NASCAR DFS Picks and Projections: The Clash at Daytona

The Clash at Daytona is this Saturday, and with qualifying all set (by a random draw), it’s time to give NASCAR DFS picks and two kinds of projections for Saturday’s slate. Hopefully I can help you all in this same slate where I finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the $100k GPP last year.

The first kind of projections are my machine learning projections. These should be the most accurate projections, although they won’t provide a very wide range among the drivers for this particular race because of the random nature of the race.

The second set of projections use similarity scores to identify historic comparable drivers to each driver, based off of his stats coming into the race (such as driver rating, laps led, and so forth at all tracks, and at similar tracks). This gives us a range of outcomes, where I’ve included the 25th and 75th percentile finishes along with the median outcome among each driver’s historic comps. Let’s dive into the projections, and then I’ll give my NASCAR DFS picks for The Clash at Daytona.

For NASCAR DFS slate strategy, check out my article from earlier in the week, as well as the NASCAR edition of the On the Daily DFS podcast where we analyze this slate.

NASCAR DFS Machine Learning Model Projections – The Clash

Here are the machine learning projections. They differ from the sim score projections in that this is the average finish. So finishes of 2, 3, 3, and 16 average to a finish of 6, but the median would be 3. So the sim score projections will tend to have a lower median than the average from the machine learning model. Both are useful. As a reminder, since Daniel Suarez has no historical data in the cup series, he is not listed.

Also note, because laps led and fastest laps are nearly impossible to predict, I am only projecting finishing position, which gives us DK points for finishing position and place differential, so that is what is listed below.

Brad Keselowski14.8835.25101003.49
Denny Hamlin25.7534.5186004.01
Jamie McMurray38.7929.4363004.67
Austin Dillon48.2931.4366004.76
Martin Truex Jr.56.5135.9880004.50
Jimmie Johnson65.8838.2598003.90
Kevin Harvick76.5537.8990004.21
Alex Bowman89.2133.5878004.31
Joey Logano96.1640.6994004.33
Kurt Busch109.4235.1775004.69
Kyle Larson117.8739.2570005.61
Danica Patrick1210.5035.0057006.14
Kyle Busch136.4944.0283005.30
Chase Elliott147.5342.9581005.30
Matt Kenseth157.0045.0072006.25
Daniel Suarez166000
Chris Buescher1710.6439.7255007.22

NASCAR DFS Similarity Score Projections – The Clash

I should note these projections are only for drivers who finish the race, so no comps are made in the below table on drivers that didn’t finish the race. But this gives you a good idea of where each driver should finish if he or she avoids problems.

Brad Keselowski1.92.54.1
Jimmie Johnson2.04.58.9
Joey Logano2.44.09.5
Kevin Harvick2.03.35.4
Denny Hamlin1.02.54.5
Kyle Busch3.14.09.3
Chase Elliott3.05.88.0
Martin Truex Jr.2.03.811.4
Alex Bowman5.19.313.0
Kurt Busch6.811.513.9
Matt Kenseth2.13.84.9
Kyle Larson4.57.811.9
Austin Dillon4.58.512.3
Jamie McMurray4.68.012.5
Danica Patrick5.19.312.4
Chris Buescher6.49.313.6

NASCAR DFS Picks: Cash Games – The Clash

Chris Buescher ($5500) — Buescher becomes an obvious play as the driver starting the furthest back and also the cheapest. That’s a recipe for an auto-cash game start at the restrictor plate tracks.

Matt Kenseth ($7200) — Kenseth projects for a very high median finish in the sim score projections. The 4.9 projection for the 75th percentile of his comps bodes well, although I’d venture to guess that’s a bit high.

Kyle Busch ($8300) — Kyle Busch is underpriced for how talented he is. He has some downside due to his aggressiveness, but starting in 13th mitigates most of that risk.

Chase Elliott ($8100) — Hendrick Motorsports always has fast restrictor plate cars, so look for Chase to make his way forward pretty quickly from his 14th place starting position.

NASCAR DFS Picks: GPPs – The Clash

Kurt Busch ($7500) — The elder Busch doesn’t project well by either projection system, but that should depress his ownership compared to drivers like Elliott, Kenseth, and his younger brother. Kurt could be the lowest owned driver starting¬†ninth or worse not named Danica Patrick. Busch has the aggressiveness to finish near the front, despite having no plate wins in his career.

Alex Bowman ($7800) — Bowman starts to get a bit uncomfortable for most people because he starts eighth, has little name recognition, and is priced higher than other drivers who are much more widely regarded such as Kenseth, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Larson. But he’s in Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s car, and has shown the ability to run up front, even at plate tracks in this #88 car.


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Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
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