This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
O'Reilly Auto Parts 253
Location: Daytona, Fla.
Course: Daytona International Speedway Road Course
Format: 3.61-mile road course
Michael McDowell won the season opening Daytona 500 one week ago, his first win in 358 career starts. It was the perfect way to start a new season for the longshot who typically performs well on superspeedways. The win gives him a great starting position for this week's race, too. He will start on the front row alongside 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion and defending race winner Chase Elliott. Elliott's four consecutive road course victories firmly established him as a favorite every time the series visits one of the circuits, and there will be seven such times this year. The Daytona Road Course made its debut in on the schedule last season, and Elliott led 34 of the 65 laps to beat Denny Hamlin to the finish. Hamlin's teammate Kyle Busch is the latest winner on the Daytona Road Course, however. He won the Busch Clash a little more than a week ago after Elliott and Ryan Blaney took each other out in the final chicane to unofficially get the 2021 season started.
Key Stats at Daytona Road Course
- Number of races: 1
- Winners from pole: 0
- Winners from top-5 starters: 0
- Winners from top-10 starters: 1
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 0
- Fastest race: 89.39 mph
Previous 10 Road Course Winners
2020 Daytona Road Course - Chase Elliott
2020 Charlotte ROVAL - Chase Elliott
2019 Charlotte ROVAL - Chase Elliott
2019 Watkins Glen International - Chase Elliott
2019 Sonoma Raceway - Martin Truex Jr.
2018 Charlotte ROVAL - Ryan Blaney
2018 Watkins Glen International - Chase Elliott
2018 Sonoma Raceway - Martin Truex Jr.
2017 Watkins Glen International - Martin Truex Jr.
2017 Sonoma Raceway - Kevin Harvick
Daytona's road course first appeared on the schedule last season. Elliott extended his run of road course wins by leading 34 of the 65 laps and beat Hamlin to the win. The circuit has a few very good opportunities for passing, especially in braking zones leading into the infield's turn 5 and the back-stretch chicane. Drivers will have to be a bit more tidy in the back-stretch chicane this weekend, however. NASCAR and track officials have added curbs to the turns, which should keep drivers from dragging wheels through the grass and bringing dirt onto the circuit. That means braking into that section will be even heavier, which could produce even more passing in that section. As with most road course races, pit strategy and track position are key. Teams will time stops to get their drivers out of traffic in order to run faster laps in a race to the flag. Crews that can get their drivers off of pit lane first will also give their drivers the best chance to get (and stay) out front.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Elliott (DK $10,700, FD $14,000) looks to make it five road course wins in a row this week at Daytona. He is the winningest active driver in the series on road courses and currently sits seventh on the all-time road course win list. A win this weekend would move him into a four-way tie for third on that list. Hamlin (DK $9,800, FD $12,000) chased Elliott to the finish line in this race last season. He won at Watkins Glen in 2016 and has three top-five finishes from his last four road course starts. William Byron (DK $8,800, FD $9,600) has become a reliable fantasy option on these types of tracks. He finished in the top 10 in the last three road course races and has four road course top-10s from eight career starts. Last year's 11th-place finisher in this race, Erik Jones (DK $7,800, FD $8,000) will start 37th on Sunday. He drove to that 11th-place finish last year from the 20th spot and should be able to replicate that again this weekend. Chris Buescher (DK $7,200, FD $6,000) delivered an impressive fifth-place finish in this race last season. That was his career best on this type of track, but he can also be a reliable top-15 selection and gets even more enticing with a 30th-place starting spot. This season, Ty Dillon (DK $5,600, FD $2,500) is running a part-time schedule. He narrowly missed qualifying for the Daytona 500 but will be in the field this week. He has the 38th starting position and finished 20th in last year's race.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
AJ Allmendinger (DK $10,200, FD $12,000) has been one of the drivers to beat for multiple seasons when NASCAR visits road courses. He makes his return to the series this weekend with Kaulig Racing, with whom he won in the Xfinity Series two times last season, including at the Charlotte ROVAL. Kyle Busch (DK $10,000, FD $12,500) has multiple road course wins and picked up one already this season in the Busch Clash. He was running in third place when the leaders collided ahead of him and he swept through to take the win. Joey Logano (DK $9,400, FD $10,700) won at Watkins Glen in 2015. Including the Busch Clash, he also has a run of four consecutive top-10 road course finishes. He could make that five this weekend from the 11th starting position. Chase Briscoe (DK $8,400, FD $8,700) will make his first road course start in the Cup Series this week, but he won the Xfinity Series visit to the Indianapolis road course last season. He's no stranger to Victory Lane at these tracks and could be an under-the-radar choice for rosters this week. Michael McDowell (DK $6,800, FD $6,500) comes with some risk this week due to his front-row starting position. That said, he also punches above his weight on road courses. He finished 10th in this race last season and was 12th on the Charlotte ROVAL in 2019. James Davison (DK $5,200, FD $3,000) will make his first start of the season this week with Rick Ware Racing. He is a seasoned veteran with the ability to climb into the top 20 from his 39th-place starting spot.