-Digit Place Differential81213121211.4
Double-Digit Fast Laps013121.4
20+ Laps Led343443.6
50+ Laps Led011100.6
100+ Laps Led000000
Lead Lap Finishers171511171414.8
Top-10 Finish %5367858%

We can see that position differential plays are numerous here, like we expect. We can also see that laps led don’t always add up that much here with less than one driver a race leading 50 or more. We can also see that under half the field finishes on the lead lap on average as well. The interesting part is that roughly half the top-10 starts inside the top-12 on average. So hence the strategy that getting a couple drivers starting inside the top-20 being a good idea.

Average DFS Scoring For Daytona 500

The following is the average DraftKings scoring by starting spot in the last five Daytona 500s. Only starting spot and not car nor driver are taken into account to show the DFS strategy.

The following is the average FanDuel scoring by starting spot in the last five Daytona 500s. Only starting spot and not car nor driver are taken into account to show the DFS strategy.

Top Tier Salary Drivers

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has won this race thrice already. He’ll start P8 when the green flag drops but he likely won’t stay there for long. Hamlin has a history of dropping back in the field to wait out the wrecks and then return to threaten or nab the win late in stage 3. That should be his modus operandi once more. If he nabs a top-five, there’s plenty of value here for Hamlin.

Kyle Busch

Busch has yet to win the great American race in his 18 tries. He does have multiple wins in this style of racing though and has been very close to nabbing his first win in the 500 a few times. The RCR duo seems to have cars to compete in the 500 based on the duel runs on Thursday. The speed in the car plus the fact that he started P36 and finished P19 in last year’s Daytona 500 makes him a very interesting play in the top tier of salaries.

Chase Elliott

While it hasn’t been the most fruitful track for Elliott, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been consistent. He’s nabbed his fair share of top-10s at Daytona as well as a few top-fives. We know that Hendrick cars tend to have a lot of speed at Daytona but haven’t always gotten to the promised land. Elliott looks to have that speed again and is certainly itching to get a win after a winless season in 2023.

Mid-Tier Salary Drivers

Bubba Wallace

It’s a plate race and it’s Bubba. What else do we need? He been continuously good at this style of racing since being a rookie in the Cup Series and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. He’ll start in the back half of the field and that gives us nice position differential upside in the mid-tier of the pricing.

Christopher Bell

Bell won the second duel on Thursday night. Like the rest of the Toyota contingent, Bell is fast and has a great handling car. With him winning the duel, he’ll be starting in the top-five of the grid which granted is a tad higher than we’d like, but we’re looking for drivers to finish top-10 and Bell has a jump on that and perhaps winning.

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex isn’t usually the driver we think of playing at Daytona but hey every bad run has to come to an end at some point right? Remember when he couldn’t win at short tracks and then became unstoppable? This week feels a bit like that at plate tracks. The speed in the 19-car is elite and had his pit crew not screwed up his pit stop in the duel, he may have won it.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stenhouse is starting P35 which is tasty in its own right. Now couple that with him winning this race last year from P31 and his history in these style of races and it’s even tastier. Stenhouse looked good in the duel until the big one hit in the second race which is why he’s starting in the back of the pack. But hey, that gives us the tasty position differential we’re looking for at a mid-tier price.

Value Tier Salary Drivers

David Ragan

Ragan is starting dead last on Sunday with nowhere else to go but forward. That will make him likely the most popular play on both sites thanks to free position differential points. Ragan has been a good plate racer in his career. When we add in that he’s in an RFK car, there’s even more upside here given how fast that team was last year in this package.

Corey Lajoie

Lajoie is always in play in these styles of race. He’s been in position to win at Daytona and Atlanta and specifically the Daytona 500 previously. Whether or not he can get up to a position to win again on Sunday is yet to be seen but all we need him to do is avoid the wrecks and be on the track late for a good points day.

Todd Gilliland

In four of the six plate-style races last year Gilliland posted top-15 finishes. Unfortunately, the only two he missed were at Daytona. That being said, he’s clearly skilled enough to finish well at these races and move up through the field successfully. That’s what we’ll be looking for from Gilliland on Sunday as he starts P31 with P15 or better upside.

Player Pool

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